Locals to be inducted into Boxing’s Hall of Fames: Morales, Garcia, Chong, Rochin & Rendon

The hot topic on March 20, 2018, was the number of our local brethren being honored with induction into the various Boxing Hall of Fames. First, you have the California Boxing Hall of Fame’s 17th Annual Honorary Ceremony at The Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center, Studio City, Calif. on  Saturday, March 24, 2018.

It isn’t the historic venue, the great meal, the lovely surroundings that make this Hall of Fame induction so grand, it is all of that plus an opportunity to meet exceptional people who for the great majority of their career were above the norm. They’re either athletes or the people from the support staffs who assisted these great athletes in their training or they were the officials who judged, refereed or promoted their events.

Renowned boxing promoter Don Fraser, founder, and president of the California Boxing Hall of Fame, proudly presents his organization’s 17th annual ceremony on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The event will consist of a luncheon plus awards presentation at The Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center on Ventura Highway in Studio City, Calif. (above photos speak volumes of the elegance for which this event is known)

You should recognize by now that beating “La Familia Garcia” either in or outside the ring might well be impossible.

This year’s inductees include MIKEY GARCIA, champion in four different weight divisions, veteran manager/trainer JIMMY MONTOYA, former super middleweight champion FRANKIE LILES, Showtime’s interviewer extraordinaire JIM GRAY, plus announcer JIMMY LENNON, JR. Officials being enshrined include Judge ALEJANDRO ROCHIN from San Diego, judge JULIE LEDERMAN, promoter KATHY DUVA, Tijuana boxing commissioner/judge BENJAMIN RENDON, President of Golden Boy Promotions, ERIC GOMEZ, former Boxing Greats RAY “Boom Boom” MANCINI, MICHAEL CARBAJAL and CHIQUITA GONZALEZ, plus Top Referee WAYNE HEDGPETH.

(photo left) Here we see boxing official/Commissioner Benjamin Rendon deep in thought while concentrating on the score he is about to give in the battle between Mariana “Barbie” Juarez and Alesia Graff in their November 11, 2017 bout for the WBC World Female Bantamweight Title. Juarez won by TKO in round six at the Palenque Inforum, Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. (photo right) Chula Vista, Calif. native Judge Alejandro Rochin (r), shown here, accompanied by fellow judge Jesus Gonzalez, posed for a photo at last year’s World Boxing Council National Convention.

Al Bernstein and Michelle Chong are to be inducted into the National Boxing Hall of Fame

International Hall of Fame Boxing announcer Al Bernstein plus local sports journalist/photographer Michele Chong have been included on the list of 12 inductees into the 2018 Class of the National Boxing Hall of Fame in Montebello, Calif. They join other distinguished inductees: boxers Ruben Castillo, Richie Sandoval, Eddie Mustafa Muhammed, George Chuvalo, Carlos Zarate, Lupe Pintor, Juan LaPorte, Christy Martin, Aaron Snowell, Alfonso Zamora. Cutman Miguel Diaz and Judge, Nevada State Athletic Commissioner, plus WBC Supervisor Herb Santos. Posthumous (family will attend): Muhammad Ali, Bundini Brown, Zora Folley, Ernie Lopez, Jerry Quarry. Rising Star Award: 2016 U. S. Olympian Karlos Balderas. The Don Sulaiman Lifetime Achievement Award winner: Don Majeski. The Howie Steindler Award: boxers Danny “Little Red” Lopez and Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez and finally, the Bobby Chacon Gift of Love Award: Mike Donahue.

If you ask anybody in the boxing world about Michele Chong and her knack of taking great photos, the superlatives will come gushing out. Over the years, this public relations whizz/photographer has helped a great many people and in doing so their careers have either blossomed or were considerably more memorable with the assist she provided.

Just ask the current WBC Super Bantamweight champ Danny Roman (l) about all the help he has received over the years from Michelle Chong.

During the actual Hall of Fame induction ceremony Michele Chong (l) was the recipient of two bouquets of flowers plus had an opportunity to have her photo taken with other inductees like with Christy Martin, Al Bernstein, Lupe Pintor and Carlos Zarate.

Al Bernstein: “It’s a unique honor to be inducted into this Hall of Fame with these great boxing figures. The National Boxing Hall of Fame has already shown me great hospitality and I look forward to a wonderful day on April 28.” 

For clarity: Al Bernstein is already a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame located in Canastota, New York plus several states’, and regional Boxing Hall of Fames. This year’s International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum announced the members of their Class of 2018 back in December. Their newest inductees include three modern era boxers who all enter the Hall in their first year of eligibility; heavyweight champion Dr. Ironfist Vitali Klitschko, four-division world champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales from Tijuana and light middleweight champion Ronald “Winky” Wright from Saint Petersburg, Florida. Non-participants to be inducted include German promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl plus broadcasters Steve Albert and Jim Gray

Tijuana’s very own Érik Morales who competed from 1993 to 2012. He is the first Mexican-born boxer in history to win world titles in four different weight classes having held the WBC super bantamweight title from 1997 to 2000, the WBC featherweight title twice between 2001 and 2003; the unified WBC and IBF super featherweight titles in 2004, and the WBC super lightweight title from 2011 to 2012. Morales defeated 15 world champions over the course of his career. ESPN ranked Morales at #49 on their list of the 50 greatest boxers of all time.

The 2018 Hall of Fame Induction Weekend will be held June 7-10th in Canastota, NY. Many events are planned in “Boxing’s Hometown” throughout that four-day celebration to include a 5K Race/Fun Run, golf tournament, boxing autograph card show, VIP Cocktail Reception, Parade of Champions and the Official Induction Ceremony on the Hall of Fame Museum Grounds. This Hall of Fame Weekend also includes Friday’s Fight Night at Turning Stone and Saturday’s Banquet. Both events will take place at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.

