Crowded podium as boxing hall of fame inducts three classes
The International Boxing Hall of Fame may have to build a new wing to accommodate all the inductees after the ceremonies this weekend.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. single-handedly makes Sunday’s event one of the most anticipated in years. Add fighters like Roy Jones Jr., Andre Ward and Bernard Hopkins — along with trailblazing women — and the boxing gym in tiny Canastota, New York, will quickly fill up.
The last two ceremonies have been canceled due to the pandemic. So there’s a three-year-old class of 27 fighters — and 36 winners overall — that should please even the most casual boxing fan.
This includes a new female category led by Laila Ali and Christy Martin, who rose to fame when she appeared on some of Mike Tyson’s fight cards in the 1990s.
Organizers say all fighters should be there except one. Former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is in Ukraine alongside his brother, Vitali, helping rule the capital Kyiv during the ongoing war against invading Russia. Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv and also a former heavyweight champion, was inducted in 2018.
There are so many fighters that the event will be held at a nearby casino rather than Canastota. Instead of battling it out, inductees will find themselves battling to buy time for their acceptance speeches in the biggest induction ever for the small venue that honors boxing’s greatest.
Here’s a look at some of the inductees:
FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. – One of the greatest of all time, and certainly one of the best defensive fighters of all time. His 50-0 record suggests perfection, but Mayweather will probably be best known for how he capitalized on his career better than any fighter before him. He invented the character of Money May, but the money was real, including the estimated $200 million he earned for fighting Manny Pacquiao in the richest fight ever. Mayweather also banked similar cash to fight UFC’s Conor McGregor, and his record as pay-per-view king could last a long time. Is he the greatest fighter of all time as he claims? No, but that doesn’t stop him from being in the conversation.
BERNARD HOPKINS — The Executioner was certainly one of the greatest middleweights of all time, with a record 20 straight defenses of the middleweight title he won in 1995. Hopkins would later drop to 175 pounds and set a record as the oldest champion when he defeated Jean Pascal at the age of 46 to win the light heavyweight title. Two years later, he won the title again at the age of 48. Hopkins made his biggest payday when he stopped Oscar De La Hoya with a punch in their 2004 showdown, then won again when he joined De La Hoya as a shareholder of Golden. Boy specials. Not only a great fighter, but a great talker, especially when it comes to his career.
ROY JONES JR. – At his peak, he was a masterful blend of speed and power, so devious that opponents had a hard time hitting him. Jones was robbed of a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics, but won titles in four different weight classes. One of those titles came at heavyweight when he beat John Ruiz in 2003, but the drastic move up to light heavyweight took a toll on Jones, who would lose three of his next four fights at 175lbs. . His legacy was further diluted because he fought another 15 years after that with lackluster results.
WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO — One of two big heavyweight brothers who grew up in the Soviet boxing system, Klitschko’s career nearly ended in 2004 when he was stopped by Lamon Brewster. He would come back from that loss to dominate the heavyweight division for nearly a decade, fighting mostly in Germany, where he had a large fanbase. More casual fans didn’t like his cautious style, but Klitschko showed he could put up a fight too when he dropped Anthony Joshua in front of 90,000 people in London before being arrested in 2017 in what would be his last fight. Klitschko has been in Ukraine with his brother Vitali since Russia invaded their country.
CHRISTY MARTIN — His story was as compelling as his fights, and Martin had a big stage on the undercard of some of Tyson’s pay-per-view fights. She was a brave fighter who moved forward steadily and her bloody match with Deirdre Gogarty on a Tyson undercard in 1996 made many boxing fans realize that women’s fights were real. Martin would later be shot and stabbed by her husband and trainer, who is currently serving a prison sentence. Laila Ali was also inducted into the women’s side, which carried the weight of her famous father’s name as she campaigned for a 24-0 record at a time when women’s boxing was not taken seriously.
OTHERS – Choose from a group of deserving candidates, including Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Andre Ward, Shane Mosley and James Toney. All are top fighters who could headline any other ceremony that didn’t include some of the all-time greats.
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