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New Nominees Are Worthy of Boxing Hall of Fame Calls

By Lyle Fitzsimmons

All the signs of October are here.

My football team is teetering on the brink of irrelevance after five games played. My baseball team has made this year’s renewal of what’s become an annual postseason flameout. My hockey team has managed, over just 120 minutes on ice, to snuff out any lingering optimism from the preseason.

And, in the mail the other day, a big white envelope arrived from Canastota, N.Y.

In it were the stapled-together bios of this year’s crop of nominees for the International Boxing Hall of Fame, along with the form that will need to be sent indicating my picks for the Class of 2014.

It’s a task that’s among the very best parts of sitting at a keyboard and writing about boxing for a living. But, for those who’ve been reading this space since I got started several years ago, also know it tends to be one of the most conversation-inducing duties as well.

Last year, I was bombarded from all directions for pointing out that Arturo Gatti’s candidacy was far more a product of popularity than greatness, and for writing that the former action hero’s acumen was more indicative of a 50-lap feature at the local fairgrounds than of the Indianapolis 500.

People didn’t like it, but I still believe it’s true.

A couple years back, I got taken to task from more than a few readers for claiming – gasp! – that the halls of Canastota are filled with a lot of fighters for whom sentiment has clearly overtaken accomplishment when it comes to their lifetime bodies of work.

Case in point, ex-heavyweight champ Joe Frazier. He won a splintered version of the championship when its previous possessor, Muhammad Ali, was banned from the ring. And, while he indeed did beat Ali in the first of three matches, he lost the final two decisively – and was bounced off the canvas repeatedly upon meeting the other Hall of Famer of his era, George Foreman.

Possessor of a spectacular left hook? Absolutely. A terrific ambassador for the fighting city of Philadelphia, whose suburbs I called home for 10 years? Without question. But a fighter whose resume – with other title fight wins over the likes of Stander, Daniels, Foster, Ellis, Quarry, Zyglewicz, Bonavena, Ramos and Mathis – was as substantial as his legend? Not a chance.

He’s not the worst fighter in the hall by any stretch, but he was certainly the one – until the arrival of Gatti last year – whose career had been overinflated to the most seam-bursting proportions.

Again, it’s a stance for which I still get flak, but I have no problem taking it.  

But all that said, the contents of this year’s envelope appear to be significantly less debate-prompting than what’s been included in past years.

Eligible for the 2014 class are newcomers Joe Calzaghe, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad, a trio that accounted for 18 title belts and a combined 127-9 win-loss record across parts of 18 years before each appearing for the final times – Calzaghe and Trinidad against Roy Jones Jr., De La Hoya against Manny Pacquiao – in 2008.

One twist this year: Rather than including the bios for each fighter who’s on the nomination form – some of whom have been there for several years and whose fighting careers were long before I was born – I’ve only included those who were active since I’ve been around. If you’re a fighter whose wheelhouse of activity came significantly before 1969, I’ll leave it to others, each older voters or better researchers, to determine your fate.

Read on for capsule looks at the more “modern” 2014 nominees, along with this column’s vote on whether they ought to be part of the upstate New York celebration in June.

NEW NOMINEES

Joe Calzaghe
Career: 1993-2008
World Championships: WBO Super Middleweight; IBF Super Middleweight; WBA and WBC Super Middleweight
46-0 (32 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 10-0
VOTE: YES

Oscar de la Hoya
Career: 1992-2008
World championships: WBO Super Featherweight; WBO Lightweight; IBF Lightweight; WBC Super Lightweight; WBC Welterweight; WBC Super Welterweight; WBA Super Welterweight; WBO Middleweight; WBC Super Welterweight
Record: 39-6 (30 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 24-5
VOTE: YES

Felix Trinidad
Career: 1990-2008
World championships: IBF Welterweight; WBC Welterweight; WBA Super Welterweight; IBF Super Welterweight; WBA Middleweight (2001)
Record: 42-3 (35 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 20-1
VOTE: YES

HOLDOVER NOMINEES

Donald Curry
Career: 1980-1997
World Championships: WBA welterweight; WBC welterweight; IBF welterweight; WBC super welterweight
Record: 34-6 (25 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 6-5
VOTE: NO

Betulio Gonzalez
Career: 1968-1988
World Championships: WBC Flyweight; WBA Flyweight
Record: 77-12-4 (52 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 9-9-2
VOTE: NO

Yoko Gushiken
Career: 1974-1981
World Championships: WBA junior flyweight
Record: 23-1 (15 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 6-1
VOTE: NO

