Thomas “Hitman” Hearns leads a heavy duty roster of greats into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend in Las Vegas.
Detroit’s Hearns will be joined in the Hall of Fame along with departed inductees including Salvador Sanchez, Ken Norton and referee Davey Pearl. Several others will also be honored in a two-day affair at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday.
The Nevada Hall of Fame will also award several current boxers for their performances in 2017 including Layla McCarter and Shawn Porter as “Fighters of the Year.” This year amateurs are also awarded and those tabbed are Yarisel Ramirez and Emiliano Fernando Vargas.
McCarter, 38, defeated Szilvia Szabados by knockout last April and is considered the best female fighter pound for pound. She has not lost a fight in 10 years.
Porter, 29, won by knockout over Andre Berto in April and is considered one of the most exciting welterweights in the world today.
Prospects of the year are Latondria Jones and Kevin Newman.
A Humanitarian Award will be given to Jill Diamond and the President’s award to Jimmy Montoya.
Those inducted into the Hall of Fame this year are:
Lucia Rijker – considered by most experts the best female boxer of all time. “The Dutch Destroyer” was never defeated inside a boxing ring and fought from 1996 to 2004. She had the entire war chest of speed, power, skill and defense. The only thing that eluded her was the big payday and mega fight. But anyone who saw her perform was thoroughly impressed with her fighting skills. One classic fight was her battle with a young Chevelle Hallback. It was an explosive example of how good female boxing could be.
Michael Carbajal – the light flyweight from Phoenix, Arizona proved to the world that even the little guys could hit with power. Very few opponents could stand toe to toe with “Little Hands of Stone” including Mexico’s Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez who in 1993 was defeated by Carbajal in their first encounter in Las Vegas. The two light flyweights became the first in their weight class to break the million dollar barrier. Carbajal retired after winning the WBO light flyweight title in 1999 by knockout over Jorge Arce. Carbajal also won the 1988 Seoul Olympics silver medal.
Leon and Michael Spinks – were the first brothers to win gold medals in boxing in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. They were also the first brothers to win heavyweight world championships. Michael Spinks is considered one of the top light heavyweights of all time before heading toward the heavyweight division. He dethroned Larry Holmes who had reigned as heavyweight champion for seven-plus years. Older brother Leon Spinks made history by defeating the great Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight world title after only seven pro fights in February 1978. He lost the title back to Ali in September 1978.
Richie Sandoval – The Pomona prizefighter ended the long reign of Philadelphia great “Joltin” Jeff Chandler in April 1984 to win the world bantamweight title. Sandoval was a boxer-puncher who learned his craft while fighting primarily in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He lost only one fight in his professional career and now lives in Las Vegas where he now works with Top Rank in the boxing industry. It’s been a long time coming for the slick bantamweight champion.
Eric Morales – The Mexican fighter is perhaps the greatest boxer to ever come out of the boxing rich town of Tijuana. Morales engaged in some of the most riveting fights in the last 20 years including his wars with Marco Antonio Barrera, Manny Pacquiao and Marcos Maidana. His first clash with fellow Mexican Barrera is considered one of the greatest fights of all time. It was a mesmerizing affair that took place in Las Vegas in 2000. Morales won world titles as a super bantamweight, featherweight and super lightweight.
Tommy Hearns – Detroit’s “Hitman” Hearns was a fearsome sight with his long lean body and explosive speed and power. His welterweight battle between undefeated world champions in 1981 with Ray Leonard is considered a classic. He also battled against the best of his time including Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He won world titles as a welterweight, super welterweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. He possessed shocking power in that lean body frame.
Gone But Not Forgotten:
Salvador Sanchez – hailed from a small town in Mexico and fought in some classic battles against Azumah Nelson, Danny “Lil Red” Lopez and Ruben Castillo. But perhaps his most famous clash came against Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez who at the time of their confrontation in August 1981 was considered pound for pound the best fighter in the world. Gomez had knocked out 32 consecutive opponents when he moved up a division to face Sanchez. In their fight the Mexican featherweight knocked down Gomez early then knocked him out in the eighth round. It was Gomez’s first defeat. Sadly, Sanchez would only fight three more times before dying in a car crash in the mountains of Mexico in August 1982. He was only 23 years old.
Ken Norton – was known as the heavyweight whose style always gave the great Muhammad Ali problems whenever they fought. Though he never captured a heavyweight world title he was an important factor in the golden era of heavyweights. Aside from clashing with Ali three times he also fought George Foreman, Larry Holmes, and Jerry Quarry. Norton fought several times in Las Vegas including his contests against Holmes and Jimmy Young. He passed away in 2013.
Contributors to Boxing’s Glory
Debbie Munch – vice president of public relations at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and its affiliate properties for more than 30 years. Many of the most historic prize fights took place at Caesars Palace during her tenure including Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez and Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney.
Rafael Garcia – corner man for Floyd Mayweather and numerous other fighters. He was born in Mexico City and rose through the boxing ranks as a trainer for many boxers, then as a cut man for Mayweather. He’s famous for always wearing a dark hat with medals attached to it. He’s considered one of the best in the boxing business in wrapping hands and treating cuts during a fight.
Mel Greb – a boxing promoter and matchmaker during the 1970s and 1980s in Nevada. He was a part of some of the biggest boxing collaborations that took part in Nevada. Muhammad Ali reportedly fought in Las Vegas because of Greb, who inadvertently introduced him to wrestler Gorgeous George on a radio show. Ali is said to have been impressed by his braggadocio and implemented the tactics for his own career. Greb also worked at Caesars Palace to help pay the phone bills of his matchmaking career. He passed away in 1997 at age 75. He helped stage Ali vs. Jerry Quarry II, Leon Spinks vs. Scott LeDoux and Sonny Liston vs Floyd Patterson II.
Dr. Elias Ghanem – First appointed to the Nevada State Athletic Commission in 1987, he headed the commission from 1997 to 2001. Under his watch he resided over the famous ear biting incident involving Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. He passed away in August 2001 at age 62.
Davey Pearl – a veteran boxing referee and judge who worked more than 70 world title fights in his career including Ray Leonard vs Tommy Hearns and Salvador Sanchez vs. Juan La Porte. The last world title bout he refereed was a cruiserweight bout between Evander Holyfield vs. Rickey Parkey in 1987. Pearl passed away at age 88 in 2006.
Fri. – A meet and greet with boxers will take place at the Palace Ballroom in Caesars Palace between 12 noon and 4 p.m.
Sat. – Amateur fights will take place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Roman Ballroom in Caesars Palace.
Sat. – Celebrity red carpet begins at 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Sat. – Hall of Fame induction gala from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information call (702) 368-2463.
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