Tuesday December 7th, 2010

The International Boxing Hall of Fame will announce its 2011 inductees Tuesday at noon. As a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, I cast my first Hall of Fame ballot in November. Here's what it looked like:

Julio Cesar Chavez: The biggest no-brainer on the ballot. A three-division champion, Chavez is the greatest fighter in Mexico's rich boxing history, a living legend who won 115 fights over a 25-year career and whose career was defined by scintillating wins over Meldrick Taylor and Hector Camacho. My favorite Chavez fight was against Greg Haugen. Haugen hyped the fight by claiming most of Chavez's wins came against "Tijuana taxi drivers," to which Chavez responded by saying he was going to give Haugen the worst beating of his life. And he did, in front of 130,000 fans in Mexico City.

Mike Tyson: Iron Mike's check mark was right behind Chavez's. Say what you want about Tyson -- and over the years his behavior has been despicable -- but his heavyweight reign in the 1980s was electrifying. Tyson was must-see TV and his destructions of Trevor Berbick and Michael Spinks probably dissuaded a few would-be heavyweights from getting into boxing. We will never really know how great Tyson could have been -- his incarceration for rape from 1992-95 and subsequent bizarre behavior saw to that -- but his dominance in the '80s earns him this spot.

Kostya Tszyu: This was another easy one. Tszyu was one of the greatest junior welterweights in history. He owned the 140-pound division from 1999-2005 and made multiple notable title defenses. His second-round knockout of Zab Judah is a YouTube favorite and he won physical fights with Chavez, Sharmba Mitchell and Ben Tackie.

Wilfredo Vazquez: Another three-division champion -- not to mention one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters of all time -- Vazquez shined when the spotlight was brightest: in 21 career title fights, Vazquez was 16-3-2. He was never afraid to fight in someone's backyard and was dubbed El Viajero ("The Traveler") for his willingness to fight outside Puerto Rico. In 1996. he scored a stunning victory over featherweight champion Eloy Rojas, when he rallied to drop Rojas twice in the 12th round to win by TKO.

Ken Overlin: Overlin was a warrior. According to boxrec.com, Overlin fought 163 fights as a professional, winning 135 of them. And that was with the two-year break Overlin took to serve his country in World War II. The names Overlin beat in his day aren't household today, but his wars with Ezzard Charles and Al Hostak were big news in the '40s. Overlin never shied away from a fight and his resume is littered with Hall of Fame-caliber fighters.

Pone Kingpetch: Great name, huh? Kingpetch was born Mana Seadoagbob but adopted Pone (which signifies the flight of an eagle) and Kingpetch (derived from a camp where he trained in his native Thailand). Kingpetch was a pioneer, the first great champion to come out of Thailand and one of the very first to emerge from Asia. Light handed, Kingpetch was a stylist whose best attributes were his jab, footwork and agility. Kingpetch was an inspiration to Thai fighters -- there is a statue in his honor in his hometown -- and a true legend in his time.

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