Star-studded trio likely to get elected
The 2014 International Boxing Hall of Fame class is likely to be one of the most star-studded in years with the three newcomers to the ballot -- multi-divisional world champions Oscar De La Hoya, Felix "Tito" Trinidad and Joe Calzaghe -- all figuring to be elected in their first year of eligibility.
Full members of the Boxing Writers Association of America began receiving their 45-man ballots this week to vote in the Hall of Fame's 25th annual elections.
Ballots are due back to the Hall of Fame by Oct. 31. Results will be announced before the end of the year with the annual induction ceremony at the Canastota, N.Y., shrine just outside of Syracuse scheduled for June 8. To be eligible, fighters must not have fought for at least five years.
Rivals De La Hoya and Trinidad were both undefeated champions in their prime when they met in a 1999 welterweight unification fight in Las Vegas that resulted in a highly controversial majority decision win for Trinidad and 1.4 million pay-per-view buys, which was a record at the time for the biggest selling non-heavyweight pay-per-view fight.
But De La Hoya and Trinidad were about more than just their showdown. Both were extraordinarily decorated and popular champions among the elite fighters of their time.
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De La Hoya -- "The Golden Boy" -- a 1992 U.S. Olympic gold medalist from East Los Angeles, became one of the biggest stars the sport has ever known and the face of boxing for many years. His fights were the biggest in the sport as he won 10 world titles and became the first fighter in boxing history to win belts in six different weight divisions, a record since broken by eight-division title winner Manny Pacquiao.
De La Hoya, a Mexican-American, was also a heavyweight when it came to selling pay-per-view as fans of all kinds, including women and a passionate Hispanic fan base, flocked to his fights. His 2007 junior middleweight championship fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. set numerous all-time revenue records, including selling nearly 2.5 million pay-per-view subscriptions, currenlty the record.
De La Hoya won world titles at 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 and 160 pounds -- junior lightweight to middleweight -- during his 1992 to 2008 career. Among the many stars De La Hoya faced were Hall of Famers Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (twice), Pernell Whitaker and Arturo Gatti, as well as Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao, Ike Quartey, Shane Mosley (twice), Fernando Vargas, Hector Camacho Sr. and Genaro Hernandez.
De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) retired after his knockout loss to Pacquiao in December 2008. While De La Hoya has struggled with substance-abuse issues -- he went for a second stint in rehab last month and is still there -- he also founded Golden Boy Promotions, which has become one of the leading promotional companies in the world.
"I'm very happy for him, it's well deserved that he is on the ballot," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, De La Hoya's close friend and business partner, told ESPN.com. "He really made boxing headline news during the time he was fighting. He had crossover appeal and whenever he fought it was front-page news. He really carried the pay-per-view business for many, many years and retired as one of the most popular fighters of all time. It's only a reflection of achievements that he is being considered for the boxing Hall of Fame."
Trinidad (42-3, 35 KOs) is arguably the most popular fighter in Puerto Rican history. He won five world titles in three weight classes, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight, and thrilled fans with electrifying punching power throughout his 1990 to 2008 career, which included two retirements before he walked away for good following a decision loss to Roy Jones Jr. in a meeting of two superstars well past their prime.
Besides Jones and De La Hoya, Trinidad also faced such stars as Hopkins, Vargas, Whitaker, Camacho Sr. and Winky Wright.
At one point, Trinidad defeated three United States Olympic gold medal winners in a four-fight span: Whitaker, De La Hoya and David Reid.
Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs), widely regarded as the best fighter to ever come out of Wales, is the rare fighter who retired undefeated after a 1993 to 2008 career in which he unified super middleweight titles and won the lineal light heavyweight championship.
He won a vacant super middleweight world title by decision against British great Chris Eubank in 1997 and defended the belt 21 times, including unifying titles by beating Jeff Lacy in 2006 and Mikkel Kessler in 2007 in one of the biggest 168-pound fights in history.
After beating Kessler, Calzaghe came to the United States and outpointed Hopkins to win the lineal light heavyweight championship. He made one defense, easily outpointing Jones and then retiring despite big money offers for other bouts.
Holdovers on the ballot include former featherweight champion "Prince" Naseem Hamed, former welterweight champion Donald Curry, former super middleweight titlist Sven Ottke and Wilfredo Vazquez Sr., who won world titles in three weight classes -- bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight.
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