Evander Holyfield elected to International Boxing HOF, 2017 class

Evander Holyfield, one of boxing's greatest warriors during his legendary 27-year professional career, used dancing as a way to stay in shape and to get ready for fights.

Holyfield has no more fights coming up but he probably spent some time dancing on Tuesday, celebrating that he was among those elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which announced the class of 2017.

Holyfield, a 1984 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, the first undisputed cruiserweight champion, former undisputed heavyweight champion and the only boxer to win a heavyweight title four times, was elected in his first year of eligibility, along with all-time Mexican great Marco Antonio Barrera and the late Johnny Tapia.

They were the three newcomers to the modern category ballot, which was voted on by members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a panel of historians.

They will be enshrined June 11 during the 28th annual induction ceremonies at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. To be eligible, fighters must not have boxed for at least five years.

In the non-participant category, Australian trainer Johnny Lewis, veteran Nevada judge Jerry Roth and the late ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Sr. were elected. In the observer category, longtime Showtime broadcast partners Steve Farhood and Barry Tompkins were elected. The late Eddie Booker, a welterweight and middleweight contender in the 1940s and '50s, was elected in the old timer category.

"I'm honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and I'd just like to thank Jesus for giving me the tenacity to not quit," Holyfield said.

A hugely popular fighter, Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs), known as "The Real Deal," will undoubtedly be the star of induction weekend. He fought from 1984 to 2011 and was involved in many of the biggest fights of his time against other Hall of Famers, including a legendary trilogy with Riddick Bowe and two upset victories against Mike Tyson, the second of which famously cost him a chunk of his ear when Tyson bit it off in a disqualification loss.

"What can you say when you've done what I've done? It do speak for itself. I had a good amateur career, became the first undisputed cruiserweight champ of the world and then undisputed heavyweight champ," Holyfield told ESPN upon learning that he was on the ballot. "I fought them all. I fought everyone who was the best at my time of boxing and did real well. If you're the best you're going to be in the Hall of Fame.

"I fought everybody. I didn't make up excuses on why I shouldn't fight this guy or that guy. I fought everyone I was supposed to. I'm glad I played by the rules and became the champ. I fought and did my very best."

Holyfield also scored significant wins against Hall of Famer Dwight Muhammad Qawi to win his first cruiserweight world title in an epic 15-rounder in 1986; Buster Douglas to win the undisputed heavyweight championship in 1990; aging Hall of Famers George Foreman and Larry Holmes in title defenses and Michael Moorer to avenge a loss and unify two titles, not to mention wins against Ray Mercer, Michael Dokes, John Ruiz and Hasim Rahman.

Barrera (67-7, 44 KOs), known as the "Baby Faced Assassin," became one of the greatest fighters in Mexico's rich boxing history during his 1989 to 2011 career. Barrera won world titles at junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight and engaged in many memorable fights.

"This is the best news for me," Barrera said. "I'm very happy to hear this news that I have been inducted into the Hall of Fame and I am excited to go to Canastota."

Barrera won an all-time great trilogy 2-1 against bitter rival and countryman Erik Morales. Their first fight in 2000, a junior featherweight unification bout Barrera lost by split decision, is regarded as one of the greatest fights in history. The first and third bouts were widely considered the fight of the year in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

Barrera's biggest win, however, was clear decision in a major upset against Hall of Famer "Prince" Naseem Hamed in 2001. Barrera also beat well-known opponents such as Tapia, Paulie Ayala, Kevin Kelley, Rocky Juarez (twice) and Kennedy McKinney, in a raging 1996 junior featherweight title fight that was one of the best of the decade.

Tapia (59-5-2, 30 KOs), who led a troubled life of addiction and depression before his death at age 45 in 2012, still managed to win five world titles at junior bantamweight, bantamweight and featherweight during his 1988 to 2011 career. He put on many entertaining fights despite his constant personal turmoil and many consider him the best junior bantamweight in the history of the weight class.

Known as "Mi Vida Loca" ("My Crazy Life"), Tapia won his first junior bantamweight title in 1994 and made 13 defenses, including the biggest win of his career, a decision in a unification bout with bitter crosstown Albuquerque, New Mexico, rival Danny Romero that was so divisive in their community that it wound up being held in Las Vegas because of security concerns in their hometown.

Teresa Tapia, Johnny's wife and manager, was appreciative of his election.

"I'm going to use his words," she said. "What he used to say is, it doesn't matter how many times you fall, it's how many times you pick yourself up to be successful."

Lewis has trained many of Australia's top fighters for five decades. He trained Hall of Famers Jeff Fenech, a three-division champion, and former junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu as well as American Virgil Hill, who won titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight.

"What an honor. It's something you never think is going to be bestowed upon someone and when it is, it's just a wonderful feeling not only for yourself, but for your family and the guys that were responsible for that happening and they were the fighters," Lewis said.

Roth was long one of boxing's most respected judges, working for the Nevada State Athletic Commission from 1980 to 2015. He judged more than 200 world title bouts. Some of the more famous fights he was assigned included Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.-Meldrick Taylor I, Roy Jones Jr.-James Toney, Tapia-Romero, Jones-Ruiz, Holyfield-Foreman, Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya, Barrera-Morales III, Lennox Lewis-Holyfield II and all three Bowe-Holyfield fights.

"It feels terrific," Roth said of his election. "I can't describe it. I'm absolutely thrilled. I did a lot of title fights over the years - over 200. I'm thrilled."

Farhood and Tompkins, elected in their first year on the observer ballot, are well-known to boxing fans as broadcast partners on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" series.

Besides his award-winning broadcast work, Farhood is a noted boxing historian, founded the old KO magazine in 1980 and was editor-in-chief of The Ring magazine from 1989 to 1997.

"This is highest honor I could possibly receive," Farhood said. "I have such respect for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I've been a visitor so many times but next year will be special for obvious reasons. It serves as validation for a career that has been boxing, and pretty much nothing but boxing, for almost 40 years. I am truly touched and honored and I can't wait until June."

Tompkins also had a long run as the blow-by-blow announcer for HBO during the 1980s and called numerous big fights, including famed calls on Sugar Leonard-Thomas Hearns I, Leonard- Hagler, Hagler-Hearns and Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello I.

"To be recognized by the boxing community in general and by my peers in the media in particular is the highest compliment I could be given as a broadcaster," Tompkins said. "You want the respect of your peers and that's what I've always strived for. I couldn't be happier."

Lennon was one of boxing's most famous ring announcers for decades, mainly on the West Coast. He died in 1992 but appeared on the ballot for the first time this year, three years after his son, Jimmy Lennon Jr., who followed in his footsteps, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"I think it is so extremely meaningful for my family," Lennon Jr. said. "My mom was brought to tears when she heard that he was nominated. She is 94 years old now and I guarantee you she is going to be at the ceremony with so much pride. Our whole family will. We are thrilled and honored."

"Black Dynamite" Booker (66-5-8, 34 KOs), who boxed from 1935 to 1944, was one of the many black fighters denied opportunities because of his color. He never got to fight for a world title but he knocked out the great Hall of Famer Archie Moore in their third fight (after twice battling him to a draw) and also defeated Hall of Famers Holman Williams (going 1-1-1) and Lloyd Marshall.