Floyd Mayweather, Laila Ali, elected to Boxing Hall of Fame

Sports

CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP)Floyd Mayweather, who captured 11 world titles in five weight divisions and retired unbeaten, former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, and Laila Ali have been elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Class of 2021 announced Tuesday also includes former Olympic champion Andre Ward, Ann Wolfe, Marian Trimiar, and Dr. Margaret Goodman. Elected posthumously were: lightweight champion Davey Moore, Jackie Tonawanda, cut man Freddie Brown, manager-trainer Jackie McCoy, journalist George Kimball, and television executive Jay Larkin.

Honorees were selected by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians. Induction day is scheduled for June 13 and also will include last year’s class, which was postponed by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Class of 2020 includes: Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Christy Martin, Lucia Rijker, Barbara Buttrick, Frank Erne, Paddy Ryan, Lou DiBella, Kathy Duva, Dan Goossen, Bernard Fernandez and Thomas Hauser.

Born in 1977 in Grand Rapids, Michigan into a fighting family, Mayweather compiled an 84-6 amateur record that included three National Golden Gloves titles and a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. He turned pro in 1996 and captured his titles in five weight divisions, getting it started with an eighth-round knockout of Genaro Hernandez for the WBC junior lightweight title in just his 18th pro bout.

Trained by his father, Floyd Sr., and uncle Roger, the fighter nicknamed ”Money” retired in 2017 with a record of 50-0 (27 KOs) following a crossover bout and knockout of mixed martial arts star Conor MacGregor.

”It is a great honor for me to be inducted … as a first-ballot nominee,” Mayweather said. ”Throughout my career, I gave everything I could to the sport of boxing, and now, to be recognized by one of the most prestigious honors in the sport for that hard work and dedication is very humbling.”

The 6-foot-6 Klitschko capped a 134-6 (65 KOs) amateur career by winning super heavyweight gold at the 1996 Olympic Games. He turned pro the same year in Germany and won 24 straight bouts before losing to Ross Purrity. He rebounded to defeat Chris Byrd for the WBO heavyweight title and in 2006 stopped Byrd again for the IBF/IBO titles to begin a dominant nine-year title reign that included 18 successful defenses.

Nicknamed ”Dr. Steelhammer,” the native of Kazakhstan was heavyweight champion longer than anyone in history (12 years, 2 days) and finished with a pro record of 64-5 (53 KOs).

Ali also retired unbeaten with a 24-0 record (21 KOs) that included a 2003 win over Christy Martin. The 5-10 Ali used a precise jab and powerful right hand to register an 87.5 knockout percentage, living up to her nickname, ”She Bee Stingin’.”

Tonawanda, who will be enshrined as a Trailblazer, began boxing in the early 1970s and, with sanctioned women’s bouts scarce, spent the majority of her career on the underground female boxing circuit. Denied a professional boxing license from the New York State Athletic Commission in 1974 because of her gender, she filed a sex discrimination suit in 1975 and, after a protracted legal battle that involved lawsuits by other women, the judge ruled in her favor.

Along with Cat Davis and Trimiar, Tonawanda was among the first women granted a license by New York, on Sept. 19, 1978. She was the first female boxer to compete at Madison Square Garden, registering a second-round stoppage of Larry Rodaina in a mixed martial arts bout. The 5-9 Tonawanda, dubbed ”The Female Ali,” also sparred with Muhammad Ali at his training camp and worked as his bodyguard. She died of colon cancer in 2009 at age 75.

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