Naseem Hamed
Career: 1992-2002
World Championships: WBO Featherweight; IBF Featherweight; WBC Featherweight
Record: 36-1 (31 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 10-1
VOTE: NO

Carlos Hernandez
Career: 1959-1971
World Championships: World Junior Welterweight
Record: 60-12-4 (41 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 4-6
VOTE: NO

Rafael Herrera
Career: 1963-86
World Championships: World Bantamweight; WBC Bantamweight
Record: 48-9-4 (19 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 7-3
VOTE: NO

Santos Laciar
Career: 1976-90
World Championships: WBA Flyweight; WBC Super Flyweight
Record: 79-10-11 (30 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 8-5-1
VOTE: NO

Jose Legra
Career: 1960-1973
World Championships: WBC Featherweight title
Record: 133-11-4 (50 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 2-5
VOTE: NO

Miguel Lora
Career: 1979-1993
World Championships: WBC Bantamweight
Record: 37-3 (17 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 8-3
VOTE: NO

Ernesto Marcel
Career: 1966-1974
World Championships: WBA Featherweight
Record: 40-4-2 (23 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 6-1-1
VOTE: NO

Henry Maske
Career: 1990-2007
World Championships: IBF Light Heavyweight

Record: 31-1 (11 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 5-1
VOTE: NO

Dariusz Michalczewski
Career: 1991-2005
World Championships: WBO light heavyweight; WBO Cruiserweight; WBA/IBF Light Heavyweight
Record: 48-2 (38 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 6-2
VOTE: NO

Sven Ottke
Career: 1997-2004
World Championships: IBF Super Middleweight; WBA Super Middleweight
Record: 34-0 (6 KO)
Record Against champions and Hall of Famers: 8-0
VOTE: NO

Samuel Serrano
Career: 1969-1997
World Championships: WBA Junior Lightweight
Record: 50-5-1 (17 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 2-3-1
VOTE: NO

Wilfredo Vazquez
Career: 1981-2002
World Championships: WBA Bantamweight; WBA Super Bantamweight; WBA Featherweight
Record: 56-9-2 (41 KO)
Record against champions and Hall of Famers: 8-7-1
VOTE: NO

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

SATURDAY
WBO welterweight title – Las Vegas, Nev.
Timothy Bradley (champion) vs.  Juan Manuel Marquez (unranked) 
Bradley (30-0, 12 KO): Second title defense; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0)
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO): Fifteenth title fight (9-4-1); Held titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140
Fitzbitz says: “The last two men to defeat Manny Pacquiao seem on different levels. Bradley simply isn’t as skilled as his 40-year-old foe. If Marquez doesn’t turn old, he wins.” Marquez by decision

Vacant WBO featherweight title – Las Vegas, Nev.
Orlando Cruz (No. 1 contender) vs. Orlando Salido (No. 3 contender)
Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KO): First title fight; Lost only career fight in Las Vegas (TKO 5)
Salido (39-12-2, 27 KO): Tenth title fight (4-4, 1 NC); Lost WBO title in last fight (January 2013)
Fitzbitz says: “Cruz is a headline-worthy story and worthy of praise, but he doesn’t really belong on the same plane as an experience titleholder and challenger like Salido.” Salido by decision

Last week's picks: 1-0
2013 picks record: 55-31 (64.0 percent)
Overall picks record: 518-183 (73.9 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

Tags: boxing image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by violaandme on 10-09-2013

the best chance for holdovers is definitely 2015-16 in 2017 won't happen with 2 locks and a maybe coming on as first timers Evander Holyfield, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Antonio Margarito all in 2017 I think Naz is a lock…

Comment by violaandme on 10-09-2013

[QUOTE=violaandme;13821816]I don't see much hope if any for holdovers this year but 2015-16 will see at least 4 or 5 get in because Hector Camacho is the only lock first ballot coming up :boxing:[/QUOTE] [QUOTE=crold1;13822269]Only 3 get in per year…

Comment by budfr on 10-09-2013

This is biased and a bit racist. People, specially Latinos, who have so many fights like Laciar, Betulio Gonzalez, also Hamed, should be in the HOF. I don´t care if you fought many " bums " a fight is a…

Comment by Drunk Punch on 10-08-2013

Get Naz in the hall of fame.

Comment by soul_survivor on 10-08-2013

[QUOTE=fitzbitz;13821240]@soul_survivor ... There are more guys on the ballot... but as I mentioned in the piece, I was only going to judge and vote on the guys I'm familiar with. Guys of my era. Doesn't make so much sense to…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (25)
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