With tears in his eyes at a banquet on the eve of his big day, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday, showing only a hint of emotion in his voice as he accepted the recognition.
“I’ve done a lot in my career, but this is by far the best,” said Mayweather, who credited his mother, father and sister for much of his success. “I want to thank the International Boxing Hall of Fame for giving me this. This goes out to my dad because he deserves it. Bernard Hopkins said it best, ‘You have to earn it,’ and my father earned this ring.
“I want to thank everyone for their support. I want to say to all the fighters: Thank you, you are extraordinary. It wouldn’t have happened without you guys.”
Mayweather, who retired undefeated in 50 fights, led the three generations that were inducted on Sunday. The pandemic forced the postponement of the previous two ceremonies, making the 2022 one overcrowded. The ceremony moved from the venue’s location in Canastota, New York, to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in nearby Verona in order to accommodate the 36 honorees.
Roy Jones Jr., Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, James Toney and champions Regina Halmich and Holly Holm were part of this year’s class. The 2020 featured multi-division champions Hopkins, Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez, and “Sugar” Shane Mosley. The 2021 included Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko and Andre Ward.
Also among the honorees were the first female boxers to be recognized: Christy Martin, Laila Ali, Lucia Rijker, Regina Halmich and Holly Holm. Martin’s rise to fame came when he was on some Mike Tyson fight cards in the 1990s. His enthronement came on his 54th birthday.
For Laila Ali, it marked a return to where she started her career — against the advice of her famous father. She won her first match in October 1999 against April Fowler at Turning Stone.
“He told me not to do it. I had to earn her respect in the ring,” said Laila, who retired undefeated after 24 fights.
All but one of the 27 inducted boxers were present at the ceremony. The absentee was former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. He is in the Ukraine helping his brother Vitali—who by his account is already a Hall of Famer and is now mayor of kyiv, the Ukrainian capital—during the ongoing war against the Russian invasion. (AP)