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Deck the Hall: 2019 boxing inductees revealed

Author Simon Ruvalcaba is down but not out in his final pro fight.

I was in a different state of mind lying on the canvas when I came to my senses and heard “Six!” It was Aug. 10, 2013 at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. Light heavyweight Alexander Johnson decked me with an uppercut. That was the closest I came to ever suffering a “KO” defeat.

I struggled to my feet, using the ropes as leverage, and I survived the round. But 38 seconds into the next round, the referee waved off the fight with me on my feet. Suffering a “TKO” defeat was a small but prideful consolation for me in what turned out to be my last time stepping into the ring for competition. That was 25 years to the day that I first walked in to Ted Walker’s Carson City gym.

I bring it up because of the boxing buzz surrounding last weekend’s heavyweight title draw between WBC Champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. In the view of most, Fury deserved the decision despite having been dropped to the canvas twice in the bout, including a vicious knockdown in the final round that has made Fury a folkloric hero for the way he got up despite appearing out of it.

Fury also beat the count of 10, but many Wilder supporters across social media point out the actual time clock of the round showing that more than 12 seconds had elapsed. Throughout boxing history this has been questioned. On Feb. 10, 1990, when Buster Douglas pulled off the biggest upset in boxing history as a 42-1 underdog against Mike Tyson, the aftermath saw a protest from the Tyson camp as Mike had dropped Douglas in Round 8. Buster beat the count of the referee and 14 actual seconds had gone by.

When South Lake Tahoe kickboxing champion Juan Torres worked his way up the pro boxing ranks, he faced a young and undefeated Zab Judah, who decked Torres in the first round. Torres came to his senses late in that one and rose up as the ref said “10” and halted the bout.

Fighters are told to beat the count — the count of the referee. There’s not a rule that you have to get up in 10 “actual” seconds, otherwise fighters would not be aware of when to get up or where they are at with the count. It is a strategy by many professionals to stay on one knee for eight seconds to get their senses and vision straight.

When Sonny Liston was floored by Muhammad Ali in their 1965 rematch, Ali was acting so crazy that referee Jersey Joe Walcott spent the time getting Ali to the neutral corner before he could start the count. A confused Walcott (a former heavyweight champ) counted to eight and let the action continue only to be alerted by the time keeper that Liston had been down for more than 10 seconds. Walcott stepped in as action had resumed and waved the fight off. Since then, it has been more clear with the commissions that the count — and whether or not the fighter beat the count — is the judgment of the referee and not the time keeper.

A few other debates have started, such as how to eliminate draws? In boxing, draws are a part of the sport. With a draw, a lucrative and marketable rematch can be in the works. And that often brings skepticism. Some have suggested is that if the fight is a draw the boxers should fight an overtime round to settle it? That would be asking athletes to leave it all in the ring during 12 rounds, and then go back and fight one more. To me, the bout should go to the loser of the overtime round since the one who pulls out the round would have some energy that he or she should have used in the actual bout. That’s much like watching a horse race where a horse at the very end of the stretch is making a move and falls short.  The way I see it, that horse held back too long. It’s unfortunate to be debating the count or the scoring and taking away from the fact that it was one of the more exciting heavyweight title fights we have seen in the last 25 years, bringing excitement back to boxing’s richest division.

Lee Samuel

Lee Samuels employed a one-two combination of class and charm to earn the title of International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.

International Boxing Hall of Fame’s class of 2019

The International Boxing Hall of Fame’s 2019 inductees were revealed on Wednesday. Here’s a look:

Modern Era Inductees

Donald “Lone Star Cobra” Curry:  Finally, after 15 years on the ballot! He was a welterweight with a career record of 34-6 (25 KOs). I think he was hurt by not meeting extremely high career expectations. Media and public projected him to be a $10 million fighter in the 1980s, which today would be like a $100 million fighter. He became a $2 or $3 million fighter, but his talents amateur and professional certainly are Hall of Fame worthy. He held all the major titles in the welterweight division,. I.B.F., W.B.C. and W.B.A.

James “Buddy” McGirt:  An old-school professional, two-time welterweight champion with record of 73-6-1 (48). He was a smart boxer with tricks of the trade and a throwback fighter for his time. It’s also a case of perseverance as the victim of the politics of boxing. When his first reign as champion ended in 1988 at the hands of Meldrick Taylor, it took Buddy 17 bouts to get another shot at a world title and he took full advantage when he dethroned Simon Brown. Lost belts to Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker as shoulder injuries hampered him late in his career. 

Julian “The Hawk” Jackson: Light middleweight and middleweight champion with a record of 55-6 (49). He may be the surprise inductee of the year. He is one of the all time hardest punchers nonetheless, and his YouTube knockout highlights have earned him a millennial fan base for those that see the dynamic power. Quiet, soft spoken outside of the ring, he would transform into a beast inside of the ropes.

Old Timers

“Boston Bomber” Tony DeMarco: Welterweight champion with a record of 58-12-1 (33). He was a very popular New England fighter who had wars with Gasper Ortega and Virgil Atkins.

Non-participants inductees

Don Elbaum, promoter/matchmaker: He promoted more than 1,000 shows and worked with the likes of Willie Pep, Sugar Ray Robinson and Aaron Pryor.

Lee Samuels, publicist: The Top Rank Promotions publicist is a well deserved inductee. On a personal note, thanks for always taking car of me at Top Rank events! He is one of boxing’s hardest workers and a real class act.

Observers inductees

Teddy Atlas, broadcaster: Atlas wasMike Tyson’s first trainer who should also be honored as a trainer. As a broadcaster he has not been shy about exposing the corrupt side of the sport or to just give his honest opinion from someone that has been in the sport for more than 40 years.

Mario Rivera, writer: The longtime Puerto Rican journalist received a posthumous honor.

Guy Jutras, judge: Jutras had a five-bout career before becoming a judge. The Canadian official also was an inspector and supervisor of events.

Notables who didn’t get in

Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton: I suspect his time is coming. He has only been on the ballot for two years.

Chris John: With a career record of 48-1-3 (22), the Indonesian fighter was a longtime featherweight champion. Among his victories was a unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez. He didn’t fight much outside of his home country, but he was a master boxer. Perhaps the lack of exposure through his career is holding up his Hall of Fame honor.

Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez: The junior lightweight champion had a record of 38-2-1 (17).  A pure master boxer from South Central Los Angeles, his only losses were to Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. The honor, when it happens, will be posthumous as cancer took his life too soon. His brother Rudy is one of the best trainers/cutmen in boxing and MMA today.

Ivan Calderon: ThePuerto Rican was a 105 pound technician with a career record of 35-3-1 (6). There seems to be a theme as I don’t know if the lack of knockout artistry is keeping a certain few from the Hall of Fame. Every round that he showed his Picasso-like boxing skills was a site to admire.

Wilfredo Vasquez: With a record of 56-9-2 (41), the junior featherweight and featherweight champion took on all comers. He is definitely deserving of Hall of Fame honors someday.

Praying for Adonis Stevenson’s recovery

In other action on Saturday from Canada, the five-year reign of light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson came to an end when he lost his title via 11th round knockout at the hands of rising phenom Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Stevenson left the ring under his own power, but later collapsed. He was taken to a Quebec Hospital, where he recently was upgraded from critical to stable condition. He remains in a medically induced coma.

Stevenson, who turned his street-tough life around, doesn’t deserve many of the comments from the blogs. What is shameful is the lack of sympathy by many of the fans. No one should wish such an injury or claim that anyone “deserves” it. For those who enter the ring, it is a reality that they may not be the same after a competition. A motivation inside of the ring often is the battles fighters face outside the sport as they seek a better way of life.

Overall, it has been a great year for boxing and MMA, with plenty to look forward to in 2019. Watch out for my New Year’s resolutions for the combat sport industry in the next Jabs and Hooks. Have a great holiday season and New Year!

— Simon Ruvalcaba

About Simon Ruvalcaba

Simon Ruvalcaba is a former professional boxer born and bred in South Lake Tahoe. Ruvalcaba was a member of the U.S. Army boxing team and had a 54-17 record as an amateur. He had an 18-fight pro career that was hampered by a shoulder injury he sustained in a 2003 bout at Caesars Tahoe. His final fight was in 2013. He is a sales associate living in Reno. He is editor of Punchline.live and also contributes to fighthype.com and pound4pound.com

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