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Ballot For 2012 Hall Of Fame Out Now: Names Eligible For Votes Include Tommy Hearns, Naseem Hamed, Don Curry

By James Slater: Top writer Dan Rafael of ESPN.com fame has revealed via his Twitter page the 45 names that are eligible to be voted for RE: the 2012 Hall Of Fame in Canastota. Looking at the page of names that all well respected boxing writers will now be analysing and deciding who to vote for (Rafael reports how ten names can be chosen by any one writer, with their choices due back by the end of this month), it’s clear 2012 will welcome some great and hugely popular fighters into The Hall.

Among those stars who can now be voted for are: Thomas Hearns, Naseem Hamed, Don Curry, Dariusz Michalczewski, Tommy Farr, Mark Johnson, Miguel “Happy” Lora, Joey Archer, Freddie Mills, Wilfredo Vazquez, Sven Ottke and Myung-Woo Yuh.

British interest will be high next year then, what with former world light-heavyweight title challenger Mills, former world heavyweight title challenger Farr and modern day featherweight star Naseem Hamed being eligible for a spot in The Hall. While the inclusion of Hearns’s name is likely to please fans from all corners of the globe (not least myself, seeing as how the legendary “Hitman” is my favourite fighter of all-time).

There could, though, be the usual debate as to whether or not certain fighters are actually deserving of being on the list, much less voted in. Hearns is a lock, on that every sane person will agree. But what about “Naz?” Does he belong? What about Curry, Ottke and Michalczewski?

These four names are amongst those I have questioned and wondered, are they truly deserving? Hamed, after all, lost the biggest fight of his career (to Marco Antonio Barrera) and then all but vanished from the sport. Hamed was a truly exciting fighter, but his biggest wins came against naturally smaller men in Wayne McCullough and Vuyani Bungu, and fighters who had seen their best days pass in Kevin Kelley, Tom Johnson and fellow HOF candidate Wilfredo Vazquez. To me, “Naz” was very good, maybe even great - but not an all-time great. The Sheffield lefty will almost certainly receive enough votes to get in, however, but some will say he is not quite worthy.

Ottke’s name is sure to raise some eyebrows. Many of the unbeaten super-middleweight’s wins were of a controversial nature, with a number of the German’s points wins being debated to this day. In terms of length of reign (Oct. 1998 to March of 03) Ottke clearly made his mark on the sport. But did the crafty operator really defeat Charles Brewer, Glen Johnson, Robin Reid and Byron Mitchell? To some, these decisions in favour of Ottke deserve to be listed amongst the worst robberies in modern day boxing. Again, if Ottke gets in, some frowns will be formed.

When it comes to Curry and Michalczewski, deciding whether or not to cast a yes vote may prove tricky. Michalczewski, like Ottke, had an incredibly long reign - from Sept. of 1994 to Oct. of 2003 - and he did beat some good names during that time. But, also like Ottke, he fought almost exclusively in Germany (with one fight in Portugal and one in Dariusz’ native Poland) and fights with the elite (such as Roy Jones) failed, for whatever reason, to materialise. Will these factors go against Michalczewski?

Curry was an excellent welterweight champion from 1983 to 1986, with wins coming against fine fighters like Milton McCrory and Marlon Starling (twice); but he lost to Lloyd Honeyghan and was never the same again. Further stoppage losses came at the hands of Mike McCallum, Michael Nunn and Terry Norris (though Curry was past his best by then) - do the crushing lows Curry suffered out-do his great highs?

It will take a great deal of thought from the writers eligible to vote, that’s for sure - with a number of the candidates being tough to decide on. Farr and Mills, for example, both failed to become world champion. Should these noble warriors make The Hall anyway?

Let’s see how the writers that matter decide to vote.

Article posted on 04.10.2011



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