Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, and "Prince" Naseem Hamed lead the 2015 International Boxing Hall of Fame class, as results were announced earlier today. The induction ceremony will be held on June 14, 2015, in Canastota, New York.
Bowe (43-1, 33 KO) had a brief prime and a strange career, but was one of the best heavyweights of the 1990s. In 1992, he defeated Evander Holyfield to become world heavyweight champion, in a classic battle that was recognized by RING Magazine as the Fight of the Year.
Though he lost a rematch in 1993 to Holyfield, he regained a portion (WBO) of the heavyweight title in 1995 when he knocked out Herbie Hide, and won a 1995 rubber match with Holyfield. In 1996, he won a pair of bizarre disqualifications over Andrew Golota, which led to Bowe joining the United States Marine Corps Reserves, which he left after three days of training.
He had serious issues with the law after that, including a conviction for a 1998 kidnapping of his estranged wife and their five children. His sentence was lessened when his team claimed brain damage suffered in boxing had influenced his behavior.
Bowe did return to boxing later, fighting in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Attempts to secure a serious fight failed. In 2013, Bowe debuted in Muay Thai, losing to Levgen Golovin when the fight was stopped in the second round. Bowe had been dropped five times due to leg kicks and was unable to stand after the fight.
Though his later career was marred by a series of strange and unfortunate incidents, Bowe, now 46, had a prime that was quite notable and memorable, and he'll now be enshrined in the IBHOF because of that.
Mancini (29-5, 23 KO) was one of the most popular fighters of the early 80s, holding the WBA lightweight title from 1982-84. He had fought and lost to WBC champion Alexis Arguello in 1981, too, which may have been the greatest fight of his career, even in defeated. Mancini was stopped in the 14th round of a classic fight.
Mancini's most infamous night, though, came on November 13, 1982, when he fought Duk Koo Kim, who died as a result of injuries sustained in the bout. That fight was the catalyst for boxing's shift from 15 round championship fights to 12 round championship fights, recognized by all four sanctioning bodies by the end of the 1980s.
After beating Arturo Frias in May 1982 for the WBA lightweight title, he made successful defenses against Ernesto Espana, Kim, Orlando Romero, and Bobby Chacon, before losing a pair of fights in 1984 and 1985 to Livingstone Bramble. Mancini was out of boxing until 1989, when he returned to lose to Hector "Macho" Camacho, which was followed by a loss in 1992 to Greg Haugen.
Mancini, now 53, has worked as a commentator and analyst since he retired from the sport, and has remained a beloved figure in the boxing world. In 2013, an acclaimed documentary called The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini was released.
Hamed, Mancini, and Bowe are all similar cases, actually. Each is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate worthy of debate on both sides, and all of them had a short prime where they accomplished a lot and became memorable figures, and top stars of their eras.
Hamed, now 40, is a former featherweight champion who emerged as one of the most famous and infamous figures of the 1990s, a controversial, flashy fighter who provided excitement and the sort of pageantry few others have ever matched.
Hamed (36-1, 31 KO) turned pro in 1992, and was European champion by 1994. In 1995, he won the WBO featherweight title from Steve Robinson, unifying that with the IBF belt in 1997, thanks to a victory over Tom Johnson. By the late 90s, he was one of the most famous fighters in the world, thanks to his brash and outspoken style in and out of the ring.
After wins over the likes of Kevin Kelley, Wilfredo Vazquez, and Wayne McCullough, Hamed suffered his lone loss in April 2001, when he was upset by Mexico's Marco Antonio Barrera. Barrera won a competitive and clear decision that has since been blown up into some sort of domination with time and TV specials fogging up some memories, somewhat embarrassing Hamed. For those who loved Hamed, it was a reality check. For those who did not love Hamed, it was worthy of celebration, as the arrogant star fighter had been taught a lesson by a fantastic fighter with a more "humble" attitude.
Hamed would fight just one more time, beating Manuel Calvo in May 2002. Though he easily won the fight with a 12-round shutout performance, Hamed didn't look like the shock-and-awe fighter of before. Hamed noted family commitments and chronic hand injuries as reasons for leaving the sport at 28. Promoter Frank Warren later said that, "At one stage he was the most exciting fighter that I'd ever been involved with," while British boxing pundit Steve Bunce once said he was the greatest British boxer of all time.
In 2005, Hamed was involved in a serious automobile accident in Sheffield, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. He has re-emerged as a popular fight figure in the UK since then, often joining talk shows and attending many major fights.
Yuko Gushiken (23-1, 15 KO), former junior flyweight champion from 1976-81 ... Masao Oba (35-2-1, 16 KO), former flyweight champion from 1970-73. Oba is a posthumous inductee. He died three weeks after his last fight in January 1973, in a car accident. ... Ken Overlin (135-19-9, 23 KO), a former middleweight champion who fought from 1931-44. Overlin passed away in 1969 at age 58. ... HBO broadcaster and journalist Jim Lampley ... Former RING Magazine editor Nigel Collins ... Manager Rafael Mendoza ... Referee Steve Smoger ... Publicist John F.X. Condon.