(Re-written July 2010 by MJ Law)
Who supports the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York? Every boxing fan should, because it's a terrific opportunity to celebrate the sweet science and pay tribute to all those who have partaken in it and left us with a treasure trove of special moments. If you ever get the chance to visit the induction ceremony each June you should take it. The local residents and Hall of Fame staff make you feel welcome and it's just spellbinding to mix with some great champs. In just about every case I agree with the chosen inductees, though there have been one or two bizarre entrants that defy logic. Jose Sulaiman is a prime example. When considering this, the subject of "opposites" springs to mind. Everything has an opposite, right? Good/bad. Big/small. Beautiful/ugly. Therefore, what if there was an opposite to the International Boxing Hall of Fame? What if there was a Boxing Hall of Infamy, with entrants whose contribution to boxing is somewhat dubious? Who would get nominated? Well.....
The Alphabet Groups (all of them)
All the boxing fans I know despise them and either laugh or shake their heads in dismay at their shenanigans. Many fans are of the opinion that what they have done to boxing is woeful: way too many titles, too many weight divisions, reluctance to unify, questionable ratings, seemingly regular title strippings, pointless mandatories, and on and on and on. There are so many belt-holders out there now that it’s impossible to keep track of who’s defending what. Do we really need weight divisions such as mini-flyweight (or strawweight or whatever reference each alphabet group prefers)? Of course, with more weight divisions come more titles and therefore, more sanctioning fees. Is it true that money overrules the good of the sport?
Then we have the groan-inducing mandatory defences that boxing fans have to endure. Remember IBF heavyweight titleholder Wladimir Klitschko’s bout against Ray Austin in 2007? Let’s face it, that was a meaningless match-up that had no public appeal. Who benefited from this? Certainly not the heavyweight division, which didn’t advance because of it. And if the division wanted to move forward and gain some respect along with crossover media attention, then Klitschko should have faced Shannon Briggs, or Oleg Maskaev, or Samuel Peter, all of whom at the time were more worthy opponents than Austin. It’s the fault of the alphabet groups for forcing needless defences on their title-holders and it will continue unless somebody does something about it.
Did Wladimir Klitschko (seen here on the left against Eliseo Castillo) have any choice in who he defended his IBF heavyweight title against?
There is actually a faction who can stop this: the boxers themselves. Let’s say, for example, Joe Ordinary is stripped of his alphabet belt for admitting that his favourite colour is blue (or some other contrived reason), and Eddie Trialhorse and Johnny Journeyman are nominated to fight for the vacant title. What if Eddie and Johnny decline, exclaiming “We don’t wanna fight for your senseless belt and hand over a pile of our hard-earned cash in sanctioning fees! But we’ll fight each other anyway on our own terms to prove who’s the best!” If all boxers did this then the alphabet groups would be dropped quicker than a hooker’s panties. Many fans would probably agree that the alphabet groups should go into a Boxing Hall of Infamy.
Jose J Guerra
This boxing judge should be nominated for the absurd score he produced in the Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard “superfight” of April 6th 1987. He scored 118-110 for Leonard, which equates to 10-2 in rounds. I’ve watched this fight numerous times and I’m convinced Hagler won. I can’t give Leonard any more than five rounds.
The other judges, Dave Moretti and Lou Filippo, scored 115-113 for Leonard and 115-113 for Hagler respectively. Why was Guerra’s score so out of sync with their’s?
Although I favour Hagler, I do acknowledge that Leonard performed much better than expected and that the fight was close. But no matter what Leonard said, there will always be an air of controversy attached to his “victory” over the Marvelous One. In a way, this is the type of fight that no one could win, because even if the decision had gone to Hagler it would still be controversial because some fans and journalists would claim that Leonard was robbed. In a close fight, opinions will always be divided. That’s why we continue to grumble about the verdicts in Muhammad Ali-Jimmy Young and Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez. Even the dubious decision in Mickey Walker-Tiger Flowers has never been laid to rest, and that was in 1926!
The decision in the Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard bout was very controversial
The gripe here is that Guerra’s result is so lopsided. Maybe he was distracted by the round card girls. Actually, mentioning round card girls, I’ve sometimes wondered how boxers manage to concentrate on what their trainer is telling them between rounds when there is a scantily-clad babe strolling by. And why do the cameramen tend to pan away from these babes? Anyway, Guerra’s figures are more appropriate for, say, Evander Holyfield-Larry Holmes in 1992, but not Hagler-Leonard. It was not a one-sided fight! Even those who reckoned that Leonard won have to admit that it was close. Therefore, Guerra should be handed a ticket to the Boxing Hall of Infamy for his off-base scoring.
Some boxing fans may wish to nominate the “Macho Man” for not fulfilling his potential, and they may have a case. However, no disrespect but I suggest he be nominated for his crazy ring attire! It’s not unusual in the modern era for a boxer to wear a ridiculous pair of trunks (just consider Luis Collazo’s questionable fashion sense in his fight with Ricky Hatton in 2006). And it’s not just trunks that have reached absurd proportions, it’s ring entrances too. Before the first bell even rang, Floyd Mayweather should have had a point deducted for his over-the-top gladiator act prior to his world welterweight title clash with Carlos Baldomir in 2006. Another culprit in this department was Naseem Hamed, the former featherweight champ. With all the showbiz fanfare and messing about he went through to get into the ring, it was a wonder he ever got there on the same night the fight was scheduled! Remember his entrance for his showdown with Marco Antonio Barrera in 2001 in which he was supported on some sort of bizarre trapeze-like contraption? Oh dear. Could you imagine Jack Dempsey or Stanley Ketchel indulging in such antics? Absolutely not. Even Muhammad Ali, the ultimate showman, never sported hideous, garish trunks with tassels and goodness knows what else hanging off them. One of the most admirable things about Mike Tyson was his throwback appearance in the ring. Those all-black trunks and the “no-robe-no-socks” look was oh-so cool. Evander Holyfield always managed to look classy and dignified without having to resemble Robert Redford in “The Electric Horseman".
Was the outfit worn by Redford's character in "The Electric Horseman" an inspiration for boxers?
Though there have been many boxers who adopted and continue to adopt clownish apparel (former top featherweight Jorge Paez is another that springs to mind), Camacho may have been the instigator. Maybe I’m being old fashioned or a fuddy duddy, but I don’t care. This is boxing. It’s not a circus and it’s not WWE wrestling. So Camacho should gain entry into the Boxing Hall of Infamy on grounds of fashion sense!
Did Hector Camacho have good taste in fashion?
There’s plenty of scope for a good, fun debate over who you’d nominate to be sent to this imaginary hall. How about John Horne, one-time co-manager of Mike Tyson, for his nauseating comments after the Holyfield-Tyson rematch, when he pathetically attempted to justify Tyson’s appalling ear-biting actions? The next time you and your buddies gather to see a big fight on a Saturday night, you could compile a list while sitting back with a Budweiser and a pizza. Maybe you agree or disagree with me, but one thing’s for sure, Jose Sulaiman’s enshrinement into the real hall caused an awful lot of head-scratching.