When the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot was released in late September it had swelled to 41 fighters in the modern boxer category because of tweaks made to when a fighter could be eligible for the first time.
But as many greats as there were on the ballot, three first-timers stood out and were widely viewed as surefire entries. Sure enough, when the balloting results were announced on Wednesday they were the three elected: Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez and “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
All three were among boxing’s biggest names throughout the 2000s, regularly appeared in pound-for-pound rankings, won multiple world titles and regularly faced elite competition.
They will be enshrined during the 31st annual induction weekend on June 14 at the Canastota, New York, museum.
Members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians – about 200 voters — elected them from a ballot that used to include fighters eligible for the first time five years after their last fight. But that threshold was changed in July to make fighters eligible if they had not boxed for only three years.
The Hall of Fame also added women to the ballot this year and Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker were elected.
Three of boxing’s highest-profile promoters of recent decades were elected in the non-participant category, the late Dan Goossen, Kathy Duva and Lou DiBella.
In the observer category, award-winning writers Bernard Fernandez and Thomas Hauser were elected.
After a 4½-year prison sentence for armed robbery, Philadelphia’s Hopkins went on to become a boxing legend during his 28-year career in which he won the undisputed middleweight world championship and the light heavyweight championship. He made a middleweight division-record 20 consecutive title defenses and was also a three-time light heavyweight titlist before retiring at the end of 2016.
“I’m glad I’m entering the house of greatness past and present,” Hopkins said. “Thanks to boxing I became a greater inspiration to the world.”
Known as “The Executioner” and later as “The Alien,” Hopkins (55-8-2, 2 no contests, 32 KOs) was the consensus 2001 fighter of the year after knocking out Felix Trinidad in the 12th round to become undisputed middleweight champion. He eventually jumped up two weight classes and upset Antonio Tarver by one-sided decision to become the lineal light heavyweight king in 2006. He also defeated Oscar De La Hoya, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones Jr. (albeit a faded version their rematch) and Jean Pascal.
Hopkins’ 10-year-plus middleweight title reign is the longest in history. In 2011, Hopkins broke heavyweight legend George Foreman’s record as the oldest fighter to win a world title when, at 46 years, 4 months, 6 days, he outpointed Pascal to win a light heavyweight belt. In 2013, Hopkins broke his own record by winning another light heavyweight belt from Tavoris Cloud at 48 years, 1 month, 22 days. In 2014, at 49, Hopkins became the oldest fighter to unify belts when he outpointed Beibut Shumenov.
Mexican legend Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs), whose last fight was in 2014 because he could not overcome a knee injury, won world titles in four weight classes: featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight. But it was his unforgettable four-fight series with Manny Pacquiao that most will remember. Marquez was 1-2-1 in their rivalry with the first three fights being extremely close with controversial decisions, but he closed the series with an unforgettable and dramatic sixth-round knockout of Pacquiao in the fourth bout in 2012.
“This is great. I feel very happy and excited to receive this news,” Marquez said. “I am looking forward to being in Canastota for my induction. I am so happy.” Marquez also beat Marco Antonio Barrera, Manuel Medina, Orlando Salido, Derrick Gainer, Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz (twice, including in the 2009 ESPN fight of the year), Michael Katsidis and Mike Alvarado in his final fight.
Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs), of Pomona, California, blazing fast in his prime, won titles at lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight and also was a former pound-for-pound king. He could do it all, was one of the best-ever lightweights (eight defenses, all by KO) and was the 1998 fighter of the year. Then he jumped up two divisions and eventually dethroned De La Hoya for the welterweight title in their classic first fight in 2000.
“I’m so happy and honored. I’ve worked my whole life for this,” Mosley said. “Even when I started as a kid at 8 years old I knew this is what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. I have accomplished my goals to be one of the greats and go into the Hall of Fame, so this is a great honor.”
Mosley’s election will be viewed as controversial by some because he admitted under oath to a grand jury related to the Victor Conte/BALCO steroid scandal that while training for the 2003 rematch with De La Hoya (which Mosley won by controversial decision to claim the unified junior middleweight title) that he unknowingly used Conte’s designer steroids “the clear” and “the cream,” which could not be detected in drug tests.
Martin (49-7-3, 31 KOs), known as “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and Rijker (17-0, 14 KOs), known as “The Dutch Destroyer,” fought primarily at lightweight and junior welterweight and were contemporaries on a collision course to meet, but never did because when the fight was finally made in 2005 Rijker suffered an Achilles injury and it was canceled. However, they each won various titles and were the best of their time.
“I just wanted to be a fighter and fit into the world of boxing and this is a dream come true,” Martin said. “I’m always excited to come back to Canastota but to come back this year will be very special.”
Martin helped usher women’s boxing into the mainstream thanks to exciting fights on Mike Tyson undercards and a 1996 appearance on Sports Illustrated’s cover.
Rijker had extraordinary physical gifts but was not as well known until her appearance in the film “Million Dollar Baby.” She was a kickboxing star before changing sports and having her boxing career cut short by injuries.
