Teofimo Lopez continues to enjoy his victory lap.

The undefeated World lightweight king was a near consensus choice for 2020 Male Fighter of the Year. The latest such honor comes from the Boxing Writers Association of America, who have named Lopez as the recipient of the Sugar Ray Robinson Award in recognition of the year’s best boxer.

Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) was an overwhelming selection among voting members. Interestingly, it come in a year where he only managed just one fight but certainly made it count. Brooklyn’s Lopez delivered a tour-de-force performance in soundly outpointing pound-for-pound entrant Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) in their multi-belt lightweight championship clash on Oct. 17th at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

The win came ten months after Lopez—who represented Honduras in the 2016 Rio Olympics—claimed his first major title, scoring a 2nd round knockout of Richard Commey last December. His eye-catching performance versus Lomachenko was enough to edge out a competitive Fighter of the Year field.

“I’m very appreciative of this,” Lopez said. “It’s been a long journey and this is just the beginning. What I can say is this is a true big win for us. It’s surreal. Sometimes I still think this is a dream for us, but we turned that dream into reality. Every fighter that I look down on the list of past BWAA Fighter of the Year award winners are in the Hall of Fame, or going into the Hall of Fame.

 “Now I’m a part of that group and that history. It’s something no one can take away from me. There is so much more that we can do.”

Among those also on the ballot: lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs); 130-pound titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (24-0, 23KOs); top light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. (26-3, 21KOs); unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs) and 2019 award recipient Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs).

At just 23 years of age, Lopez becomes the youngest BWAA Fighter of the Year award recipient in 25 years, when a 22-year old Oscar de la Hoya claimed top honors in 1995. He is also the first American boxer to claim the award since Floyd Mayweather Jr. did so in 2015.

With the honor came more good fortune for Lopez’s team, including manager David McWater who had a hand in the winner all but one of the five BWAA categories in 2020.

McWater received the Cus D’Amato Award as the recognized 2020 Manager of the Year. McWater boasts one of the most extensive rosters in the sport, including Lopez and former 140-pound titlist Ivan Baranchyk, the latter who represents one half of the most spectacular fight of the past year.

Baranchyk came up on the wrong end of the furiously paced war with Jose Zepeda, which saw both fighters hit the deck four times each inside of five rounds. Zepeda was the last man standing in their Oct. 3 slugfest, which was bestowed the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Award as the BWAA 2020 Fight of the Year.

“This is very exciting, because I know now that this will be part of boxing history,” Zepeda said. “I’m glad that I was able to be in a fight like that, and I’m happy for me and Ivan, because both of us gave up everything in there. It’s why we’re part of boxing, because we gave it our all.

“It’s double the pleasure, because it’s Fight of the Year, and I won. I think a lot of good things can happen for me this year, because of that fight. I know fans want to see that fight again. I think our second fight could be even better than our first fight.”

It was the type of fight where even a provided emphatic winner didn’t truly see any losers.

“This is great,” Baranchyk said. “I saw the fight one time with my trainer, that was it. I went back over the fight to fix my mistakes to be ready for the rematch. I would like to fight Jose again.”

Zepeda-Baranchyk topped a six-fight field, all which ended in knockout. The remaining nominees were:

-        Alexander Povetkin recovering from two 4th round knockdowns to flatten Dillian Whyte with a single uppercut early in the 5th round of their interim heavyweight title fight, which aired live on Sky Sports Box Office and DAZN on Aug. 22nd from Matchroom Boxing headquarters in Brentwood, England;

-        Juan Estrada’s 11th round knockout of Carlos Cuadras in their Oct. 23rd World junior bantamweight championship rematch in Mexico City, which saw both fighters hit the canvas in their DAZN headliner;

-        Gervonta Davis’ highlight reel, one-punch 6th round knockout of four-division titlist Leo Santa Cruz to regain a 130-pound title in their Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner on Oct. 31st in San Antonio, Texas;

-        Masayoshi Nakatani twice climbing off the canvas to knock out lightweight contender Felix Verdejo in the 9th round of their terrific ESPN-televised slugfest which aired live Dec. 12th from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas

-        Carlos Gongora scoring one of the year’s biggest upsets, rallying from a scorecard deficit to stop unbeaten Ali Akhmedov in the 12th and final round of their Dec. 18th super middleweight fight in Hollywood, Florida.

As for McWater, the six-year boxing manager followed Lopez’s lead in edging out the 2019 winner for top honors in his category. Last year’s recipient, Keith Connolly was joined in the runner-up section by Peter Kahn (second consecutive nomination), Rick Mirigian and Eddy Reynoso.

“Getting this award is pretty exciting and very vindicating,” McWater said. “It involved a lot of hard work, and it’s especially sweet because I felt last year Keith Connolly (the 2019 BWAA Manager of the Year) deserved it so much, which I felt gave the award more credibility than in the past.

 “It’s a tribute to our whole company at Split-T. Everyone at Split-T has so much to be grateful about for Teofimo and his father. Their awards couldn’t be more deserving.”

Completing the award tour for the Lopez team is the family patriarch. Teofimo Lopez Sr. was named as the Eddie Futch Award winner in recognizing the 2020 Trainer of the Year.

Like his son and McWater, Lopez Sr. also trumped the 2019 winner to claim the category. Reynoso earned top honors in 2019 but finds himself as part of a runner-up field in 2020 which includes Derrick James (whose top clients Spence and Jermell Charlo won big in 2020 and currently serve as unified titlists at welterweight and junior middleweight, respectively), 2012 award winner Robert Garcia and Javan SugarHill Steward.

“I never expected this,” Lopez Sr. said. “This is a tribute to all of the hard work that we put in. I was thinking about my son. I wasn’t thinking about any awards, so to get this from the BWAA makes me a part of history and I’ll be in the boxing books forever. It’s a great honor and I don’t plan on letting anyone down.”

“I never expected this,” Lopez Sr. said. “This is a tribute to all of the hard work that we put in. I was thinking about my son. I wasn’t thinking about any awards, so to get this from the BWAA makes me a part of history and I’ll be in the boxing books forever. It’s a great honor and I don’t plan on letting anyone down.”

The family of fallen heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov will receive the John McClain & Bill Crawford Award for courage and overcoming adversity.

Abdusalamov continues to show signs of improvement though still disabled from a brain injury sustained in a 10-round decision defeat to Mike Perez in Nov. 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Russian heavyweight was cleared by the New York State Athletic Commission after the fight but took a taxi to nearby Roosevelt Hospital for further observation after the fight, at which point a blood clot was discovered on his brain. Abdusalamov was placed into a medically induced coma, overcoming a stroke to ultimately survive the emergency surgery.

The BWAA award comes three years after the Abdusalamov family was awarded a $22 million settlement from the state.

Other nominees for the category include the still recovering fallen welterweight contender Prichard Colon and a trio of trainers in James—joining Reynoso as a two-category nominee—Mark Breland and Jose Santa Cruz.

The aforementioned winners will be honored along with the 2019 BWAA award recipients at a joint banquet to be held at a date to be announced in the future. The planned 2019 BWAA awards dinner was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the decision made to combine with the 2020 honorees.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox