JOE Calzaghe last night spoke of his immense pride at being selected for for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The Welshman, who retired undefeated in 2008 with a 100 per cent record from 46 fights, which included 21 defences of his super middleweight title, will enter the hall of fame at a ceremony in Canastota on 8 June in another stellar batch of inductees which includes Oscar De La Hoya and Felix “Tito” Trinidad of Puerto Rico.
“It’s amazing that they’ve given me the call,” said Calzaghe in an interview yesterday with boxingnewsonline. “To be a first ballot Hall of Famer with the likes of Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya is amazing. It’s great for my family and my dad [trainer Enzo], I wouldn’t be here without him. As regards to boxing – since I was nine years old he was always there for me and supported me so it’s for him as much as for me.
“To have [my] name mentioned alongside those guys, what can I say? It’s every fighter’s dream and it’s humbling for me. It’s nice to be respected and given this [accolade] five years after I retired. It’s every fighter’s dream. To get into the Hall of Fame and its brilliant to be respected in the States.
“It re-affirms what I did at the end of my career, to go to the States. People didn’t want me to go at the end but I wanted to fight Hopkins, I wanted to go to Madison Square Garden. I think, to be appreciated by the American writers and fans, you need to go out there not just to fight, but to win (and) beat one of their top guys.
De La Hoya, who won Olympic gold and became a champion in six weight divisions in winning 10 world titles, has also been selected. “I am honoured and appreciative to be chosen, and I thank everyone who has been a part of this journey with me,” De La Hoya said. “This is the dream of everyone who puts on a pair of gloves and steps between the ropes and through the good and the bad. You always hope that, when all is said and done, you put on good fights, entertained the fans, and will be remembered for what you did in the ring.”
Inductees were selected by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.
De La Hoya had an amateur record of 223-5 with 153 knockouts and won the lightweight gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He turned pro later that year and captured his first world title, the WBO super-featherweight crown, in only his 12th bout. De La Hoya also won titles as a lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight. His 2007 bout with Floyd Mayweather jnr was one of the richest in boxing history, attracting nearly 2.5 million pay-per-view fans. He retired after a 2008 loss to Manny Pacquiao with a professional record of 39-6 with 30 knockouts and, in 2002, established Golden Boy Promotions. The fame hasn’t come without some of the bad. De La Hoya admitted himself to a treatment facility in September as he continues to fight substance abuse. De La Hoya first admitted two years ago that he was an alcoholic and drug user and had been in treatment.
Trained by his father, Trinidad began boxing at age 10 and became one of Puerto Rico’s most accomplished fighters.
He stopped Maurice Blocker in two rounds to capture the IBF welterweight crown in his 20th pro bout and defended his title 15 times, one of those a controversial 12-round majority decision over De La Hoya.
Trinidad moved up in weight to win the WBA light middleweight title from David Reid in March 2000 and, later that year, unified titles with a 12th-round knockout against IBF champ Fernando Vargas.
In 2001, he became a three-division champion with a fifth-round knockout of William Joppy for the WBA middleweight title. “This is a great honour for me, my father, my family and my whole team,” said Trinidad, who retired in 2009 with a record of 42-3 with 35 knockouts. “This is the biggest triumph of my career.”
Joining the hard-punching trio are George Chaney, Charles Ledoux and Mike O’Dowd in the old-timer category, while Tom Allen is the lone honoree in the pioneer category. The Hall of Fame’s 25th class also includes British promoter Barry Hearn, referees Richard Steele and Eugene Corri, journalist Graham Houston and veteran Sports Illustrated photographer Neil Leifer in the non-participant and observer categories.
Oscar De La Hoya: Born California. Went 223-5 with 153 knockouts as an amateur and won lightweight gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Turned pro in 1992 and won 10 world titles in six divisions. Retired after a 2008 loss to Manny Pacquiao with a professional record of 39-6 with 30 knockouts.
Felix Trinidad: Born Puerto Rico. Began boxing at age 10 and turned pro in 1990. Won world titles at welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight. Retired with a record of 42-3.
Joe Calzaghe: Born London, but a proud Welshman. Turned pro in 1993 and never beaten in a 15-year pro career which went into orbit when he beat Chris Eubank in 1997 for WBO super middleweight championship. Successfully defended his title 21 times over the next decade. In 2007 scored a unanimous decision over Mikkel Kessler to unify three belts. In 2008 went up in weight and defeated Bernard Hopkins for light heavyweight championship. Retired with a 46-0 record with 32 knockouts.
George ‘K.O.’ Chaney: Born 1892 in Baltimore. Turned pro as a bantamweight in 1910 and is considered one of hardest hitters in boxing history. Died 1958.
Charles Ledoux: Born 1892 in Pouges les Eaux, France. Boxed from 1909 to 1926 – nearly 100 victories in 133 bouts. Died 1967.
Mike O’Dowd: Born 1895 in Minnesota. Turned pro in 1913 and after serving in Army in Europe, resumed career before retiring in 1923. Died 1957.
Tom Allen: Born 1839 in Birmingham, England. Began career in 1861 in England before arriving in the US in 1867. Had a 43-round win over Bill Davis to claim the heavyweight championship. Died in 1903.
Eugene Corri: Born 1857 and began career as a referee in 1899. Died in 1933, in Southend.
Richard Steele: Born 1944. Member of the Marine Corps boxing team from 1962-65 before turning pro in 1966. Retired in 1970 with a 12-4 record with 10 knockouts and became a referee.
Barry Hearn: Born 1948, in London. Founded Matchroom Sport in 1982 and continues to serve as chairman. Has presented hundreds of title bouts for TV. Currently promotes a number of champions including Ricky Burns.
Graham Houston: Born 1942, in Surrey, has been covering boxing since 1963. In 1992 was named American editor for Boxing Monthly, a position he still holds.
Neil Leifer: Born 1942, New York. Freelance photographer for Sports Illustrated from 1960 to 1978. His work includes two of boxing’s most iconic images – Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston in their 1965 rematch and the overhead shot from the rafters of the Houston Astrodome of Ali standing victorious over Cleveland Williams in 1966. Now a full-time filmmaker, producer and director.