Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tyson, Chavez headline Boxing Hall of Fame inductees

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez headline the 2011 class for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

The two stars will be joined by junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, referee Joe Cortez, trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone.

"We're extremely excited about the Class of 2011 and very much looking forward to honoring the 22nd class of inductees," said Executive Director Edward Brophy.

Tyson was the central figure of the sport in the late 1980s with his historic rise to the top of the heavyweight ranks as youngest champion in 1986 and his inglorious fall that included a jail sentence. He had a record of 50-6 with 44 knockouts and was known for his ferocity in the ring.

"I am honored to be nominated in the International Boxing Hall of Fame," said Tyson. "The sport of boxing has given me so much and it is truly a blessing to be acknowledged alongside other historical boxing legends because they paved the way for me as I hope I have inspired others in this great sport."

Tyson was among the most-feared fighters on his way to the top, highlighted by an incredible knockout of Michael Spinks just 91 seconds into a June 27, 1988 bout in Atlantic City. His downfall began with his first loss -- a February 11, 1990 knockout by James "Buster" Douglas in Tokyo. Another lowlight of his storied career was a June 28, 1997 fight against Evander Holyfield, during which Tyson was disqualified for twice biting Holyfield's ears.

Chavez held featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight titles during a career that included 107 wins over 115 fights. A national hero in Mexico, Chavez compiled a record of 89-0-1 before a loss to Frankie Randall in 1994.

"I am honored and I feel humble," said Chavez. "At this moment in my life, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is very special. I feel great to know that my name will be inscribed with the best of the best, to join some of my heroes and to leave a mark for my family and my country."

Tszyu, a Russian native who moved to Australia, was junior welterweight champ with a record of 31-2 with 25 knockouts. He became the unified champ with a second-round TKO of Zab Judah in 2001.

"This is unbelievably great news!" exclaimed Tszyu. "I'm actually speechless. I can't describe my feelings. My job was to make sure the people enjoyed themselves when they were watching me and I spent all my life doing so. I still continue to be involved in boxing to this day because boxing has been so great to me. To be inducted next to Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and Jeff Fenech, who's a good friend of mine, is a huge, huge honor."

Cortez had an 18-1 record before retiring in 1971 and became a referee. He worked his first title bout in 1982 and refereed more than 160 title fights, including Tyson vs. Holmes and Bowe vs. Holyfield I.

Beristain trained Mexico's boxing teams at the 1968, 1976 and 1980 Olympics, and guided 18 champions in the pro ranks, including Hall of Famers Ricardo "Finito" Lopez, Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez and Daniel Zarazoga.

Stallone is best known for the "Rocky" series of movies, including the original that won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976.

The 22nd annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for June 12 in Canastota, New York.

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