And as HOF inductions always do, Tuesdays announcement provoked plenty of passionate discussion about who deserved the call, who didn't and why.
First, we can all agree that Julio Cesar Chavez deserved the nod.
Did he pound his share of cab drivers and plumbers during the 87-fight win streak that opened his career?
And shouldn't that 88th fight, a 12-round "draw" against Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, really have been JCC's first loss?
But on the way to Whitaker, Chavez dominated stars between 130 and 140 pounds, steamrolling stylists, technicians and tough guys alike. Granted, he had to rally to reel in Meldrick Taylor in their March 1990 unification bout, securing a knockout with just two seconds remaining in the bout. But the point is he pulled it off, as a future HOF in his prime should, and he's one inductee that generated no arguments from anyone.
Mike Tyson, though, is another story.
Without even discussing his in-ring credentials Iron Mike's inclusion raises the question of whether a convicted rapist and two-time ear-biter deserves as spot in boxing's most hallowed place. And you could also argue -- correctly -- that though Tyson fought until 2005 he peaked in June 1988, or about two weeks after Michael Cera was born. And there's not much point in arguing that for the final decade of his career the former "Baddest Man on the Planet" devolved from champion to sideshow to freak show.
We all watched it happen.
Still, Tyson's 15-year slide into boxing "Bolivian" doesn't dim his incandescent early career.
From the time he turned pro until his 91-second demolition on Michael Spinks, Tyson displayed a mixture of power and speed never before seen among heavyweights, and rode a string of spectacular knockouts to the world title before he turned 21.
Tyson beat so many heavyweights so thoroughly in his career's first four years that for the next decade people barely noticed his slowly eroding skills.
But even a past-his-prime Tyson remained a celebrity during an era when boxing was fading from the mainstream because he did everything big. He won big, lost bigger and when he lost it, he lost it all the way.
So whether you like him as a human being (most of us probably wouldn't) or think he would never have beaten a prime Muhammad Ali (Ali makes him quit like Liston did....hypothetically), you have to remember that this isn't a hall of virtue. It's a hall of fame, and no fighter since Ali has brought more fame to the boxing game than Tyson did.
And since we're talking fame, can I ask every one of you to calm down over the induction of Sylvester Stallone as an "Observer"?
If the Hall had inducted Mr. T I'd see your point.
Check this list of guys already in the Hall as Observers and ask yourself what most of them have in common.
If you haven't figured it out I'll tell you.
Most of the guys on that list are there because they spent large parts of their careers telling stories about boxing.
Anybody here remember why Stallone became famous in the first place?
He told a compelling story about boxing, won an Oscar for it and used the film as the foundation of a film career that, incredibly, continues today.
No, Stallone isn't to screenwriting what W.C. Heinz was to prose (and if you've never read The Professional you need to....like yesterday), and yes the Rocky franchise grew more far-fetched with each successive film.
Tommy Morrison leaving the arena after a title defense to brawl with Rocky in a Philadelphia gutter?
Of course not.
But if you're over 30 years old and can't quote a single line from Rocky IV I've got questions about how you spent your youth. If you're flipping through channels and come across James Brown singing "Living in America" while Apollo Creed shimmies toward his fate at Drago's and don't drop the remote and watch the rest of the movie I question how you spend your idle time.
And if these scenes don't compel you to bang out a few pushups you just might have an artificial heart.
How much does climbing a mountain while wearing right jeans and a sheepskin coat have to do with actual boxing?
Not a damn thing.
But that whole inspiring sequence (I'm shadowboxing between sentences here) is part of a six-film franchise Stallone built around the sweet science.
That's about 5.5 more boxing features than most filmmakers produce, and in the world of "Observers" its more than enough to qualify him for Canastota.
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