Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame founder Rich Marotta deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
What he was able to achieve on Saturday night in Las Vegas at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino was impressive. When the inaugural list of inductees was released, it looked like it would be a difficult task to get some of boxing’s biggest names to co-exist, even for one night. Along with his son Joey, Marotta and a fair amount of help was able to make it happen.
“Even though there are some major rivalries in this room tonight, the idea was to get the boxing community to come together as one for this event,” said Marotta while on the dais.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was in attendance, having earned the Nevada Male Fighter of the Year honor. Mayweather was very gracious in accepting it, and even had kind words for former promoter Bob Arum, of whom he has said very few nice things over recent years.
Mayweather spoke of what a great job Arum has done with Top Rank and how he has tried using that as a model with his own company, Mayweather Promotions. Mayweather then referred to former world champion Cornelius Boza-Edwards as the Bruce Trampler of his company (Trampler being the renowned matchmaker for Arum’s Top Rank).
Perhaps one day boxing historians will trace the thaw in the Cold War back to this day?
The evening was full of warm-hearted and comedic moments, perhaps in part due to the open bar.
Larry Holmes basically broke into a boxing version of a Comedy Central Presents standup comedy routine. One of sport’s most polarizing figures during his time as heavyweight champion, Holmes shed a serious tone for a comical one.
He even shared a story of how he tricked his promoter, Don King (who was also being inducted), into giving him more money by bluffing about how rival Arum was offering him more than he was currently getting.
If fellow inductee and main event of the evening Mike Tyson continues his one-man stage show, he should consider bringing Holmes on the road as the undercard.
As for Arum, he is as synonymous with Las Vegas boxing as King. Though the two were embittered enemies for decades, both agreed that it wouldn’t have been right for one to go in without the other.
“I think it is appropriate because as much as we contributed at Top Rank to making Las Vegas the place for boxing, so did Don King,” said Arum while answering questions on the red carpet leading into the event. “He put on some major events in this city, so for us to be inducted together, is clearly appropriate.”
Accepting for the late Eddie Futch was his wife, Eva. Futch is widely considered one of the sport’s all-time best trainers, but Eva was still floored by the respect and admiration people have for him. Accepting on behalf of the late Diego Corrales was his wife, Michelle, who also shared some moving words.
One of the more special moments of the evening was seeing inducted referee Mills Lane appear. Lane suffered a stroke a decade ago, which has made traveling a difficult thing in recent years. He was in Canastota for his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June. His family, led by sons Terry and Tommy, rallied and made sure their father was present for Saturday’s event.
Though bigger names in boxing were in attendance, Lane earned the most respect out of anyone. That Tyson, Arum, and King all came to where Lane was sitting to pay their respects speaks to the fairness he instilled in the ring while refereeing world title bouts over three decades. Lane particularly lit up when Tyson came to say hello and offer an embrace.
All of the inductees except one were in attendance. Though he appeared at a kick-off event for the Hall last May, Oscar De La Hoya was not able to accept his induction in person on Saturday. Perhaps due to the conflict with Arum, or perhaps he was just busy.
Inductees Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike McCallum, Freddie Roach, Al Bernstein, Joe Cortez, Royce Feour, Marc Ratner, and Sig Rogich, as well as Female Fighter of the Year Layla McCarter, all were in attendance.
The tough task Marotta and company now face is how to top the inaugural event. Considering how he handled this edition without any sort of blueprint makes one think he’s got things under control.
Young Magdaleno discusses fight, change in trainer
Earning Nevada Prospect of the Year was junior featherweight Jesse Magdaleno, a Top Rank fighter with a bright future. Magdaleno has broken off from Pat Barry and Barry’s Boxing and has been training with his brother Diego and trainer Joel Diaz in Indio, Calif., for the past several weeks.
Diego separated from Barry after suffering a loss in his first title shot earlier this year against Roman Martinez. Jesse stuck with Barry, but eventually it became too difficult and he decided to join his brother with Diaz in southern California.
“All they’d talk about was my brother, and it got annoying,” said Magdaleno about the difficulty of working with Barry after Diego had left.
“There’s no better place to be than with your own family, who works as hard and trains as hard and motivates you to become number one. At the end of the day, I needed my brother and we needed each other.”
Photos: Mary Ann Owen-Top Rank; Ethan Miller-Gettyimages