The International Boxing Hall of Fame will induct their Class of 2023 this week. Considered the definitive boxing hall, the Canastota-based facility honours fighters as well as what they term non-participants, which includes figures such as referees and promoters. There is also an observer category, honouring journalists and commentators. A fighter becomes eligible for the IBHoF ballot when they have been retired from competition for a period of five years or more.
Britain’s Carl Froch will be honoured at this year's event, which takes place between 8-11th June. ‘The Cobra’ gets in on the strength of two reigns as super middleweight champion of the world. His signature wins came in his last three fights. Froch won a thrilling rematch with Mikkel Kessler to unify the WBA and IBF championships. He then embarked on two fights with George Groves that would catapult him into the British mainstream.
Their first encounter, at the Manchester Arena, saw Froch climb off the canvas to stop ‘Saint George’ in the ninth round. The bad blood between the pair was ramped up when Groves perceived the stoppage as premature. A series of bitter encounters in front of the cameras over the following months led to a rematch at Wembley Stadium.
Froch’s boasts about the fact he won in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium has since descended into the realm of meme. But the fact two British non-heavyweights generated that sort of huge interest, and drew a then-record crowd for boxing in this country, is worth bragging about. Not since Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn’s bitter feud a decade before had two domestic fights captured the national consciousness. Froch cemented his legend with an eighth round knockout of Groves, before retiring as a unified champion.
Froch will be inducted alongside some modern greats of the sport. Timothy Bradley Jr goes in after a career that saw him win world titles at two weights. ‘Desert Storm’ is best known for his trilogy with Manny Pacquiao, in which he won a controversial decision in their first fight. Rafael Marquez goes in, joining his brother Juan Manuel in the IBHoF. The younger Marquez is a two-weight world champion who contested a blistering four-fight series with Israel Vazquez. ESPN termed their rivalry “the most entertaining fight series in recent boxing history”.
Pioneering pugilist Laura Serrano, sister of current champion Amanda, gets a long overdue nod. Her legal battle for the right to fight in her hometown of Mexico City was a huge watershed for women’s boxing. A former rival of hers, Alicia Ashley, is also being inducted. The former super bantamweight champion comes from a family of talent, with one sister who is a chess grandmaster and another who is a world kickboxing champion.
This year’s non-participant category sees legendary trainer Joe Goosen, matchmaker Brad Goodman and promotional executive Brad Jacobs inducted. The observer category will honour broadcaster Tim Ryan and television executive Seth Abraham. There is also posthumous nods in the ‘Old Timer’ category for Tiger Jack Fox and Pone Kingpetch and a ‘Women’s Trailblazer Induction’ for JoAnn Hagen.