World heavyweight title challenger and two-time New York Golden Gloves champion Lou Savarese (46-7, 38 KOs) is living the dream, as they say, preparing for his upcoming induction into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame (NYSBHOF).
As one of the 28-member Class of 2020, the popular Savarese will be formally inducted at the ninth annual NYSBHOF induction dinner, Sunday afternoon (12:30-5:30 p.m. ET), April 19, at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach, New York.
“I have nothing but the upmost respect and admiration for this year’s Hall of Fame honoree, Lou Savarese,” NYSBHOF president Bob Duffy said. “I couldn’t be happier for this man who has given boxing his all, in and out of the ring. His friends and family know that this honor is well deserved.”
Savarese was a local favorite, born in the Bronx and from Greenwood Lake, who was a two-time New England Golden Gloves champion having fought at the famed Madison Square Garden.
“This is truly amazing,” Savarese spoke about being inducted into the NYSBHOF. “I’m a New York boxing historian, going back to the 1920’s of New York boxing history. It’s so nice to have fought in the best place, New York, the epicenter of boxing.
Savarese turned pro April 30, 1989, knocking out James Smith in the fourth round of their fight in Houston. Savarese went on to win his first won his first 36 pro fights, highlighted by his 36th by a seventh-round technical knockout victory of Buster Mathis, Jr. for the vacant United States Boxing Association (USBA) heavyweight title. It also set up a high profile 1997 showdown with George Foreman in Atlantic City, when Savarese lost a 12-round split decision (114-113, 112-115, 110-118) for the vacant World Boxing Union (WBU) championship.
Savarese says his opening-round knockout of former world heavyweight champion James “Buster” Douglas in 1998 for the International Boxing Association World heavyweight title is his greatest accomplishment in the ring.
“I was a big underdog in the Douglas fight,” Savarese remembered. “He had a good jab. That’s No. 1f or me. Winning my first New York Golden Gloves title (1985 when he stopped Jonathan Hill in the finals) in front of my fans, family and friends was my amateur highlight.”
In addition to the aforementioned IBA World, Savarese also won the WBO Inter-Continental, and IBA Continental championships.
Beside former world champions Douglas and Witherspoon, as well as Mathis Jr., Savarese also defeated world-class heavyweights such as David Bostice, Lance Whitaker and Leo Nolan.
“This is special. I know most of the guys going in and it’s an honor to be amongst them. I fought six world champions (Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Foreman, Witherspoon, Douglas, and Riddick Bowe in the amateurs. Max Kellerman (fellow NYSBHOF Class of 2020 inductee) once said I’m from the old-school of boxing. That’s good, I love that.”
Now 54, Savarese lives in Houston, Texas, where he runs Savarese Promotions, as well as two gyms, in which he trains white-collar boxers. “It’s going to be fun seeing family and friends from back since I first started in boxing,” Savarese concluded. “A ton of people are coming (to the induction dinner), including some from Houston. I turned pro there in 1990, moved back to New York between 2000-2008, and have lived in Houston since then.”
But Lou Savarese will always embody what it is to be a New York boxer.
Other living boxers heading into the NYSBHOF include three-time World light heavyweight title challenger Jorge Ahumada (42-8-2, 22 KOs), of Woodside, Queens by way of Argentina; (1975-78) WBC super featherweight World Champion Alfredo “El Salsero” Escalera (53-14-3, 31 KOs), of New York City by way of Puerto Rico; WBC super featherweight World title challenger Freddie “The Pitbull” Liberatore (20-4-1, 11 KOs), of Bayside, Queens; WBC middleweight World Champion and four-time New York Golden Gloves winner Dennis “The Magician” Milton (16-5-1, 5 KOs), of Bronx; and WBA super middleweight title World title challenger Merqui “El Corombo” Sosa (34-9-2, 27 KOs), of Brooklyn by way of the Dominican Republic.
Posthumous participants being inducted are Brooklyn welterweight Soldier Bartfield (51-29-8, 33 KOs), who fought a reported 55 world champions; Bronx middleweight Steve Belloise (95-13-3, 59 KOs); NYSAC and World lightweight champion (1925) Jimmy Goodrich (85-34-21 (12 KOs), of Buffalo; World heavyweight title challenger Tami Mauriello (82-13-1, 60 KOs), of Bronx; WBA light middleweight World champion (1982-83) and four-consecutive New York Golden Gloves titlist Davey “Sensational” Moore (18-5, 14 KOs), of Bronx; and World lightweight champion Freddie “The Welsh Wizard” Welch (74-5-7, 34 KOs), of New York City by way of Wales.
Living non-participants heading into the NYSBHOF are Oneida judge Don Ackerman, Wantah, Long Island journalist/producer Bobby Cassidy, Jr., Buffalo manager Rick Glaser, Rockaway Beach journalist Jack Hirsch, Bronx boxing broadcaster Max Kellerman, Ardsley ringside physician/NY Medical Director Dr. William Lathan, Orangeburg judge Julie Lederman, Hyde Park referee Ron Lipton, and Staten Island/Catskill trainer Kevin Rooney.
Posthumous non-participant inductees are Brooklyn’s Ring Magazine editor Lester Bromberg, New York City sportswriter Dan Daniel, Brooklyn’s Gleason’s Gym founder Bobby Gleason, Sunnyside, Queens boxing writer Flash Gordan, Manhattan journalist A.J. Liebling, Long Island City’s NYSBHOF co-founder Tony Mazzarella and New York City manager Dan Morgan.
Each attending inductee will receive a custom-designed belt signifying his or her induction into the NYSBHOF.
The 2020 inductees were selected by the NYSBHOF nominating committee members: Randy Gordon, Henry Hascup, Don Majeski, Ron McNair, Jim Monteverde and Neil Terens.
All boxers needed to be inactive for at least three years to be eligible for NYSBHOF induction, and all inductees must have resided in New York State for a significant portion of their boxing careers or during the prime of their respective career.