Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker elected to boxing hall
Editor's note: ESPN.com boxing writer Dan Rafael is one of the electors in the modern category of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Voters can make up to 10 selections. Rafael cast his votes for Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker and Ricardo Lopez only.
|Hall of Fame Inductees|
Here are brief biographies of some of Thursday's 13 inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.:
Roberto Duran: Born June 16, 1951, El Chorrillo, Panama. Nicknamed "Hands of Stone." Won world titles in four weight divisions over a career spanning five decades. TKO'd Ken Buchanan in 13 rounds for the WBA lightweight championship in 1972. Captured the welterweight title in 1980 with a 15-round decision over Sugar Ray Leonard. Won the WBA junior middleweight crown from Davey Moore with an 8th-round TKO. Defeated Iran Barkley in a 12-round split decision to win the WBC middleweight belt in 1989. Retired in 2001 with a career record of 103-16, 70 KOs.
Pernell Whitaker: Born Jan. 2, 1964 in Norfolk, Va. Was 201-14 with 91 KOs as an amateur. Won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. "Sweet Pea" defeated Greg Haugen for the IBF lightweight title in February 1989. Added the WBC belt later in 1989 and the WBA title in 1990. Also won world titles in three other divisions -- IBF light welterweight (1992), WBC welterweight (1993-97) and WBA light middleweight (1995). Named "Fighter of the Year" in 1989. Retired in 2001, career record 40-4-1, 17 KOs.
Ricardo Lopez: Born July 25, 1966, Tacubaya, Mexico. "Finito" was never defeated in his professional career, finishing with a 51-0-1 record and 38 KOs. Captured the WBC strawweight title in 1990 with a fifth- round TKO over Hideyuki Ohashi, adding the WBO title in 1997, and the WBA title in 1998. Added the IBF light flyweight crown in 1999 with a 12-round decision over Will Grigsby. Retired in 2002.
Pedro Montanez: Born 1914 in Cayey, Puerto Rico. Began boxing in 1931 and captured Puerto Rican lightweight title in 1933. Won a 10-round decision over lightweight champion Lou Ambers, but it was a non-title bout. Met Ambers in a rematch for the title in 1937 and lost a 15-round decision, his first professional defeat. Retired in 1940 with a 92-7-4 record and 54 KOs. Died in 1996.
George Godfrey: Born 1897 in Mobile, Ala. Began boxing in the military and turned pro in 1919. Was Jack Dempsey's sparring partner. Never challenged for a world title but did capture the Mexican and IBU heavyweight titles. Retired in 1937 with a 97-20-3 record and 80 KOs. Died in 1947.
-- Source: The Associated Press
Duran and Whitaker were chosen from the modern era, along with undefeated Mexican strawweight champion Ricardo "Finito" Lopez, who held his world crown for more than a decade with a string of 21 successful defenses.
Artist Leroy Neiman topped the list of old-timers, pioneers, non-participants and observers. Other living inductees who will be enshrined June 10 were Argentine trainer Amilcar Brusa and longtime WBC president Jose Sulaiman.
Honored posthumously were heavyweight George Godfrey, lightweight Pedro Montanez, light heavyweight Kid Norfolk, manager/matchmaker Cuco Conde, newspaper cartoonist TAD Dorgan, and 19th century boxers Young Barney Aaron and Dick Curtis.
All three modern era fighters were chosen in their first year of eligibility following a minimum five-year retirement. Members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians chose the inductees.
Duran, now 55 and a boxing promoter, once declared, "I was born to be champion of the world."
Duran grew up poor in Panama with little education. He started boxing for money and turned professional in 1967 at age 16 and fought until he was 50, finally forced to stop by injuries from a 2001 car accident. Over five decades, "Hands of Stone" Duran compiled a 103-16 record, with 70 knockouts, and won world titles in four divisions: lightweight (1972-1979), welterweight (1980), junior middleweight (1983), and middleweight (1989-1990).
A ferocious but untrained fighter, Duran quickly became a fan favorite as he ran off 21 straight victories as a professional. Mostly a brawler who overwhelmed opponents in his early fights, Duran then came under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Ray Arcel.
"He was a complete fighter," said trainer Angelo Dundee, a 1992 inductee. "He could beat you with strength. He could outsmart you. He did so much, he made it look easy."
Although Duran's opponents included a half-dozen Hall of Famers, his most famous fights were with Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he fought three times in the 1980s.
Duran defeated an unbeaten Leonard in Montreal in June 1980 to claim the WBC welterweight title. He lost to Leonard in a rematch five months later in the infamous "No Mas" fight, in which Duran inexplicably quit before the eighth round. Leonard also won a rubber match in 1989.
Whitaker was a southpaw with a stinging right jab who won more than 200 amateur fights before capturing a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics and turning professional. "Sweet Pea" won the IBF lightweight world championship in 1989 with a 12-round decision over Greg Haugen, and later that year added the WBC belt by beating Jose Luis Ramirez. He unified the championship by taking the WBA title from Juan Nazario in August 1990.
Whitaker, now 42, also captured world titles as IBF junior welterweight champion (1992), WBC welterweight champion (1993-97) and the WBA junior middleweight champion (1995). Whitaker retired in 2001 with a 40-4-1 record, with 17 KOs.
The Mexican-born Lopez was one of the most dominant champions in ring history, finishing with a career record of 51-0-1, with 38 KOs. The only blemish on his record was an eighth-round technical draw against Rosendo Alvarez in March 1998, an outcome he avenged in a rematch eight months later.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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