In May 2007, Diego Corrales died in a motorcycle accident a few blocks from his Las Vegas home. Though just 29, he has been regarded as one of boxing's most entertaining and enduring competitors.
On Wednesday, Corrales' memory was kept alive with the announcement that he is one of the inaugural inductees into the new Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
The former world lightweight and junior lightweight titleholder was one of 19 named to the Nevada Hall, which will have its official ceremony in August in Las Vegas at a location and date to be determined.
"He would have been so happy with this news," his widow, Michelle, said. "Diego always wanted to be a legend in boxing, and this allows him to stay in the sport, and it's a wonderful way to keep his memory alive."
In 2005, Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo met at Mandalay Bay for the world lightweight championship. After punishing each other for nine-plus rounds, Corrales won by technical knockout in the 10th round. It was voted the 2005 Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America and remains one of this era's best fights.
Corrales, who had a record of 40-5 with 33 KOs, was inducted along with Mike Tyson and Mike McCallum as Nevada Resident Boxers, one of eight categories of inductees announced Wednesday.
"It's wonderful to be included," said McCallum, a former world super welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight champion. "I have spent so much of my life here (in Las Vegas). It's a very important honor."
Boxing broadcaster Rich Marotta, a Reno resident who is the founder and CEO of the Nevada Boxing HOF, said the quality of the inaugural class speaks to the need for such a place of honor.
"What this class says to me is what the thrill and joy of boxing is to the fans of the state of Nevada," Marotta said. "These people have brought a lifetime of memories to the state, and they've all contributed to the good of the sport."
Marotta explained the reason some of the sport's greats, notably Muhammad Ali, were not included in the inaugural class as non-Nevada boxers was because the Hall's committee established a criterion that a fighter must have fought in the state 12 times. Ali fought in Nevada eight times.
Marotta said the Hall is considering adding a Pioneer category to honor fighters such as Ali, Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey, ones who might not qualify in the non-Nevada category but deserve a spot in the Hall for their contributions to the sport.
Several of the inductees are in other boxing halls of fame. Las Vegas' Joe Cortez, one of two referees - the other is Reno's Mills Lane - going into the Nevada Boxing Hall, said while being enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame is a huge honor, being inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall is special.
"There's nothing like being recognized in your own state," Cortez said. "This is a great thing for boxing here in Nevada, and it's a privilege to be going in with such an elite group of people."
Marc Ratner, the former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, who along with Dr. James Nave will be going in as members in the Executive category, said the Hall's formation will help preserve the state's rich history in boxing.
"People sometimes forget how big boxing has been in Nevada, going back to the turn of the 20th century," Ratner said. "I think this is a great way to keep the accomplishments of those involved with the sport alive and honor them."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.