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It’s Hall of Fame Week in Canastota, Another Week That Could Have Been

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  • It’s Hall of Fame Week in Canastota, Another Week That Could Have Been

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    By Arne K. Lang

    The forecast is for showers on Sunday in Canastota, New York. That’s somewhat redundant.

    More than two months ago, on March 29 to be exact, the townsfolk learned that it was going to rain on their parade. In fact, there would be no parade at all; it was being washed away by the coronavirus. And so, this coming Sunday, June 14, what would have been the grand finale of the International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, a four-day jamboree, will be just another Sunday.

    More than 35 boxing stars from the U.S. and abroad mingled with visitors during the 2019 event, but the real heroes were the volunteers. The locals in this little hamlet in upstate New York where onion-growing was once the leading industry, really get behind the event. High school marching bands from around the area give the parade the sort of oomph that one would expect from a holiday celebration in a much larger community.

    The 2020 IBHOF class is larger than usual because this is the first year for women boxers. Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker are going into the Hall as is female boxing trailblazer Barbara Buttrick. Joining them are modern-era boxers Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Shane Mosley, old-timers Paddy Ryan and Frank Erne who enter the Hall posthumously, promoters Lou DiBella, Kathy Duva, and Dan Goossen, and journalists Thomas Hauser and Bernard Fernandez.

    All of the aforementioned will have to wait until 2021 for their formal enshrinement, a ceremony that may require a second bandstand. The date will be June 13.

    Whatever the sport, a Hall of Fame inevitably engenders arguments. TSS writer Matt Andrzejewski, a Hall of Fame booster – he’s attended every IBHOF weekend since 2014 – has been beating the drum for Vinny Paz. What follows is an abridged version of his line of reasoning.

    VINNY PAZ (50-10, 30 KO’s)

    “Paz — who legally changed his name in 2001 from Vinny Pazienza — was a multi-division world champion and defeated some of the best fighters of his era, e.g., Harry Arroyo, Greg Haugen (twice), Gilbert Dele, Lloyd Honeyghan, and Hall of Famer Roberto Duran (twice).

    Paz’s Hall of Fame credentials are similar those of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini who was inducted into the Hall in 2015. As a matter of fact, Paz’s resume is actually stronger. Paz fought and defeated more former world champions than Mancini and faced much better competition throughout the course of his career.

    But what makes the comparison to Mancini even more appropriate is the fact that both he and Paz were must-watch television. Paz was one of the most entertaining fighters in boxing. And when he fought, people watched — and not just those hooked on boxing.

    By now, we all know his inspirational story (brought to the big screen in the movie Bleed for Me.) But it isn’t that incredibly courageous story that gets him in the Hall of Fame. It’s his resume.”


    The IBHOF voters could not have voted in the following fighters because their names were not even on the ballot. Andrzejewski considers their omissions a big oversight.

    KEVIN KELLEY (60-10-2, 39 KO’s)

    “Kelley is a former featherweight champion and one of the great action fighters of his era. He had many memorable all-out wars including his fights against Troy Dorsey, Ricardo Rivera, Derrick Gainer and Naseem Hamed, just to name a few. There is a fighter with similar credentials from Kelley’s era, Arturo Gatti, who made the Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. Kelley belongs in the Hall and at the very least should be on the ballot for voters to consider.”

    JUNIOR JONES (50-6, 28 KO’s)

    “Jones is a former two-division champion with wins against some of the best fighters of his era. This includes two wins against Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera and a win against another Hall of Famer, Orlando Canizales. His resume also includes wins against former champions Jorge Eliecer Julio, Tom Johnson and Tracy Harris Patterson. All told, Jones was 10-4 against fighters who held a world title at some point in their career.”

    VEERAPHOL SAHAPROM (66-4-2, 46 KO’s)

    “How can this guy not be on the ballot? Just take a look at his credentials. In 1995, in just his fourth pro fight, Sahaprom won a bantamweight title. Though he lost that title in his next fight to the much more seasoned Nana Yaw Konadu, Sahaprom would recapture a bantamweight title against Joichiro Tatsuyoshi a few years later and would hold that title for over six years. Granted, the opposition wasn’t always the best but the long title reign mixed in with some high-quality wins at the very least should have earned Sahaprom a place on the ballot.”


    Andrzejewski notes that unless the voting process is changed, future classes in the modern category will mostly be dominated by first timers. That doesn’t bode well for Vinny Paz’s chances of getting in any time soon. (It’s worth noting in this regard that a candidate can now be voted in after being retired for only three years, rather than five, as was previously the case.)

    We mean no disrespect to the new IBHOF members by reprising these “oversights,” as Andrzejewski would be the first to note. Hall of Weekend in Canastota, he says, should be on the bucket list of every true fan of boxing.

    As fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers used to say, “Wait ‘till next year.”

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    What about Benn, Eubank, Collins, Castro, Maske, Nunn, Ottke, and
    Dariusz Michalczewsk. All should go in before Paz.


    • #3
      And if all that wasn’t enough BS, the local Maine strawberry fest and the local apple pie contest have both been canceled!!! No strawberries, no jam! No apples, no pies! Silence is violence. Maine fests matter. Justice for Floyd Mayweather!! 💰

      (He didn’t really do all that to Miss Jackson!)


      • #4
        I think Paz clearly has the credentials to get elected into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Hopefully some day soon this will happen. Odds may be against him with how the voting process is at this time but this also wouldn't be the first time Paz would have beaten the odds either.

        Many who know me know that I have been beating the drum for Kelley, Jones and Sahaprom for years. At the very least get their names on the ballot...

        And yes this would have been IBHOF weekend. I am very bummed to not be attending this year. Don't know what I am going to do with myself this weekend.


        • Kid Blast
          Kid Blast commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, him too, but not before many of the ones I mentioned,

      • #5
        Watch “Bleed For This” (not Me) again.

        That movie gets better every time I see it. 👍


        • Kid Blast
          Kid Blast commented
          Editing a comment
          It's not bad.

      • #6
        Also very “not bad” are the remakes of RoboCop & Red Dawn.