By: Raymundo Dioses
Last week the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame announced their 2017 inductees.
Of the eight fighters selected this year, six either held a version of the International Boxing Federation title or fought for one in what will be an induction year strewn with IBF affiliations.
The most notable International Boxing Federation title holder to be inducted into the ACBHOF, set to take place at the The Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey in late May 2017, is Mike Tyson.
Tyson first won the IBF heavyweight title on August 1, 1987 via unanimous decision over Tony Tucker in a bout titled “The Ultimate” to make ‘Iron Mike’ the youngest ever undisputed heavyweight champion. Tucker had earned the vacant IBF title with a TKO win over James ‘Buster’ Douglas on May 30, 1987.
Also an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011, Tyson was a long reigning IBF champion, having made six successful defenses over a span of almost three years over the likes of Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks and Frank Bruno before losing the IBF title to Buster Douglas on February 2, 1990 via knockout loss in what is widely considered the greatest upset in sports history.
Michael Spinks was the International Boxing Federations first light-heavyweight champion, winning the title on February 25, 1984 via unanimous decision over Eddie Davis and Spinks defended his undisputed status as a light heavyweight champion in two successful defenses prior to moving up to the heavyweight division and dethroning IBF heavyweight title holder Larry Holmes on September 21, 1985. With the win over Holmes, Spinks became the first reigning light heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight championship.
Spinks, nicknamed “Jinx” for his powerful right hand named “The Sphinx Jinx”, again defeated Holmes on April 19, 1986 and made a knockout defense of the IBF heavyweight title over Steffen Tangstad later that year before facing Tyson on June 27, 1988 and losing via KO within 91 seconds of the fight. It would be Spinks’ last career bout. Spinks was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994.
Larry Holmes was the first ever International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion and notched a TKO victory over James “Bone-Crusher” Smith on November 9, 1984 inside 12 of the scheduled 15 rounds. The IBF was created the year previous in 1983 and eventually garnered its strong reputation as one of the four major sanctioning organizations in the sport of boxing.
Known as the “Easton Assassin”, Holmes defended the IBF strap twice with wins over David Bey and Carl Williams before losing the title to Michael Spinks on September 21, 1985 via 15 round unanimous decision. Holmes would make two more attempts to gain the IBF title, losing a split decision to Spinks on April 19, 1986 in their rematch, and then Holmes was knocked out inside four rounds by then undisputed champion Tyson in a fight named “Heavyweight History” on January 22, 1988. Holmes was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
Arturo “Thunder” Gatti came into the possession of the International Boxing Federation USBA super featherweight title on June 28, 1994 when he defeated Pete Taliaferro by TKO and after two more USBA title fights, Gatti faced Tracy Harris Patterson at the Madison Square Garden on December 15, 1995, lifting the IBF’s super featherweight title from Patterson with a unanimous decision win alongside scoring an early knockdown in round two and fighting through two hampered eyes.
Gatti made three successful defenses of the IBF super featherweight title with another win over Patterson, two knockout wins over Wilson Rodriguez and Gabriel Ruelas (named Knockout of the Year and Fight of the Year in 1997) before moving up in weight to face some of the biggest names in boxing including Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. Gatti also engaged in the Fight of The Year in 1998 against Ivan Robinson and had three memorable bouts against Mickey Ward, with both Gatti-Ward I (2002) and Gatti-Ward III (2003) notching Fight of the Year honors.
Gatti died in July 2009 and was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Atlantic City, New Jersey native Leavander Johnson began his career in 1989 in his home city and lost attempts at other lightweight titles before winning the USBA title in October 2002 with a majority decision over Julian Wheeler.
In his fourth career attempt at a major world title, Johnson TKO’d Stefano Zoff in Milan, Italy for the vacant IBF lightweight title. Johnson made his first defense of the title three months later on September 17, 2005 in a fatal match up against Jesus Chavez. Johnson lost by TKO in the 11th round and later died of complications resulting from damage received in the fight.
New Jersey resident Dwight Muhammad Qawi was a prominent cruiserweight contender throughout his 20 year career. Qawi, known as the “Camden Buzzsaw”, lost his bid for the IBF cruiserweight belt to Evander Holyfield on December 5, 1987 inside four rounds.
In the non-participant category, iconic fight promoter Don King and legendary referee Steve Smoger will be inducted into the ACBHOF. King promoted a host of IBF titleholders throughout his career and Smoger, an Atlantic City, New Jersey resident, has officiated many IBF title bouts.