clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022 Hall of Fame: Who gets in?

We’ve seen lots of great talent retire this year, so who makes the first ballot Hall of Fame in 2022?

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

2017 has been a tremendous year of boxing — the best year I can remember offhand — but it’s also marked the end of an era in more ways than one. With all the great fights we’ve had, we’ve also seen a number of great fighters call it quits this year — many of whom have had Hall of Fame worthy careers.

But as it goes, the International Boxing Hall of Fame only inducts three fighters every year (who become eligible five years after their final fight), so who should be first ballot in 2022? Let’s have a look at some of the top candidates for induction.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0, 27 KOs)

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This one is a no-brainer, really. Floyd Mayweather may have reached his 50th victory in a fight that many boxing fans regarded as a farce, but it counts just the same — and really doesn’t detract from everything else he’s accomplished in his career. The forty-year-old fighter says he’s gone for good now, and leaves the sport having world titles in five different weight classes.

And not only has Mayweather ended his professional career without ever having taken a loss, he’s beaten at least a half-dozen current or future HOF fighters along the way. That list includes the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Arturo Gatti, and Juan Manuel Marquez, just to name a few.

Also, considering that Mayweather was the leading face of boxing for the last 10 years, it’s a pretty safe bet that he is one of the three inductees come 2022, no doubt.

Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs)

Boxing at Wembley Stadium Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Klitschko put on one of the best performances of his entire career this past April when he took on Anthony Joshua. It was a scintillating fight that had a lot of back and forth action before Klitschko was ultimately stopped in the 11th round. But the fight was so good that almost everybody expected an immediate rematch — but Klitschko, at age 41, decided enough was enough and announced his retirement.

The heavyweight won his first world title (WBO) in 2000 against Chris Byrd and defended it five times successfully before taking a stoppage loss to Corrie Sanders in early 2003. He would regain a world title once again in 2006 against Chris Byrd, this time the IBF strap, and would go on a near decade-long tear where he defended his title 18 times in a row, picking up the WBA and WBO belts along the way. Klitschko wouldn’t lose again until he met Tyson Fury in late 2015.

So as watered down as the heavyweight division was during Klitschko’s reign, few fighters in history can claim this sort of dominance. Klitschko is likely to be another first ballot Hall of Famer in 2022.

Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs)

Andre Ward v Sergey Kovalev 2 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Andre Ward surprised just about everyone when he just recently announced his retirement, which seemingly came out of nowhere. The former Olympic Gold Medalist — the last one the U.S. has seen — rose to prominence during the Super Six tournament where he beat the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch on his way to solidifying himself as the best 168-pounder on the planet.

Ward would then take on Chad Dawson, who was coming down from light heavyweight, and thoroughly dismantled him en route to a 10th round stoppage. With little challenges left at 168, Ward would work his way up to light heavyweight where he would twice take on another top pound-for-pound fighter in Sergey Kovalev — earning two wins, and the latter by TKO.

That second win established Ward atop most pound-for-pound rankings, and satisfied with having achieved his career goals, Ward hung up the gloves, even with some still left in the tank.

Roy Jones Jr. (65-9, 47 KOs)

Hopkins v Jones Media Workout Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Now here’s where things get interesting. Roy Jones had what is believed to be — finally — his last professional fight this past February against Bobby Gunn. It’s been a long time since Jones reigned as the pound-for-pound king, but anyone who saw him in his prime know just how talented and deadly Jones was.

Jones really made his mark in his 1994 fight against James Toney, easily handling another future Hall of Famer over 12 rounds. After starting his career in 1989, Jones wouldn’t suffer his first defeat until 1997 where he lost by disqualification against Montell Griffin. Jones would make that right just a few months later, however, swiftly knocking out Griffin in one round before he could lose by any technicality.

Over the years Jones, who had begun as a middleweight, would move up the scales to light heavyweight, and eventually made a jump to full blown heavyweight for a title fight with John Ruiz in 2003. With that title win Jones cemented his legacy, having won world titles in four different weight classes.

Jones will always be remembered as one of the best and most talented fighters in history — so good that he often got away with failed fundamentals — but he continued to fight long past his prime, getting knocked out in scary fashion a number of times along the way. The fact is, though, we all knew Roy was a lock for the Hall of Fame once he finally stopped fighting.

Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs)*

Juan Manuel Marquez v Mike Alvarado Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Now this one gets an asterisk because although Marquez officially announced his retirement this year, his last fight actually took place in 2014, so he could be eligible for induction before 2022. But let’s, for discussion sake, just throw him into this group.

Maquez is one of Mexico’s all time greats. He began his career as a junior featherweight and would eventually win world titles at featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight. Marquez is best known for three nip-and-tuck affairs with Manny Pacquiao, before emphatically knocking him out in their fourth meeting in late 2012 (another close fight until the abrupt ending).

Marquez would soon thereafter be hampered by a nagging knee injury, one he hoped to come back from, but he just couldn’t get over the hump and decided to officially call it quits this year after being in discussions for another big fight with Miguel Cotto. Maquez is one of the very best counter punchers in recent times and will surely get into the Hall of Fame at some point.

Timothy Bradley Jr. (33-2-1, 13 KOs)

Manny Pacquiao v Timothy Bradley Jr. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Of the previous five fighters listed above, Bradley is probably the easiest to leave off the first ballot Hall of Fame. And that’s really no discredit to Bradley as much as it is immense praise these other fighters deserve. Bradley, a two weight world champion, even earned a decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez in late 2013.

Bradley was nothing but a really good fighter with a humble personality — one of my personal favorite people in the sport. After Bradley won his first world title at 140lbs over Junior Witter in 2008, he would move on to beat Kendall Holt, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, and Joel Casamayor before earning a controversial win over Manny Pacquiao in 2012.

The win over Pacquiao earned Bradley a lot of undeserved criticism considering he was just fighting the fight, not judging, but he won back a lot of goodwill from fans with a rousing fight against Rulan Provodnikov in 2013. But that goodwill came at a steep price. Bradley took some serious head trauma in going to war with the Russian puncher, and freely admitted that he suffered months of after effects relating to the fight, including slurred speech.

But after a few months of rest, Bradley was back in action, and in good form, when he beat Marquez later that year, but he would still reference the Provodinkov aftermath in his decision to hang up this year. Bradley’s only two losses have come at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, and he’s likely to make into the Hall of Fame at one point or another — even if doesn’t make the first ballot cut.

So tell me fans, which three fighters do you think are most deserving of the first ballot HOF in 2022? Let me know in the comments below.