A new batch of talent, in ring and out, has been immortalized, their stamp upon the sweet science made indelible by their entry Sunday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in Canastota, NY.
Vitali Klitschko is arguably the best known today of the entrants, being that he’s continued to grow his profile, post pugilism.
“It's not reality — it's dream,” Klitschko said Sunday. “I never expected I will be in [the Hall of Fame]. I didn't expect one day I become world champion in the United States. I'm very proud to be together with boxing legends. It's a dream to be in with Muhammad Ali.”
The boxer who delivered the best bang for the viewer buck in this class is Erik Morales..
..while Ronald “Winky” Wright gains entry and assessment as perhaps the best pure pugilist of the bunch.
Steve Albert and Jim Gray, as well as German promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl were honored in the non-participant category. Ring announcer Johnny Addie and promoter Lorraine Chargin, beloved missus to West Coast legend Don Chargin, also were immortalized.
..is now mayor of Kiev, and from 1996 to 2013 and amassed, in a weak era for heavyweights, a 45-2 record with 41 knockouts. Of the brothers, he was seen as more the pure warrior sort, while brother Wlad, who’ll head the 2022 class, the better technical athlete.
Morales won titles in four weight divisions. Tabbed “El Terrible,” the native of Mexico leaves behind a rivalry for the ages, with his dance-offs with Marco Antonio Barrera helping keep the sport relevant during a transition time. He retired with a pro record of 52-9 (36 KOs).
Wright, a native of Washington, D.C., was a 5-foot-10 southpaw whose defensive wizardry was severely hard to handle for any foe. No, he wasn’t always perceived as “TV friendly” and that held him back in some ways, but real fans know his worth. Winky ends with a 51-6-1 (25 KOs) mark.
Gray wasn’t present for a Showtime card Saturday and didn’t add to the 700 championship bouts as part of the broadcast team at Showtime, with a good excuse.
“This award is way, way overdue,” his pal Tyson said, sobbing, and stealing the show. “I'm very proud of you. Well-deserved.”
“It's ironic. The man who threatened to kill me in public is now inducting me into the Hall of Fame,” Gray said during his time at the mic. “My journey today has been an unlikely one. The Boxing Hall of Fame immortalized all of these great fighters, so this magnificent honor comes with tremendous humility. How could this happen? I never took a punch.”
There was more color and drama found elsewhere during the gala weekend. Tyson on Saturday night threw a glass of water at old “friend” Don King, sorta, when DK passed by and patted him:
Here is Tyson explaining to his friends at Sirius/XM, Randy Gordon and Gerry Cooney, what went down:
.@SiriusXM EXCLUSIVE: @MikeTyson explains why he threw a glass of water at Don King last night at the #ibhof2018 induction weekend, telling @CommishRandyG & @gerrycooney that while he shouldn’t have done that, King shouldn’t have approached Mike like he was Tyson’s friend. pic.twitter.com/HpNBR9a8Xj
— SiriusXM Boxing (@SiriusXMBoxing) June 10, 2018
The whole weekend is always gold for true fight fans, who hobnob with legends, and see photo ops like this one; ex fighter John Scully grabbed this pic Friday night, of ex dance mates Tyson and Michael Spence.
My three cents: Boxing, as much as any sport, deserves to have a thriving and relevant Hall of Fame. The crew at Canastota, headed up by Ed Brophy, has been succeeding at making that so.