The Hallowed Halls
"I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name
Remember” – Irene Cara
There are a few perks that go along with being a boxing writer: The ring card girls may give you the time of day because they think you're someone important due to your close proximity to the ring. Occasionally you get free parking at the event (but usually not). And you get to cast a ballot for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
About a year ago, I wrote about my disappointment that the IBHOF more closely resembles a college bar rather than an exclusive club as far as who they let in. I want the Hall to be like those clubs with the velvet rope and the stylish bouncer with the earpiece, who picks and chooses who is beautiful enough to enter. You know, the one where you're standing on line thinking, "I can't believe they let that guy in. I'm just as good as he is." But you know that, no, you're really not. Just because you have an ID that says you're of age doesn't mean you gain automatic entry. Last year's diatribe, When Pretty Good is Good Enough, can be read here.
This year, I've been working on trying to be a more positive, cheerful person. I've engaged in some deep breathing relaxation techniques, visualizing letting all of the negative energy escape through my pores. When I find myself in my usual sullen patterns I say, “That was the old Marc. I'm glad I don't do that anymore." Besides, if I write the column before the results are released, I'll be less likely to act like a crybaby and hurl insults at people and an institution that I genuinely respect.
This year's ballot for the “Moderns” category contained forty-five candidates, with a few changes from last year. The four inductees from last year: Bobby Chacon, Duilio Loi, Barry McGuigan and Terry Norris are obviously off the ballot. They were replaced by Georgie Abrams, Michael Carbajal, Humberto Gonzalez and Edwin Rosario. I voted for two of these four, plus five others. Voters are allowed to select up to 10 boxers. This year three will be elected.
So if you've read this far, I'm sure by now you're waiting with baited breath to see who was good enough to get through my velvet ropes.
Michael Carbajal – 1988 Olympic sliver medalist. He was the IBF junior flyweight champ from 1990-1994, defending the crown eight times. In 1992, he captured the WBC baubles via a seventh-round knockout over Humberto Gonzalez. Carbajal climbed off the deck twice to win the fight. He lost both titles to Gonzalez in 1994 on a split decision and then in a rematch dropped a majority decision nine months later. Carbajal went on a seven-fight win streak (six by KO) and recaptured the IBF junior fly championship in 1996 by decisioning Melchor Cob Castro. He lost his title for good to Mauricio Pastrana in 1997. Carbajal won the last four fights of his career. His last was an impressive 11th round TKO over Jorge Arce, still at the Jr. Flyweight limit. His Hall of Fame career ended at 49-4 (33)
Carbajal was one of the greats and I'll be shocked if his plaque doesn't join the other ring immortals in Canastota next June.
Humberto Gonzalez – “Chiquita” won the WBC junior flyweight title in 1989, defending it five times (including three times in three months) before being upset by Rolando Pascua in 1990. Gonzalez regained the title from Melchor Cob Castro in 1991 and defended it four times the following year. He lost it in the first of his thrilling three-bout series with Carbajal. He regained the crown in the rematch (W 12) and had three more successful defenses, including the rubber match over the American (W 12), before being stopped by Saman Sorjaturong in 1995. He finished with a 43-3 (31) record, including 15-3 (9) in world title fights.
It's difficult for boxers in the lower weights to get recognition. Considering that the Hall of Fame (in all sports, not just boxing) is somewhat of a popularity contest, Gonzalez may have difficulty getting in, despite his lofty credentials. Although he was upset twice, he also beat one of the all time greats twice and defeated other very good boxers of his era.
Here is what I wrote last year about the following four fighters who once again received my vote:
The IBHOF is clearly biased towards American and European fighters. Since most of the writers who vote are from North America and Europe, it makes sense that they'll vote for the guys they see on a regular basis. It's tough to analyze an Asian fighter's credentials when he never ventures out of his region.
However, I believe these boxers deserve our attention and study as to whether they belong in the hallowed halls next to the Joe Louises and Fred Apostolis of the boxing world.
Yoko Gushiken fought exclusively in Japan, yet held the WBA featherweight title for five years, compiling a 23-1 record during his career.
Brian Mitchell never took on any all time greats, but he retained his super featherweight title for five years and retired as champion. He lost just once in 49 bouts. That's dominance.
Masao Ohba fought only once outside of Japan, a ninth-round KO victory in San Antonio, Texas, before he won the title. He started boxing professionally two weeks after his 15th birthday. When Ohba, 35-2-1, died in a car wreck at the age of 23, he had been the WBA flyweight champ for more than two years.
When it comes to Myung-Woo Yuh I can only wonder, what's a brother got to do to get into the Hall of Fame? He held the WBA junior flyweight title for six years, defended it 18 times and then recaptured it from the guy who beat him in the very next fight. Yuh retired after making one defense of his second reign with a ledger that read: 38-1 (14).
Lastly, I was surprised as I found myself making a check mark next to the name Lloyd Marshall. The light heavyweight known as "Black Dynamite" put together a record of 75-24-4 (34). Marshall never fought for the championship due to the politics of the era and frozen titles during World War II. Marshall holds victories over legendary Hall of Famers including Jake LaMotta, Ezzard Charles and Charlie Burley. Other notables who suffered defeats at the hands of Marshall include Freddie Mills, Holman Williams, Ken Overlin, Joey Maxim and Anton Christoforidis.
Marshall is not the kind of pick that I usually make, but I found it hard to ignore the first class names on his resume. Had he received a shot at the title, I have a feeling his name would be much more recognizable today.
I'd guess that of the above-mentioned boxers, only Carbajal will be enshrined in Canastota next year. As long as the voters are being more selective, that will be fine with me. Just please don't put Tommy Farr in there with him.
* I was crucified the last time I said Jermain Taylor was unimpressive in his win against Bernard Hopkins. This time I'll just say that for all of his gifts, Taylor seems to fade badly at the end. I wonder what would happen if an opponent is able to give him a few rounds of hell earlier in a fight. Would he have enough left later on to finish the job?
* I like almost all sports. I'm a huge baseball fan and love football too. I watched the Taylor vs. Hopkins fight with a few industry insiders. I can say without a doubt that seeing a big fight, with people who really know what they're talking about, is hands down the most fun I can have as a spectator of any sporting event.
* Please, Don King and Bob Arum, make the Zab Judah vs. Floyd Mayweather fight happen. I can't think of another fight (including Castillo vs. Corrales III) that I would like to see more.
* Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Ed Schuyler wrote on this site that the late Pat Putnam belongs there as well. I couldn't agree more and I think it will happen.
Until next time, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.