By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Trust me, I’ve had worse debut performances.
A few come to mind right away. But that’s… ahem, another story.
In this context a year ago, all three of the modern-era fighters eventually deemed worthy of induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame – Lennox Lewis, Orlando Canizales and Brian Mitchell – had check marks next to their names as “Yes” votes on my inaugural Boxing Writers Association of America ballot.
Not bad for a first-time voter, if you ask me.
Still, the task gets no easier this time around.
No fewer than 45 boxers active for at least one fight since 1943 are again on the ballot for 2010 recognition, with voting done through Oct. 31 by BWAA members and select non-members chosen by the Hall’s board of directors.
Each “modern” voter chooses from one to 10 boxers, with the top three vote-getters punching a ticket. The IBHOF board chooses hall-worthy observers, non-participants, pioneers and old-timers.
Other inductees last year included promoter/matchmaker/publicist Bob Goodman, promoter Akihiko Honda, journalist Hugh McIlvanney and broadcaster Larry Merchant.
Here’s one man’s look at their potential new colleagues in 2010:
Georgie Abrams – Floored champion Tony Zale in failed 1941 middleweight title bid; lost decisions to Ray Robinson, Marcel Cerdan and Fred Apostoli. Vote: NO.
Horacio Accavallo – Seventy-five wins in 83 career fights; held WBA flyweight title in 1966-67. Vote: NO.
Joey Archer – Defeated Ray Robinson in Robinson’s final fight; two failed bids against middleweight champion Emile Griffith in 1966-67. Vote: NO.
Jose Becerra – Seventy-two wins in 79 career fights; held world bantamweight title in 1959-60. Vote: NO.
Johnny Bratton – Held NBA welterweight title in 1951; went 0-2-1 in three bouts with Kid Gavilan. Vote: NO.
Jimmy Carruthers – Held world bantamweight title from 1952-54; went 2-4 over six-fight comeback in 1961-62. Vote: NO.
Jung-Koo Chang – WBA light flyweight champion from 1983-89; 15 successful title defenses. Vote: YES.
Donald Curry – Held WBA, IBF and WBC welterweight titles between 1983-86; subsequently won WBC title at 154 pounds. Vote: NO.
Hiroyuki Ebihara – Held WBA/WBC flyweight titles in 1963-64; later held WBA championship in 1969. Vote: NO.
Tommy Farr – Won 81 of 126 career bouts; dropped 15-round decision to heavyweight champion Joe Louis in 1937. Vote: NO.
Tiger Jack Fox – Won 153 of 191 career bouts; fought professionally from 1928-50. Vote: NO.
Ceferino Garcia – Won 102 of 142 career bouts; held NYSAC world middleweight title in 1939-40. Vote: NO.
Betulio Gonzalez – Won 75 of 91 career bouts; three flyweight title reigns between 1972-79. Vote: NO.
Yoko Gushiken – Won WBA junior flyweight title in ninth career bout; made 13 successful title defenses. Vote: YES.
Naseem Hamed – Held WBO, IBF and WBC flyweight titles between 1995-2001; went 17-1 with 14 knockouts in 18 career championship bouts. Vote: YES.
Carlos Hernandez – Held WBA/WBC junior welterweight titles in 1965-66; lost subsequent WBA title bout in 1969. Vote: NO.
Rafael Herrera – Won WBA/WBC bantamweight titles from Ruben Olivares in 1972; subsequently held WBC championship in 1973-74. Vote: NO.
Al Hostak – Two reigns as NBA world middleweight champion; stopped twice in title bouts by Tony Zale. Vote: NO.
Harry Jeffra – Won 94 of 122 career bouts; held world titles at bantamweight and featherweight. Vote: NO.
Peter Kane – Held world flyweight title in 1938-39; won 88 of 99 career bouts. Vote: NO.
Cocoa Kid – Won 176 of 244 career bouts; held “colored” welterweight and middleweight world championships. Vote: NO.
Pone Kingpetch – Three flyweight championship reigns; won six of nine career title bouts. Vote: NO.
Santos Laciar – Two title reigns at 112 pounds, one at 115; won 12 of 16 career title bouts. Vote: YES.
Tippy Larkin – Won 136 of 153 career bouts; won world junior welterweight title in 1946. Vote: NO.
Jose Legra – Two reigns as WBC featherweight champion; won 134 of 150 career bouts. Vote: NO.
Danny Lopez – Held WBC featherweight title from 1976-1980; won all eight defenses inside the distance. Vote: NO.
Miguel (Happy) Lora – Held WBC bantamweight title from 1985-88; lost WBO championship tries in 1991 and 1993. Vote: NO.
Raul (Raton) Macias – World bantamweight champion between 1955-57; won one-fight comeback in 1962. Vote: NO.
Ernesto Marcel – Retired as WBA featherweight champion in 1974; defeated Alexis Arguello in final title defense. Vote: NO.
Lloyd Marshall – Won 71 of 100 career bouts; defeated Jake LaMotta by decision in 1944. Vote: NO.
Freddie Mills – Won 76 of 101 career bouts; captured world light heavyweight title in 1948. Vote: NO.
Rinty Monaghan – Won all four career title bouts; retired as world flyweight champion in 1950. Vote: NO.
Masao Ohba – Won final 19 bouts; held WBA flyweight title from 1970-73. Vote: NO.
Sven Ottke – Retired as IBF super middleweight champion in 2004; Won all 22 career title fights. Vote: YES.
Ken Overlin – Won 135 of 165 career bouts; held world middleweight title in 1940-41. Vote: NO.
Gustave Roth – Won 113 of 137 career bouts; held European welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight titles. Vote: NO.
Lou Salica – Held world bantamweight titles in 1935 and again between 1939-42; lost to fellow nominee Harry Jeffra in final bout. Vote: NO.
Dave Sands – Won 97 of 110 career bouts; held Australian middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. Vote: NO.
Petey Scalzo – Won 90 of 112 career bouts; held world featherweight title in 1940-41. Vote: NO.
Samuel Serrano – Two reigns as WBA super featherweight champion; went 15-2-1 in 18 career title bouts. Vote: YES.
Yoshio Shirai – Held world flyweight title between 1952-54; lost two subsequent title tries against Pascual Perez. Vote: NO.
Kid Tunero – Won 97 of 148 career bouts; went 1-6-2 in final nine bouts before retirement at age 38. Vote: NO.
Wilfredo Vazquez – Held WBA titles at 118, 122 and 126 pounds; went 16-3-2 in 21 career title bouts. Vote: YES.
Myung-Woo Yuh – Two reigns as WBA light flyweight champion; won 20 of 21 career title bouts. Vote: YES.
Hilario Zapata – Two reigns as WBC light flyweight champion and one as WBA flyweight champion; went 18-5-2 in title bouts. Vote: YES.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF featherweight title – Tijuana, Mexico
Cristobal Cruz (champion) vs. Ricardo Castillo (No. 15 contender)
Cruz (39-11-1, 23 KO): Third title defense; Defeated Castillo (UD 8) in 2003
Castillo (38-7, 25 KO): Winless in three title fights at 122; Unbeaten in 2009 (3-0, 1 KO)
FitzHitz says: Cruz by decision
Last week’s picks: 0-1
Overall picks record: 48-14 (77.4 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can’t think of many better places to be than Canastota next June 13. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz.