Mike Tyson on HOF ballot for 1st time
Former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and all-time great Mexican icon Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. are among three fighters on the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.
Joining them in their first year of eligibility is former undisputed junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu of Australia.
Full members of the Boxing Writers Association of America began receiving ballots Monday. They are due back to the Hall of Fame by Nov. 1. Results of the balloting will be announced on Dec. 7 with the annual induction ceremony at the Canastota, N.Y, shrine scheduled for June 12. Fighters must be retired for five years before they become eligible for election.
The trio of Tyson, Chavez and Tszyu, all popular fighters around the world, being on the ballot for the first time gives the Hall of Fame the potential for a star-studded class.
"Like in any sport, there are various years where some names are more popular than in other years, but we look at each inductee equal to each other for their achievements in the ring," Ed Brophy, the executive director of the Hall, said. "The 2011 ballot has some high-profile names on it, which generates a lot of interest and excitement with boxing fans."
Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs), one of the most famous and feared fighters in history, was just 20 when he knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round in 1986 to become the youngest heavyweight champion ever. Tyson made nine defenses, including unifying the three major titles, during his four-year reign of destruction.
He knocked out former champion Larry Holmes in 1988 and blew away Michael Spinks, unbeaten at the time and owner of the lineal title, in a memorable 91-second demolition in 1988. At the time, it was the biggest money fight in boxing history. Tyson was dethroned by Buster Douglas, who knocked him out in a shocking 1990 upset.
Tyson would later go to prison on a rape conviction, but eventually won two more belts in 1996, knocking out Frank Bruno in the third round and Bruce Seldon in the first round before losing back-to-back fights to Evander Holyfield in fights that set box office records.
Chavez (107-6-2, 86 KOs), regarded by many as the best fighter in Mexico's rich boxing history, was a three-division champion and long reigned atop of the pound-for-pound list. He claimed titles at junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight in a career that spanned 25 years, from 1980 to 2005.
Chavez won his first title, the WBC junior lightweight belt, in 1984, stopping Mario Martinez in the eighth round, and made nine defenses. In 1987, he stopped Edwin Rosario in the 11th round to win the WBA version of the lightweight title and eventually unified belts by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez via 11th-round technical decision in 1988. In his next fight, Chavez stopped Roger Mayweather in the 10th round to claim WBC junior welterweight title.
Chavez's third defense of that title was perhaps his most memorable fight. He met Meldrick Taylor in the 140-pound unification fight in Las Vegas in 1990 and was trailing on all three scorecards entering the 12th and final round. But Chavez rallied to drop Taylor, and referee Richard Steele, in one of the most controversial calls in boxing history, stopped the fight with two seconds left. The fight was later named fight of the year by Ring magazine.
Chavez reigned until Oscar De La Hoya dethroned him in 1996.
Tszyu (31-2, 25 KOs), who was born in Russia but moved to Australia after his standout amateur career, had two junior welterweight title reigns during his 13-year professional career. He stopped Jake Rodriguez in the sixth round in 1995 to claim the IBF 140-pound title and defended it five times until suffering an upset knockout loss to Vince Phillips.
But Tszyu's second title reign is where he made his mark as he collected three major titles to become undisputed champion. He stopped Miguel Angel Gonzalez in the 10th round to claim a vacant belt in 1999 and made eight dominant defenses, including stopping an aging Chavez. Tszyu also scored knockouts against Sharmba Mitchell and Zab Judah in title unification bouts to become undisputed champion.
Tszyu eventually was stopped by Ricky Hatton in the 11th round of their 2005 showdown, and although Tszyu never announced his retirement, he has not fought since.
The rest of the field on the 45-man ballot are holdovers from previous years, including former featherweight champion "Prince" Naseem Hamed, former welterweight champ Donald Curry, former super middleweight titlist Sven Ottke and former three-division titlist Wilfredo Vazquez.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.