I want to take this opportunity to do something of a mea culpa here regarding Dan Birmingham. It seems as though in recounting a story I had written on May 14, prior to the Winky Wright-Felix Trinidad fight, I let the fact that Birmingham had behaved like a worm on a personal level affect my opinion of the job he's done as trainer of Wright.
The fact is, when you consider where Winky was then (1991) - undisciplined, somewhat lazy and unfocused - and where he is now, which is to say he is a handful for any middleweight in the world, including Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor, Birmingham has indeed taken him a long way. And when you saw Wright make Trinidad look ridiculous, with impenetrable defense and just enough pinpoint punching, making Trinidad, for all intents and purposes, give up the competitive effort in the second or third round, you have to come to the conclusion that it was the product of a carefully-crafted style and a masterful game plan. And you have to direct a lot of that credit back to Birmingham.
I was scoffing at Birmingham's "Trainer of the Year" award and mentioning Buddy McGirt within the same sentence in a favorable context. But Birmingham deserves his honor, and right now one could question McGirt's judgment just a little if he gave Arturo Gatti the impression that he could beat Floyd Mayweather. Gatti was lucky that decision didn't result in more physical damage. And with any "Trainer of the Year" candidate that works for a promoter, I have to take that factor into consideration (my rationale for that in this January 2003 story).
In the days after the Wright-Trinidad fight, I received a few pieces of hate mail (there were a few nasty comments about McGirt in there too) from someone who let it slip that he was from the Wright camp. Whether it was Dan Birmingham hiding behind an email alias is irrelevant to this discussion. On a professional level, I need to give him and his fighter their due.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV