ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Between Bernard Fernandez and Dave Weinberg, they have covered everything in boxing. Fernandez, 70, the esteemed former Philadelphia Daily News boxing writer who retired in 2012, and the highly respected Weinberg, 60, the lead boxing writer for the Atlantic City Press, have combined for over 60 years of boxing coverage between them.
On Sunday, their work was celebrated when the two were inducted as part of the second class of the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (ACBOH) at the Claridge Hotel and Casino.
Fernandez and Weinberg were part of a sterling class that included all-time great Evander Holyfield along with Bobby Czyz, Bruce Seldon, the late Hector Camacho Sr., Jeff Chandler, Vinny Paz, Ray Mercer and Richie Kates. The trainers and cutmen inducted were Carmen Graziano, George Benton and Ralph Citro. In the “Operations” category, Bob Arum, Dan Duva, Diane Fischer-Cristiano and Ed Derian were inducted, and the “Officials” category included Jean Williams, Joe Pasquale and late former heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott. Joining Fernandez and Weinberg in the media department was noted photographer Ray Bailey.
In the “Special Contributors” category, the late José Sulaimán, Marian Muhammad, the late Mark Etess, and yes, President Donald Trump were included.
“This means I’m old,” said Weinberg, laughing. This is the third hall of fame to which he’s been inducted. “This is one is a big deal to me, though, because it is a local organization and it honors the local boxing game in Atlantic City, which has been an important part of my life for 30-plus years.
“The first fight I ever covered was in the early 1980s, on a Tuesday Night Fights. The best fight I ever covered was Gatti-Ward III, because that was an absolute war. The biggest fight was Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks. That sticks out in my mind because of the atmosphere — the energy and sheer excitement of it all. The atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, or anything I’ve ever seen since — and that includes Super Bowls and Indy 500s.
“Tyson-Spinks tops them all.”
As for Fernandez, who began covering boxing exclusively for the Daily News in 1987 and did it until 2012 — he also covered Tyson-Spinks, as well as Tyson-Buster Douglas in Tokyo — making the trek from the Philadelphia suburbs to Atlantic City became so commonplace that he hardly had to turn his car’s steering wheel; it could almost drive itself to AC.
“I’ve been covering boxing for the better part of half my life, but not as a full-time beat until I got to Philadelphia, which I was really excited about because Philadelphia is such a great fight town,” Fernandez said. “They were shifting beats around in 1987 and I was in play for the Eagles and the Flyers, but went to the editor and said, ‘I want to cover boxing.’
“When the beats were switched again, I still remained on boxing. The editors knew no one else wanted it as much as I did. I still cover boxing exclusively, and I’m happy as a clam about it. This is big for me because my son Randy came up from New Orleans for this, and my daughters are here, and my wife, Ann — who if not for her, this wouldn’t be possible — are all here. Having my family here around me means a lot.
“It always means more when good things happened to you when you get to share the moment with people that you care about and who care about you.
“The best fights I’ve covered in Atlantic City is a four-way tie with Arturo Gatti fights — the two with Ivan Robinson and the two Gatti-Micky Ward fights. The biggest fight was easily Tyson-Spinks, because of international and national interest. It wasn’t the best fight, because it lasted 91 seconds.
“I like to tell people the Butch Lewis story. He said that if Boardwalk Hall could seat 120,000 people, they would have fit them all in there. The people who couldn’t get tickets, a lot of them were waiting outside for when the fight was over. They were offering hundreds of dollars for ticket stubs so they could go home and brag to their friends that they had actually been there.
“That was a special moment. I’m glad to see boxing coming back. Atlantic City was most known for those 20 years there as the boxing capital of the world. Maybe Las Vegas had it beat out, but it was in the running. This is a special moment.
“Atlantic City is coming back.”