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Boxing Hall of Fame inductees remember Ali

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CANASTOTA, N.Y. — On a day when the boxing world turned its focus to the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, remembering The Greatest was part of the celebration.

Following the national anthem at Sunday’s ceremony, an honorary 10-count was given in honor of the late Muhammad Ali and fellow class of 1990 inductee Bob Foster, who died last November.

“It’s been a very difficult period for me. My dear friend Muhammad Ali passed away,” said Jerry Izenberg, a longtime sports columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger and member of the class of 2016. “He was perhaps one of the greatest, if not the greatest, humanitarians I’ve ever known. I will never forget this moment. I will never forget this day.

“I don’t know that writers belong in the Hall of Fame, but I’m honored. To be here is a gift for me. It’s a marvelous gift.”

Hector Camacho, who overcame the mean streets of Spanish Harlem to become a three-division champion, was among the group enshrined Sunday in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Camacho, who was shot and killed just over three years ago at age 50 in his native Puerto Rico, headed a class that also included two-division champions Lupe Pintor of Mexico and Hilario Zapata of Panama.

Camacho’s son, Hector Camacho Jr., and mother, Maria Matias, accepted the honor.

“What time is it?!” Camacho Jr. asked the crowd, which roared back “Macho time!”

“On my father’s behalf, what I got to witness firsthand was, he poured his heart, blood, everything he had into the sport,” Camacho Jr. said. “A little crazy, you’ve got to admit, but he was a wonderful person and a big-hearted father.”

Inducted in the non-participant and observer categories were: Harold Lederman, a judge for over 30 years; Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission for 14 years; and Col. Bob Sheridan, an international television broadcaster since 1973.

Inductees were selected in December by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.

His lightning-quick hand speed, devastating combinations, and the accuracy of his punches defined Camacho inside the ropes — he won his first 38 pro fights before losing a split decision to Greg Haugen in 1991 — as did his flamboyant style. Few boxers grabbed more attention in the 1980s and 1990s. Camacho retired in 2010 with a record of 79-6-3, with 38 knockouts.

Camacho, who fought drug and alcohol problems for years, was shot in the left side of the face in November 2012 as he sat in a Ford Mustang with a friend outside a bar in his hometown. He died four days later after being taken off life support and is buried at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx.

Pintor, the former WBC bantamweight champion from Mexico, compiled a career record of 56-14-2 with 42 knockouts. He was joined on stage by his son, Lupe Pintor Jr., who translated his speech.

“I’m really honored to represent my country, to be here today with you and to be a part of this Hall of Fame,” Pintor said.

Zapata, the former WBC and WBA flyweight champion from Panama, was born in 1958 in Panama City and began boxing as an amateur in 1974 before making his professional debut in 1977. At 5-foot-7 unusually tall for a 108-pound boxer, the southpaw retired with a pro record of 43-10-1, with 15 knockouts.

“Thank you to the Hall of Fame because God put my name in their minds to have me inducted here today on this special day,” Zapata said through a translator. “Personally, I would like to say, I didn’t fight very much here in the United States, but for those of you who followed my career, thank you, and to everyone in Panama as well.”

Pacquiao plans to return to the ring Nov. 5

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao isn’t ready to give up his night job just yet.

Pacquiao, who said before his last fight in April that he would retire, now plans to return to the ring in November against an opponent who has yet to be selected.

Promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday that Pacquiao got permission to take a break from his new duties as a senator in the Philippines to take another fight. It will be held Nov. 5, likely in Las Vegas.

“He likes to fight and he likes the attention,” Arum said of Pacquiao’s return.

Pacquiao looked impressive in his last fight in April, returning from a layoff to knock down Timothy Bradley on his way to a unanimous decision. After the fight he wavered on his previous plans to retire.

“If you ask me to come back I don’t know,” Pacquiao said. “I may be enjoying retired life. I’m not there yet so I just don’t know.”

Pacquiao, who was formerly a congressman in his native country, was elected to the Senate in May and there were fears that increased duties would prevent him from fighting again.

But Arum said the head of the Senate told Pacquiao he was free to fight after the country’s budget is settled on Oct. 15.

“He would train in the Philippines and leave on the 16th to come to the U.S., train for two weeks and then come to Vegas,” Arum said. “The only issue is getting an arena for the fight.”

Arum said he is talking with MGM Resorts about an arena to host the fight. He had reserved the Mandalay Bay arena for Oct. 15, but Pacquaio can’t leave his Senate duties that early.

The fight also could be at the UNLV campus arena, he said, though UNLV would have to move a scheduled basketball exhibition from the date.

There were reports that Pacquiao might fight Adrien Broner, but Arum said he wanted the same money as Pacquiao, which was a non-starter. Another possible opponent would be Jesse Vargas, who fights for Top Rank, and holds a piece of the welterweight title.

Pacquiao was off for nearly a year after losing in May 2015 to Floyd Mayweather Jr., healing from a shoulder injury. But he seemed reinvigorated after beating Bradley in April in a performance that got good reviews from most, including trainer Freddie Roach.

“When I see Manny Pacquiao like that, this is the best Manny Pacquiao,” Roach said after the fight. “He hasn’t missed a beat. I would like to see him fight again.”

Laila Ali, Jaime Foxx pay tribute to Muhammad Ali

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Laila Ali paid tribute to her late father, sports icon Muhammad Ali, during the BET Awards on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Ali, a retired boxer herself, started to choke up as she spoke about her father’s legacy and the outpouring of support since his death at the age of 74 on June 3 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“My father, Muhammad Ali, lived his life with conviction and purpose,” Ali said. “He is known as the greatest athlete of all time, a man who fearlessly faced opposition both in and outside the ring.”

Actor Jamie Foxx, who starred in the 2001 biopic about the icon’s life, “Ali,” as Ali’s cornerman Drew Bundini Brown, also spoke about the legend, noting that he stood up when no one else was doing so.

After getting a standing ovation, Ali stood in front of a photo of her father holding her as an infant and talked about her father’s evolution in his heart, mind and spirit over the course of his lifetime.

“These past few weeks my father’s generosity and love has been matched by a worldwide outpouring of love and reverence for him and our entire family,” Ali said.

“If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”