The Hall of Fame also released names of posthumous honorees: Sid Terris in the Old-Timer Category; and ring announcer Johnny Addie and promoter Lorraine Chargin in the Non-Participant Category.

More on Big Al:y members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxin

Over the years, boxing analyst/author Al Bernstein, a former newspaperman, later managing editor, reporter, covering Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NFL Draft, then TV anchor/top commentator/boxing guru has certainly worn many hats.

In 1980 Bernstein joined the fledgling all-sports network ESPN and until 1998 was their analyst on the popular Top Rank Boxing Series. He remained at ESPN until 2003 where he also wrote and hosted 26 episodes of Big Fights Boxing Hour, which chronicled the major matches in boxing history. In 1983 he announced his first pay-per-view match featuring Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Roberto Duran and ever since has been involved in countless telecasts involving ring legends. In 1992 and 1996 he served as an analyst for NBC’s Olympic Games coverage. Since 2003, he’s been an analyst for Showtime Championship Boxing and called such classic bouts as Corrales vs. Castillo and Vazquez vs. Marquez series. As a versatile broadcaster, he has performed admirably not only as the host but the blow-by-blow announcer or even in-ring interviewer. Armed with a passion for the sport, his vast knowledge of technique and training, the smooth voice and demeanor, it’s a no-brainer why boxing fans worldwide enjoy listening to his comments. 

Back in 2012, this reporter just happened to stop by the ABC Youth Foundation Mongoose Gym founded by legendary boxer Archie Moore. On that day, Mr. Bernstein, a member of the foundation’s Board of Directors, was hitting the heavy bag. After all my kind words, you would have thought Mr. Bernstein would have been more sociable to a fellow boxing scribe. But no, he became aggressive. As I later found out, Bernstein is the enforcer for the Foundation. Anytime, a member of this gym has a problem with anybody, they’re on the phone to Big Al who lives in Las Vegas, five-plus hours away (by car) from the gym. Bernstein will immediately drop whatever he’s doing, get into his limo and drive south to put that troublemaker in their place. (top, right) Bernstein is joined by fellow thugs (r to l) Billie Moore, Archie Moore’s son, coach Art Wilson plus a fellow coach/parent of one of the members.

Mr. Bernstein wanted me to mention that local Boxing Fans can take part in this Annual Gala, the National Boxing Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony, along with the legends of our sport plus future stars on Saturday, April 28th, 2018 from 11:00 am. – 3:00 pm. at the Quiet Cannon Event Center, 901 Via San Clemente, Montebello, Calif. Tickets are $75 and available at www.nationalboxinghalloffame.com. All 2018 Inductees are confirmed to attend this year’s event. Since limited seating is available, tickets must be purchased in advance. For more info go to: info@nationalboxinghalloffame.com

 Here’s another follow-up that concerns Al Bernstein’s fans:

Al Bernstein’s next SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING assignment is on Saturday, March 31, 2018, when he will be calling the action for the Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker heavyweight title fight from Cardiff, Wales. This match follows on the heels of the thrilling Deontay Wilder victory over Luis Ortiz. We should also expect plenty of fireworks in this bout. I’m sure both boxers have been prepped by Mr. Bernstein. 

Al Bernstein: “Our own brand of Heavyweight March Madness will end with just two Champions and perhaps they will be headed on a collision course.”

Wouldn’t that be something! Believe it or not, the Sport of Boxing has to go all the way back in their archives to August 1, 1987 when “Iron” Mike Tyson (30-0, 27 KOs) unified the World Heavyweight Title (winning the IBF, WBA and the WBC Heavyweight titles) by defeating Tony Tucker (34-0, 29 KOs) at the Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. The referee was Mills Lane and this 12 round bout aired on HBO. The promoter was somebody by the name of Don King and the ring announcer was Chuck Hull.

If you kept the poster from that Mike Tyson vs. Tony Tucker Championship fight, we suggest you put it in a safe place. Like most collectibles, that bit of memorabilia plus the Sports Illustrated magazine article announcing the winner will be going up in price.

This was the final fight of HBO’s heavyweight unification tournament. Originally, the WBA/WBC champion was going to face the winner of a fight between Michael Spinks, the IBF champion and Tony Tucker, the IBF’s No. 1 contender in the tournament’s final. However, instead of facing Mr. Tucker, Spinks chose to fight Gerry Cooney for a larger purse and the powers to be then stripped Spinks of his title. Three months later, on the undercard of the Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas fight, Tucker defeated James “Buster” Douglas to win the vacant IBF heavyweight title.

Tyson, an 11 to 1 betting favorite, then defeated Tucker and had made the title whole again which lasted two years, six months and 11 days until that ill-fated upset to James Douglas in Tokyo on February 11, 1990. You might consider this talk about a return to a unified crown hogwash by mentioning Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko currently holds the record for the longest combined championship reign in history at 4,383 days; the most wins in world title bouts in the post-war heavyweight history at 25; the most wins in unified title bouts, and the longest unified championship reign in pro boxing history at 15 title bouts and 14 consecutive defenses; plus he has the second most successful title defenses of any heavyweight boxer with 23 (which includes his first reign as WBO champion), behind Joe Louis (25). He’s held the various heavyweight crowns for 9 straight years, but skeptics will point out that he didn’t exactly fight the top contenders and he also refused to dish out the added stipend to fight the WBC Champion for the WBC belt.

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