More than a quarter-century after their pound-for-pound showdown, Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney march into the Hall of Fame together.
The pair of all-time greats lead the Class of 2022 members inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Jones and Toney are joined by boxers Miguel Cotto, Holly Holm and Regina Halmich, all of whom will be honored during a stacked ceremony next June on Hall of Fame grounds in Canastota, New York.
Among the living inductees whose contributions to the sport came beyond the ropes are: publicist “Uncle” Bill Caplan (Non-Participant); veteran journalist and former BoxingScene.com contributor Ron Borges (Observer) and historian/producer Bob Yalen (Observer), who also serves as president of MTK Global and head of its U.S. operations.
Former junior lightweight champion Tod Morgan (Old Timer) and legendary ring announcer Chuck Hull (Non-Participant) were also elected and will receive posthumous inductions next June.
Jones (66-9, 47KOs) is the only boxer among the Class of 2022 to be elected in his first year of eligibility. The 1988 Olympic Silver medalist from Pensacola, Florida enjoyed a 29-year career spanning six weight divisions and four titles, along with a longtime stay atop the mythical pound-for-pound rankings.
Among the highlights of Jones’ career were his wins over Toney and John Ruiz. The showdown with Toney came in November 1994, at a time when both were unbeaten and high among the sport’s best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. Jones moved up from middleweight where he held the IBF title to challenge Toney, at the time an undefeated two-division and reigning IBF super middleweight champion. Jones turned their world class fight into a showcase performance, dominating Toney over 12 rounds to lay the groundwork as the premier fighter of his generation.
Jones would go on to become a three-time light heavyweight titlist—including his unifying the WBC/WBA/IBF titles during his second reign—and also win a piece of the heavyweight crown. His March 2003 win over WBA heavyweight titlist John Ruiz saw Jones become the first former middleweight titlist in more than 100 years to claim a heavyweight belt.
The heavyweight reign was one fight and done for Jones, who dropped back down to light heavyweight, edging Antonio Tarver in the first fight of their trilogy in November 2003—his last ever title win. Tarver scored a stunning second-round knockout of Jones in their May 2004 rematch, going on to outpoint his fellow Floridian in their October 2005 rubber match.
Jones’ first title win came over another Hall of Famer in Bernard Hopkins, who led the Class of 2020 during his first year of eligibility. Jones defeated Hopkins in their May 1993 vacant IBF middleweight title fight. Hopkins gained revenge of sorts, outpointing a badly faded Jones in their rematch nearly 17 years later in April 2010.
The final fight of Jones’ historic career came in February 2018, fittingly at the Pensacola Civic Center which housed his May 1989 pro debut. Jones outpointed Scott Sigmon for his fourth straight win before announcing his retirement.
Three years later, he is now Canastota bound.
“This is an absolutely marvelous feeling,” Jones stated upon receiving the news. “I’m so honored that I get this opportunity and I can’t wait to go to Canastota to see it come to fruition.”
He is fittingly joined by his longtime pound-for-pound and former ring rival.
There is an argument to be made that Toney (77-10-3, 47KOs) deserved entry on the first try as well. The former three-division titlist from Ann Arbor, Michigan was part of a loaded Hall of Fame ballot one year ago that saw Floyd Mayweather Jr., Andre Ward and Wladimir Klitschko all voted in during their first year of eligibility. Three modern-day male boxers are voted in every year, with room for additional participants who receive votes from 80% or more of the votes from Hall of Fame electors.
Toney missed the cut, with some voters opting to place their votes elsewhere on a stacked ballot due to his having twice tested positive for banned substances.
The first occasion cost him the distinction of becoming a four-division titlist, with his April 2005 WBA heavyweight title winning effort over Ruiz overturned after testing positive for nandrolone. The argument in favor of Toney suggested that he was already Hall of Fame-worthy by that point, having emerged to the top of the class at middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight.
One year later, the subject became a moot point as Toney received the necessary votes—and didn’t seem at all bothered by the delay.
“Yeah baby! I made it,” exclaimed Toney, also a 29-year pro who retired in 2017—nine months before Jones. “This is so great. I’ve been waiting for this call and I’m so happy. I can’t believe it. I’m almost tearing up. It’s a blessing and I’m looking forward to coming to Canastota as an inductee!”
Cotto (41-6, 33KOs) enters four years after his last bout, almost to the day.
The fighting pride of Caguas, Puerto Rico proudly represented his island in the 2000 Sydney Olympics before turning pro in February 2001. By his fourteenth year as a pro, Cotto would make history in becoming the first-ever Puerto Rican male boxer to win titles in four weight divisions.
The historic feat came courtesy of a stunningly one-sided, tenth-round stoppage of Sergio Martinez to claim the WBC and lineal middleweight championship in June 2014 at Madison Square Garden. The bout came on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day parade in New York City, a boxing tradition he and Top Rank launched in 2005. Cotto fought on the weekend five times over the course of his near 17-year career spanning four weight divisions.
Cotto previously won titles at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight, while also part of some of the biggest fights of his generation. Included among the lot were defeats the best two fighters of the 21st century in Floyd Mayweather Jr.—a Class of 2021 inductee—and Manny Pacquiao, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
There were plenty of incredible memories as well for Cotto, though perhaps none more special than receiving the call to the Hall on Tuesday.
“After many years in boxing, I’m so proud of what we have done in the sport,” noted Cotto, who was 20-6 in world title fights. “Above all I was the head of my family and what made me proud as a father was to provide for my family and thanks to boxing I did it in the best way possible.
“It is amazing, but you have to be humble and carry yourself in the best way possible and work hard every day to reach your goals in life. I look forward to being in Canastota next June.”
Albuquerque’s Holm (33-2-3, 9KOs) is elected in her third year on the ballot, having narrowly missed the cut during the first two years (2019 and 2020) that female boxers were eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. Her honor is well-earned, having served as a pound-for-pound queen for much of her welterweight championship reign.
Holm fought as a pro from 2002-2013, almost entirely in her Albuquerque hometown before setting her sights full-time on mixed martial arts. Her combat sports career soared to new heights in 2015 following a second-round knockout of wildly popular Ronda Rousey to win the UFC bantamweight title—becoming the first boxer ever to claim championship status in both boxing and UFC.
The latter has no bearing on her Hall of Fame enshrinement, though it certainly enhances her credentials as an all-time great athlete. Tuesday’s news is the celebration her career long deserved.
“I feel very humbled and honored to be acknowledged amongst the greatest,” noted Holm, now one of six female modern-day boxers in the Hall of Fame. “I’m kind of speechless actually. I’m really excited.”
Halmich (54-1-1, 16KOs) enters as one of the winningest boxers in female boxing history. The three-division standout from Karlsruhe, Germany began as a kickboxer before making her way to the boxing ring where she served as a massive TV draw in her home country.
The lone loss in Halmich’s career came in her ninth pro fight, going unbeaten in 46 fights over a 12-year span before retiring in 2007.
“Wow! What an honor. I’m very, very happy,” noted Halmich, who campaigned at junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight during her 13-plus year career. “My biggest wish was to one day be in the International Boxing Hall of Fame and this is really the biggest honor for me.”
The 2022 induction ceremony will also include honorees from the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. Ceremonies for the latter two were both postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, with the three-class ceremony marking the most memorable Hall of Fame induction weekend since 1990 when the intimate museum opened its doors to the first class of boxing’s all-time greats.