VERONA, NY – Reduced to tears at a banquet on the eve of his big day, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday, just a tinge of emotion in his voice as he accepted the honor.
“I’ve done a lot in my career, but this is by far the best,” said Mayweather, who credited much of his success to his mother, father and sister. “I want to thank the International Boxing Hall of Fame for giving me this. This goes to my dad because he deserves it. Bernard Hopkins said it best, ‘You gotta earn it,’ and my dad won that ring.
“I want to say thank you to everyone for your support. I want to say to all the fighters – thank you, you are amazing. There would be no me without you.”
Mayweather, who retired undefeated in 50 fights, headlined the three classes that were inducted on Sunday. The pandemic forced the postponement of the two previous induction ceremonies, making 2022 a busy affair. The ceremony was moved from the Hall of Fame’s home in Canastota, New York, to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino near Verona to accommodate the 36 honorees.
Roy Jones Jr., Miguel Cotto, James Toney and women’s champions Regina Halmich and Holly Holm were part of this year’s class. The Class of 2020 included multidivisional champions Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez and “Sugar” Shane Mosley. The Class of 2021 included Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko and Andre Ward.
Also among those honored were the first female fighters – Christy Martin, Laila Ali, Lucia Rijker, Halmich and Holm – to be enshrined. Martin rose to fame when she featured on some of Mike Tyson’s fight cards in the 1990s; the induction took place on his 54th birthday. For Ali, it was a return to where her career began: she won her first match in October 1999 against April Fowler at Turning Stone.
All but one of the 27 fighters inducted were expected to be at the ceremony. The one missing was former heavyweight champion Klitschko. He is in Ukraine to help his brother, Vitali, himself a Hall of Famer and now mayor of the capital Kyiv, during the ongoing war against invading Russia.
Instead, Wladimir Klitschko – who was heavyweight champion for 12 years and two days, longer than anyone in history, and finished with a professional record of 64-5 (53 KOs) – posted two short videos on social networks to recognize the honor. .
“Thank you fans,” he said. “I never dreamed of going this far in the sport. Unbelievable. Boxing made me a better person, period. It taught me a lot.”
Although his videos are short, Klitschko was keen to criticize fellow inductee Jones for traveling to Russian-occupied Crimea.
“So Roy, which side are you on?” said Klitschko. “I really respect you as a fighter, but I really question your moral compass.”