For boxers Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, “Prince” Naseem Hamed, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Yoko “Fierce Eagle” Gushiken; manager Rafael Mendoza, referee Steve Smoger, journalist Nigel Collinsand broadcaster Jim Lampley, their day in the sun is rapidly approaching. On Sunday, June 14th they will join boxing’s immortals when they are officially inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.
Yoko Gushiken, Rafael Mendoza, Steve Smoger, Nigel Collins and Jim Lampley also enter Hall of Fame
The International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum announced today the newest class of inductees to enter the Hall. Living inductees include heavyweight champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, featherweight champion “Prince” Naseem Hamed and lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in the Modern category; light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken in the Old-Timer category; booking agent / manager Rafael Mendoza and referee Steve Smoger in the Non-Participant category; and editor / journalist Nigel Collins and broadcaster Jim Lampley in the Observer category.
Back in April of 2001, “Prince,” Naseem Hamed, then sporting a perfect 35-0 record, faced “The Baby Faced Assassin,” Marco Antonio Barrera, then holding a 52-3 pro ledger in one of the biggest featherweight fights in recent history. What took place in the ring proved memorable.
The showdown, at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was widely expected to provide another exciting knockout night for “Naz” – instead we saw a would-be great humbled almost to the point of retirement.
Who can forget the way Hamed, by now trained by the great Emanuel Steward, took so long in coming out of his dressing room for battle? A good fifteen or twenty minutes passed before Barrera, who had made his way to the ring with no fuss at all, was joined by the U.K superstar who was attempting to gain similar status in America. On the way to the ring, carried in as he was by a huge, sort of hoop/swing that held him aloft, Hamed was pelted by unimpressed fans, who threw beer over the deeply religious, non-drinking Muslim. The irony was not lost!
By James Slater – I can vividly remember Emanuel Steward, who was training featherweight sensation Naseem Hamed at the time, telling an interviewer that Hamed would, in time, go down in history as the greatest featherweight of all-time. I was shocked by those words, coming as they did from a highly knowledgeable and respected trainer. No way did I agree then (the statement was made by Emanuel just prior to the Barrera fight, back in 2001) and no way do I agree now.
Just where then, does “The Prince” rank amongst the very best in featherweight history? Many will disagree, but to my mind he does not belong in a list of the top ten finest featherweights of all-time. In fact, when Steward made his amazing statement I fully believe the likes of Sandy Saddler, Henry Armstrong and Salvador Sanchez were turning over in their graves! And as for the truly gifted featherweight boxers from yesteryear who are still with us, along with quite a few from more recent years – some of whom are still active-they too must have at the very least raised an eyebrow or two upon hearing the lavish praise Emanuel was bestowing on his fighter at the time.