Stars shine at IBHOF Banquet

Report/Photos: Boxing Bob Newman

Saturday evening at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, The Event Center once again played host to a memorable boxing event. This time however, it was not a fight card, but the annual IBHOF induction weekend banquet.

The dais seated a who’s who of boxing luminaries. Boxing podcaster James “Smitty” Smith played host for the event. He first introduced WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and had them come up and say a few words.

The two presidents remained at the lectern when Smith then introduced Lisa McClellan, sister of former WBO and WBC world champion Gerald McClellan. Lisa has founded an initiative called “Ring of Brotherhood,” which consists of doctors, sports personalities and media to help spread awareness and assist injured athletes.

2024 inductees Jackie Kallen (manger), Fred Sternburg (publicist) and Wally Matthews (writer/broadcaster) were up next and talked about their long, if not unlikely paths to being inducted into this year’s class.

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Former HBO Boxing analyst Jim Lampley and ring great Mickey Ward teamed up to look back at the trilogy between Ward and his archival and later friend, Arturo Gatti.

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Sebastian & Gabriella Fundora shared their experience of being boxing’s first brother/sister champions, reigning at the same time.

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2024 inductee Jane Couch, reflected on being Great Britain’s first licensed female boxer and how appreciative she is of the kindness she has been extended during her stay in Canastota.

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Erik Morales and former arch rival, now friend, Marco Antonio Barrera looked back on their own memorable trilogy.

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2024 inductee Michael Moorer immediately started off by telling the gathering that he suffers from social anxiety and then, after thanking everyone for coming and thanking the IBHOF for inducting him, he joked that he will give, “A longer speech tomorrow!”

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Tony Weeks, third man in the ring for the war between 2024 inductee Diego Corrales and his rival Jose Luis Castillo, talked about his experience refereeing their epic first fight.

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2024 inductee Ana Maria Torres expressed her thanks to the WBC for supporting women’s boxing and helping her become Mexico’s first female champion.

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King of the Four Rounders- Eric Esch, better known as “Butterbean,” gave an inspirational talk based on his battle back from nearly 500 lbs. in weight and two ruined hips with which he was unable to walk or even stand upright, to now weighing 280 lbs. and walking upright and unassisted. “If you believe in yourself, you can do anything,” beamed Butterbean.

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2024 inductee Ivan Calderon thanked the WBO for their support in his career and expressed great pride in being inducted with the rest of this year’s class.

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Ray Mercer thanked his fellow veterans (Mercer fought for the United States Army and won the heavyweight gold medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea). He also thanked “All the wives out there. You know as fighters, when we come home all battered and beaten, you know who takes care of us? Our wives!”

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Ricky Hatton shared that during his visit to the IBHOF museum today to see his plaque, he noticed it was only two spots away from his childhood idol, Roberto Duran. He texted Duran to tell him that, to which Duran replied with a huge congratulations and that Hatton deserved it. Hatton said, “If there was ever a time where you were going to see a grown man cry, that was it!”

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And with that, the dinner came to an end and fans descended upon the dais for autographs and photos with the assembled fighters and other inductees.

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  • Every Boxing fan should attend a least one of these events!! Very well organized and lots of fun rubbing elbows with all of the fighters in attendance!!

    • Thing is , would the organisers let you attend? I do agree with you that it would be a magic moment.

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