VERONA, N.Y. — Reduced to tears at a banquet on the eve of his massive day, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday, only a tinge of emotion in his voice as he accepted the dignity.
“I done a lot in my career, but this is by far the best,” stated Mayweather, who credited his mother, dad and sister for a lot of his success. “I want to thank the International Boxing Hall of Fame for giving me this. This right here is going to my dad because he deserves it. Bernard Hopkins said it best, ‘You’ve got to earn it,’ and my dad earned this ring.
“I need to say thanks to all people to your help. I need to inform all of the fighters — thanks, you guys are exceptional. There would not be no me with out you guys.”
Mayweather, who retired unbeaten in 50 fights, headlined the three classes that were inducted Sunday. The pandemic forced the postponement of the previous two induction ceremonies, making 2022 a crowded affair. The ceremony was moved from the Hall of Fame’s home in Canastota, New York, to Turning Stone Resort and Casino in nearby Verona to accommodate the 36 honorees.
Roy Jones Jr., Miguel Cotto, James Toney and female champions Regina Halmich and Holly Holm were part of this year’s class. The class of 2020 included multidivision 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 shot to fame when she was featured on some of Mike Tyson’s fight cards in the 1990s; induction came on her 54th birthday. For Ali, it was a return to where her career started: She won her first match in October 1999 against April Fowler at Turning Stone.
All but one of the 27 fighters inducted were scheduled to be at the ceremony. The one missing was former heavyweight champion Klitschko. He is in Ukraine helping his brother, Vitali, a Hall of Famer himself and now the mayor of the capital city of 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 pro record of 64-5 (53 KOs) — released two short videos on social media to acknowledge the honor.
“Thank you followers,” he said. “I by no means ever dreamed of getting that far within the sport. Amazing. Boxing simply made me a greater individual, interval. It taught me lots.”
Although his videos were short, Klitschko made a point of criticizing fellow inductee Jones for traveling to Russian-occupied Crimea.
“So Roy, whose aspect are you on? ” Klitschko said. “I actually respect you as a fighter, however I actually query your ethical compass.”