By Paul Upham: Australia’s three-time world champion Jeff Fenech was elected into the Boxing Hall of Fame on Thursday as part of the Class of 2002 to be honoured during this year’s induction weekend.
“It’s different to winning a world title, but probably the ultimate recognition from the boxing community,” said Fenech.
“To see your own name in the Hall of Fame with the greats of the past really makes all the hard work and sacrifice over the years worthwhile.”
Fenech will be one of only four living members inducted at this year’s ceremony, held between June 6-9 at Canastota in New York, along with heavyweight Ingemar Johansson of Sweden, Mexican welterweight Pipino Cuevas and English journalist Reg Gutteridge.
“I’m only the sixth boxer to be picked in their first year of eligibility, which makes it even more special. To be recognised from so many deserving fighters is an honour,” continued Fenech.
“My good friend Steve Farhood told me the last time I was in the USA that my name was on this years ballot, but it was still a huge surprise to receive a call saying you have been elected to the Hall of Fame.”
After competing at the Olympic games in 1984 at flyweight, where he lost a disputed decision in the third round, Fenech won the IBF bantamweight title in April 1985 in only his seventh fight. He won the WBC junior featherweight crown in May 1987 and the WBC featherweight title in May 1988.
One of Fenech’s best performances came in June 1991 when he drew with the great Azumah Nelson in attempting to win the WBC featherweight title. It was a very controversial outcome; most experts felt that the Australian deserved to win the decision and his fourth world title.
If the best measure of any boxer is to look at the calibre of opponents he has beaten throughout his career, then Fenech is a worthy entry into the Hall of Fame.
Fenech beat the former WBC bantamweight champion Daniel Zaragoza in Perth in April 1986. After the loss, the Mexican would go on to become a three-time WBC junior featherweight world champion.
Marcos Villasana, who Fenech beat with two broken hands in April 1989, was considered to be the No.1 featherweight in the world more than two years later in 1991, having gone on to become WBC featherweight champion.
Jerome Coffee was 25-0 (10 KO’s) and a 1980 USA Golden Gloves champion before being beaten by Fenech in December 1985, while Greg Richardson went on to become WBC bantamweight champion in February 1991 nearly four years after he was beaten by Fenech in July 1987.
Throughout his career Fenech, 28-3-1 (21), battled the pain of badly damaged and brittle hands which would see him on many occasions being unable to spar and train before fights. Now, he has further reward.
“I’m not sure yet whether my children will go to the Induction Ceremony in June because of school, but my wife Suzie, Johnny Lewis and many of my friends will be there. The Induction Weekend will be a very special time for me and I can’t wait,” he finished.