Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame honors 2015 inductees during star-studded gala event

August 9, 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada -- The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame held its 2015 induction ceremony Saturday at Caesar’s Palace for its most recent class.  Among the 22 honorees were such luminaries and great fighters as Felix Trinidad, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Marco Antonio Barrera, Johnny Tapia, Roger Mayweather, and Lennox Lewis.

Normally that list alone would be impressive.  However, the biggest stars of the night were unquestionably "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, "Iron" Mike Tyson, and "The Greatest," Muhammad Ali.

Tyson certainly endeared himself to the fans in attendance, as he not only delivered an eloquent speech emphasizing his tremendous respect for Ali as a fighter, humanitarian, and social activist, but also gave such an effortless blow-by-blow account of the action displayed on the big screen during Ali’s induction video, that he put emcee and professional broadcaster Al Bernstein to shame.

Although Ali was not on hand to accept his award in person, his daughter Rasheda graciously accepted on his behalf, noting that when her father learned of the honor he remarked, “What took them so long?”

The still sharp and astute Hagler received the warmest reception upon his introduction, and actually had his voice crack as he choked up and stepped away on a couple of occasions. This emotional display was very surprising to most in attendance, including the Marvelous one himself, who stated, “I didn’t think this would happen to me.”

Floyd Mayweather, who is still active for at least one more bout as a professional prizefighter, was also honored as the 2015 Fighter of the Year in Nevada. Mayweather, in what was by far the longest acceptance speech of the night, was very humble in singling out many of the lesser known fighters in his TMT stable, and even brought his father, Floyd Senior, onstage to share the limelight with him.

It was a night filled with a who’s who of the Nevada fight scene from the past thirty-plus years, as other noteworthy fighters on hand included Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Zab Judah, Hasim Rahman, and Earnie Shavers, to name a few.

Lennox Lewis also shared some candid anecdotes with the gathered masses, interestingly recalling the first time he encountered a young Tyson up in the Catskills:

“Back in 1983 the Americans had one of the best teams, next to the Cubans. I was happy because I had won this tournament. But then I started hearing some of the guys saying, 'Oh you didn’t beat the best guy on the team.'" 
"So I didn’t really feel like a world champion at the time, so my trainer and I said, 'Ok, we gotta find this guy.'" 
"Anyway, me and Mike Tyson met finally, lovely guy, he brought me into his room and he showed me some old fight footage on this backdrop of this big white sheet, and he’s showed me boxers that I’ve never seen before and he told me all about the different techniques of fighting and he was really educated on old fighters, and I was saying, 'This guy's a really remarkable, interesting guy.'"
"So when we finally jumped in the ring together and sparred and I was running around like Muhammad Ali, and then I guess Mike didn’t want me to move around anymore, so he dropped his hands, and I just (mimics a few punches) and then I hear someone yell, 'Mike! Don't do that — You're gonna fight that guy someday!'" 
"So I always living it in my mind whether we were gonna fight or not. So I didn’t know if this fight was ever gonna happen or not, because we were the best in our era, people deserve to know who the best fighter is in this era. Now, I was preparing for this animal that I knew since we were both teenagers that I was going to have to fight one day."

Honorees in the “Pioneer Class” included such greats as James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, the legendary Jack Johnson, and the underappreciated Joe Gans.  Promoter Tex Rickard was also posthumously inducted.

Bonus Coverage: Interview with Marvin Hagler

Prior to his induction, Hagler was gracious enough to speak with this reporter. Below are some of the topics we discussed about his career and the sport.

On his fights with Hearns, Leonard, and Duran:
“I just think that fighting Tommy Hearns, Leonard, and Duran, I’m glad that that happened. So that when I retired I have something to look back on and the fans can remember. And, as of today, people ask about those fights, It’s like they were yesterday, it don’t look like they were 30 years ago. And look at me, I’m still sitting here in front of you talking to you guys, and its an honor to be here. Its all crystal clear because they (the fans) don’t let me forget!" 
"Me and Tommy we didn’t like each other, Tommy I give him a lot of credit because he came to take away my title. I got a lot of respect for him because Tommy he showed me his courage, he showed me his heart, he showed me his skills, he showed me his punching power so I have nothing against Tommy. It was a great fight, I think that fight was the highlight of my career. Well you know what, everybody says to me the same thing they say, 'You know, I stopped watching boxing after you retired.’" 
And it’s hard to believe, but now I can see the reason why, because nobody still knows who the heavyweight champion is when I ask them. They say, oh yeah, ‘Mike Tyson!’  So that shows how far back they go."

On Floyd Mayweather and Rocky Marciano:
"I think it could be an interesting fight, but you know what everybody is talking about Floyd Mayweather to win his 49th or 50th win, but you gotta realize too, that this guy is not a heavyweight like Marciano was. If it was 50 fights in the heavyweight division then that would be historic and that would make history. I don’t think because Mayweather wins his 50th fight or whatever that its gonna be the same as if he was a heavyweight."

On Rocky Marciano and his influence on Hagler's start in the sport:
"You know what, that’s probably the next thing that I think should happen for me is probably have a statue out in my city of Brockton because it’s the City of Champions and there’s two champions that came out of there." 
"And following under Rocky Marciano’s shadow in the beginning when I came out of Brockton wasn’t easy for me. Plus the fact that he was white, and second was that he was a heavyweight. Then here I was, I’m black, plus I’m a middleweight and not trying have that style of a Marciano. Marciano was a banger, he wasn’t that tall, and he had a big heart, but he worked hard. And I had a little bit of that in the beginning of my career, and it helped me to win those fights, the Philadelphia fights."

On boxers today:
"And I see people trying to switch back and forth from righty to lefty, and don’t realize that I had to master that. It takes a lot of time to be able to do that without even thinking. To be able to fight on the outside, fight on the inside it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Because I was never satisfied." 
"I just want to see these guys with my title represent it well the way I used to. Well you know, I’m listening to people all around the world, in Europe and everything, people they didn’t like that kind of style. With the kind of money that was put out there, they were expecting a head on head kind of fight for that money that was there. I mean, no blood, no knockdown, no nothing. It seems like a rip-off.” 

By Kweku Turkson
Reporter for 

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