Yesterday we saw the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) announce their next class of inductees. Those inductees included 3 fighters from the "Modern Category". Those were Donald Curry (34-6, 25), Julian Jackson (55-6, 49) and James "Buddy" McGirt (73-6-1, 48). The selections were pretty widely criticised by fans and left the IBHOF open to the same criticism that many have made in the past, that it's very US centric, with all 3 men having made their names Stateside, with Curry and McGirt being American's and Jackson being from the US Virgin Islands.
The three men all had great careers.
Curry had a reported record of over 400 amateur wins before turning professional in 1980 and fighting through to 1991, before making an ill fated comeback in 1997. During his career he would go on to hold the WBA, IBF and WBC Welterweight titles, and the WBC Light Middleweight title. He would go on to have a 9-5 (7) record in world title fights with notable wins against Marlon Starling (twice), Milton McCrory, Carlos Santos, Lupe Aquino and Gianfranco Rosi. Sadly though he would lose to Lloyd Honeyghan, Mike McCallum, Rene Jacquot, Michael Nunn and Terry Norris, whilst in his prime, and to Emmett Linton in the second bout of his comeback.
Julian Jackson is widely regarded as one of the greatest punchers of all time. The "Hawk" went 10-4 (9) in world title bouts and scored wins against the likes In Chul Baek, Buster Drayton, Terry Norris and Herol Graham, and was a 3-time champion. Sadly for Jackson all 3 of his world title reigns came from winning titles and he would be stopped in all 6 of his career defeats. His career as a professional ran from 1981 through to 1998 and he will always be remembered from his freakish power, that bailed him out famously against Herol Graham. Sadly however losses to Mike McCallum, Gerald McClellan (twice), Quincy Taylor and Verno Phillips leave him looking a little short of elite.
McGirt is now widely regarded as one of the most accomplished trainers in the sport, with a huge list of notable fighters who have had success under his tutelage. As a professional he also had real success, winning 73 of 80 professional bouts. Sadly though many of thos wins were against less than formidable opposition. His professional career began in 1982 and ended in 1997 and saw him claim the IBF Light Welterweight title and the WBC Welterweight title. Sadly however he went 5-3 (2) in world title fights, with his most notable wins as a professional Saoul Mamby, Joe Manley, Simon Brown, Patrizio Oliva, Genaro Léon and Livingstone Bramble. He would however lose to exceptional talents, Pernell Whittaker (twice) and Meldrick Taylor.
Whilst all 3 were fantastic fighters, truly fantastic, none of them seemed as if they were the elite of the elite. Or the fighters that did something exceptional. Instead they seemed like safe choices from a voting panel that are perhaps biased in terms of a pro-American stance, behind showing an over-abundance of fighters of voters from the region. It also seemed to be a very weird class given that all 3 had careers that began and ended in a very similar time period. All began their career between 1980 and 1982, and all retired for good in the late 1990's, though as mentioned Curry really ended his career in 1991 before his late comeback. They also all fought in similar divisions, with all 3 men fighting between Light Welterweight and Middleweight.
Among those on the ballot paper were fighters who had much more distinguished reigns, though weren't from the US or didn't fight much of their career in front of a US audience.
Mexican puncher Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37) who held world titles at Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight, going 9-4 (7) in world title bouts. Marquez would fight from 1998 to 2013, and despite fighting mostly in the US didn't fight in a a glamour division. Instead he made his fights glamourous with wars aplenty, including an infamous 4 fight series with fellow Mexican Israel Vazquez, a series that essentially ended both men's prime. He would hold notable wins over Mark Johnson (twice), Vazquez (twice), Tim Austin, Mauicio Pastrana (twice) and Silence Mabuza (twice). Sadly late career losses to Juan Manuel Lopez, Toshiaki Nishioka, Cristian Mijares and Efrain Esquivias do mark his record up.
Korean punching machine Sung Kil Moon (20-2, 15), who only fought professionally between 1987 and 1993 yet compiled a 13-2 (8) in world title fights, scoring wins against Khaokor Galaxy, Nana Konadu (twice), Gilberto Roman, Greg Richardson, Hilario Zapata and Carlos Gabriel Salazar. Moon was one of the many Korean stars of the late 1990's and rose the attention for boxing in Korea, even from those outside of Korea, due to his all action style and ferocity. His losses, to Khaokor Galaxy in 1989 and to Jose Luis Bueno in 1993, were both by decision. During his career he first won the WBA Bantamweight title before taking the WBC Super Flyweight title, making him one of the very few fighters to drop in weight to win multiple weight title titles. Notably only one of Moon's fights was outside of Asia, a 1991 TKO win over Nana Yaw Konadu.
Mexican Technichian Gilberto Roman (54-6-1, 35), who went 12-3-1 in world title fights and was a 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion. His career saw him defeat the likes of Antonio Avelar, Jiro Watanabe, Frank Cedeno, Sugar Baby Rojas (twice), Kiyoshi Hatanaka, and Santos Benigno Laciar. Unlike most Roman was very well travelled, winning the title in Japan and defending it in France, Argentina, Thailand and then going on to regain it in the US, before losing his final bout to the previous mentioned Moon. His career ran from 1981 to 1990, before he died in an automobile accident at the age of 28.
Japanese based Russian destroyer Yuri Arbachakov (23-1, 16). The fearsome Flyweight was one of the first group of group of Russian and Central European fighters to turn professional, doing so in 1990 when he signed with Kyoei in Japan, who took on a number of other top fighters from the region. His career would end in 1997 but during his 24 fights he would go 10-1 (5) in world title fights, beating the likes of Muangchai Kittikasem (twice), Hugo Rafael Soto and Chatchai Sasakul. His impact is being felt today with his success being part of the rise of the Soviet fighters in the professional ranks, and his reign as the WBC Flyweight champion was also as the Linear champion.
Whilst the fighters I've mentioned are certainly not the only choices one could have selected from the ballot, and aren't necessarily the best choices anyway, they do show there was options to pick outside of the Light Welterweight to Middleweight to Middleweight bracket and the US rationality. I do find it very odd that all 3 men have so many similarities, with weight, era and the US bases for all 3 fighters, and whilst all 3 inductees were very good, none were truly outstanding as professionals.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).