“This is very moving. It makes me feel emotional,” Rijker said. “As I entered normal life after boxing there is a memory of boxing that is in my heart and soul. There is really a strong connection I have to that era and I am really honored to be reminded of that time because sometimes there is a time in your life where everything comes together — mind, body and spirit – and definitely my boxing career aligned all three of them to be the best I could be on all levels. I’m very grateful for that and grateful to be recognized.”
Goossen was a larger than life promoter who rose from putting on club shows in Southern California to some of the biggest fights in the sport.
“This is the best news I’ve had in years,” said Joe Goossen, Dan’s brother and also a top trainer and broadcaster. “Aside from being very, very, very emotional right now upon hearing the news, I am just so happy for Dan getting this recognition. Anybody with big aspirations in the boxing game that has worked for decades in it, the ultimate compliment and payoff is not money or fame, it is the recognition you get for your work and I’m thankful that he is getting recognized for that. I’m very thankful and proud of my brother and very thankful for the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the recognition because it really is the pinnacle of being recognized by your peers.”
Dan Goossen was involved in many major fights and promoted boxers such as Mike Tyson, Hopkins, James Toney, Floyd Mayweather, Terry Norris, Michael Nunn, Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, David Reid, Andre Ward, Joel Casamayor, David Tua, Paul Williams and Chris Arreola. He was 64 when he died from cancer in 2014.
“My wife Sandi and I want to say on behalf of our family, we thank everyone that voted for him for this honor,” said promoter Tom Brown, Goossen’s brother-in-law, who worked side by side with him at their various promotional companies. “For over 40 years, I watched Dan give everything he had to this sport because he loved it. He loved our fighters and loved seeing them in the ring and win. He is missed, but now he is immortalized as a Hall of Famer and it is so well deserved.”
Duva, the CEO of Main Events, joins her late husband, Main Events founder Dan Duva, and late father-in-law, legendary trainer and manager Lou Duva, in the HOF.
She began as a publicist for upstart Main Events in 1977 and took over the company following his death in 1996 while also raising a family and earning a law degree. She has promoted fighters such as Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Arturo Gatti, Sergey Kovalev, Tomasz Adamek, Zab Judah and Fernando Vargas.
“It’s such an honor to be joining my husband, father-in-law, and many of the boxers Main Events has developed and worked with over the years, in the International Boxing Hall of Fame,” Duva said. “Over 40 years ago, when I started working in boxing, this was unfathomable. We had to threaten lawsuits more than once just to get me admitted into weigh-ins. And now, to follow in the footsteps of my idols, Aileen Eaton and Lorraine Chargin, as the third woman to be inducted as a non-participant and with the first class of female boxers, will never stop amazing me. Thank you so much to the IBHOF and the voters who made this possible.”
DiBella gained fame in the sport during his days as an HBO Sports executive from 1989 to 2000, when he largely decided what fights would appear on the then-powerhouse boxing network. He created the landmark series “Boxing After Dark.”
After leaving the network, the New Yorker founded DiBella Entertainment and has promoted since. He has worked with fighters such as Hopkins, Deontay Wilder, Sergio Martinez, Micky Ward, Jermain Taylor, Ike Quartey, Andre Berto, Paulie Malignaggi and Regis Prograis.
“When I was a kid, watching Nino Benvenuti on the tube with my grandfathers and my dad, and following (Muhammad) Ali fights with a transistor radio under my pillow, I wanted to be a part of it,” DiBella said. “Boxing thrilled me like nothing else. But I never dreamed that I would one day be in the IBHOF with my heroes, the greatest fighters who ever lived, and so many storied men and women who would become colleagues and friends. I’m humbled and I’m truly grateful for this recognition, an affirmation that I gave my best to a sport I love.”
Fernandez, a New Orleans native, covered boxing at Philadelphia Daily News from 1984 to 2012 and remains involved as a freelancer for various website since his retirement from the newspaper. He served five terms as president of the Boxing Writers Association of America and received the organization’s Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in boxing journalism in 1998.
“People like (Hall of Fame writers) Jerry Izenberg and Dave Anderson are people I have admired at the highest level of my profession and I guess this honor is saying I move into their company and it is very humbling,” Fernandez said.
Hauser, a New Yorker, wrote the definitive Ali biography, “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times” in 1991 and has covered boxing since the 1980s. He won the Fleischer Award in 2004, has written numerous award-winning in-depth and behind the scenes stories and also has authored 52 books.
“There were times when I fantasized about this happening, but I really didn’t think it would,” Hauser said. “Right now, all the clichés ring true for me. I’m thrilled, gratified, and very moved by this honor.”
Also elected were Switzerland’s Frank Erne, a former featherweight and lightweight world champion, who boxed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, in the old-timer category; Irish heavyweight Paddy Ryan, who boxed in the late 1800s and defeated Joe Gans and lost to John L. Sullivan, in the pioneer category; and England’s Barbara Buttrick, who came to the U.S. in the 1950s to box legally, in the women’s trailblazer category.