Three Warriors get the Call to Boxing Hall of Fame
By: Matthew N. Becher
Yesterday afternoon it was announced that 3 fighters would be inducted into next year’s class of the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. It was a very fitting class, since the three boxers were all known for being true warriors to the sport. Evander Holyfield, Marco Antonio Barrera and Johnny Tapia would be fitting to lead any class alone, but together, they make up one of the most “Tough as Nails” groups that you could put together.
Marco Antonio Barrera (67-7 44KO): The “Baby Faced Assassin” is and forever will be one of the greatest fighters to come out of the country of Mexico. Barrera was a three division world champion winning his first title against Daniel Jimenez in 1995. He would rule the super bantamweight division for most of the next decade, which included his most famous fight, against Erik Morales in 2000 to unify the division. Barrera loss the first of three to Morales, which became one of the greatest trilogies in boxing history and would solidify him as one of boxing’s toughest. He was also the man to snatch away the “0” from Prince Naseem Hamed, a fight that stunned the world, but not the fans that follow the sport closely. The flashy Hamed fought once more after he took the beating from Barrera then retired. Barrera went on to beat fellow Hall of Famer Johnny Tapia in 2002 and was knocked out for the only time of his career against the great Manny Pacquiao. Barrera has come a long way from the 15 year old who turned pro in 1989 to one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever.
Johnny Tapia (59-5-2 30KO): Nothing written can do justice to the life that “Mi Vida Loca”, Johnny Tapia’s story tells. Born into extreme Poverty in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1967. The most poignant of ways to describe Johnny’s life can be taken from a passage in his Autobiography, Mi Vida Loca: The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia, Tapia wrote: “My name is Johnny Lee Tapia. I was born on Friday the 13th. A Friday in February of 1967. To this day I don’t know if that makes me lucky or unlucky. When I was eight I saw my mother murdered. I never knew my father. He was murdered before I was born. I was raised as a pit bull.
Raised to fight to the death. Four times I was declared dead. Four times they wanted to pull life support. And many more times I came close to dying. But I have lived and had it all. I have been wealthy and lost it all. I have been famous and infamous. Five times I was world champion. You tell me. Am I lucky or unlucky?”
Tapia came from a struggle that no person should ever have to, and he used his fists as a way of expressing his anger and hate. He was never the most beautiful of fighter, but he was tougher than anyone you would ever want to face.
He was a fan favourite and multiple world champion. Unfortunately Tapia faced many out of the ring problems with drugs and criminal charges. Unfortunate to all, this Induction will be done posthumously as Johnny Tapia died in May of 2012 of Heart Failure, he was 45.
Evander Holyfield (44-10-2 29KO): Many thought this day would never come, since Holyfield just wouldn’t stop fighting. Eventually he hung up the gloves in 2011 after Knocking out Brian Nielsen in Denmark. “The Real Deal” is one of the biggest names of his era. Holyfield was a member of the famed 1984 US Boxing team, where he won the Bronze medal (though he was unjustly disqualified in a controversial call). Holyfield then turned pro that same year and became the WBA World Cruiserweight champ in only his 12th fight, against Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
Holyfield would go on to become the Unified WBC/WBA/IBF Cruiserweight champ by 1988 before announcing he would move up to the Heavyweight division. Many thought that Holyfield, as good as he was, stood no shot against the bigger men, but he ran through the gauntlet of fighters and in two years became the Lineal, Undisputed Heavyweight champion in 1990 by knocking out James “Buster” Douglas. He would defend his titles against George Foreman, Bert Cooper, & Larry Holmes until engaging in one of his three thrilling fights against his rival Riddick Bowe. Bowe would win the first and third fights, but Holyfield took the second, leaving the only blemish on Bowes near perfect record. Holyfield was not finished there, as he then would go on to win the Heavyweight title against Mike Tyson in 1996 and defeat Tyson again in 1997, in a fight in which Tyson would bite part of Holyfield’s ear clean off.
Holyfield was a Heavyweight champion on four different occasions, Fighter of the year 3 times, ranked as the greatest Cruiserweight of all time and one of the top ten heavyweights ever. The man is a living legend and a true warrior of the sport.