Hall of Fame Inductions This Weekend
The International Boxing Hall of Fame has perhaps its most explosive class of entrants since its inaugural inductions in 1990. Two of the biggest draws in modern times, Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez, will be inducted, as well as Sylvester Stallone.
Stallone will be inducted into the “observer” category, a wing generally reserved for press and historians. Also joining Stallone in that category will be longtime U.K. announcer Harry Carpenter. In the non-participant category, trainer Nacho Beristain, referee Joe Cortez, and the founder of the National Sporting Club, A.F. Bettinson will be inducted.
In the Pioneer group, 19th century bare-knuckler John Gully will also be inducted.
A trip of overlooked, but very deserving old-timers will also be inducted. Among them is former light heavyweight champion Jack Root, top-notch 1920’s welterweight/midlweight contender Dave Shade, and overlooked bantamweight great Memphis Pal Moore.
The modern inductees Kostys Tszyu, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Mike Tyson make for a powerful trio. Certainly, their inductions all make us feel a bit older.
Tszyu was a decorated amateur who didn’t waste any time getting his hands dirty in the pro ranks. In only his 4th fight, he defeated 49-fight ex-champ Juan LaPorte. Two fights later, he crushed Sammy Fuentes. In his 10th contest, he bested ex-champ Livingstone Bramble and defeated ultra-tough Hector Lopez in his next fight. Wins over 40-1-2 Angel Hernandez and 26-1-2 Pedro Sanchez set him up for a shot at IBF champ Jake Rodriguez.
Tszyu disposed of Rodriguez in 6 rounds, made 5 defenses before running into a fired-up Vince Phillips, who stopped Tszyu in the 10th. Kostya regrouped and retooled. Knockouts of Calvin Grove, Rafael Ruelas, Diobelys Hurtado, and Miguel Angel Gonzalez showed he was back on top.
He battered an over-the-hill Julio cesar Chavez for an 8th round KO and stopped fellow-titleholder Sharmba Mitchell, setting up his biggest win–a concussive knockout over unbeaten titlist Zab Judah. 3 more good defenses followed, before he ran into Ricky hatton, bringing the end of a great career as one of the best 140-pounders ever.
Mike Tyson’s career has been well-chronicled, as even casual fans know his story. At the same time, this is a surreal moment for some–seeing Tyson in the elder-statesman role. Thankfully, his induction coincides with a time where he appears to be getting his act together. His career is a strange one. It looked like it was shaping into one of the best ever. As it stands, it is still more than good enough to warrant induction.
And looking back, it appears his legacy will pick up steam. The air of disappointment is still floating around, but when the dust clears, Iron Mike will stand favorably among all but the very best in heavyweight history. And there are still those who feel Tyson from 85-89 might have been the best ever.
The resume of Chavez is more crystal-clear. In many’s estimation, he was the greatest fighter to emerge from Mexico, a country with a glorious boxing heritage. The man was incredible. There were no secrets what Chavez was going to do, but no one could stop him. His list of wins reads like a who’s-who of fighters from 130-140 in the 80’s and 90’s.
For some younger fans, the image of Chavez might be of a whiny old warrior who doesn’t want to give anyone credit. He was a sore loser. But it took 90 fights before anyone could beat him. And even if you think Meldrick Taylor got the shaft in their 1990 bout, there is no doubting the damage Chavez was able to inflict on Taylor that night. Meldrick would never be the same. The same can be said about a lot of good fighters who had the misfortune of running into a prime Chavez.
For those fortunate enough to be in Canastota this weekend, enjoy yourselves and feel fortunate about being able to witness such a powerful class of inductees.