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Articles of 2002

JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER?

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Several days ago, in something that has heretofore gone largely unreported, the California State Attorney General's office, acting pursuant to consultation with the athletic commission, agreed to return a sanctioning fee that was withheld from the World Boxing Association for the Eric Morel-Denkaosan Kaovichit fight which was held in Anaheim on October 12. And my understanding is that as far as they're concerned, they couldn't have done it fast enough.

When you come to think of it, while some could argue with conviction that there was some moral authority for California to have taken its original action, there was really no legal authority.

Why?

The answer – if you look closely enough – is in a letter Tim Lueckenhoff sent to United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, dated October 11:

The Honorable John Ashcroft

Attorney General

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Re: Violation of the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996.

Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:

As President of the Association of Boxing Commissions, an organization that represents 46 state and 8 tribal boxing commissions across the United States it is my duty to report to you a situation involving the World Boxing Association, WBA, which I believe to be a violation of Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 (PBSA) and its subsequent amendments contained in the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.

The PBSA specifically states that;

Appeals Process – “a sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation, directly, or indirectly, in connection with a boxing match, until it provides the boxers with notice that the sanctioning organization shall, within 7 days after receiving a request from a boxer questioning that organization's ratings of the boxer.

(1) provide to the boxer a written explanation of the organization's criteria, its rating of the boxer, and the rationale or basis for its ratings (including a response to any specific questions submitted by the boxer); and

(2) submit a copy of its explanation to the Association of Boxing Commissions.”

As you will note from the attached documents heavyweight boxer Kirk Johnson appealed to the WBA for an explanation regarding his reduction in the rankings. Mr. Johnson has not received a written explanation was outlined in the above federal law. The Association of Boxing Commission also, has not received a copy of the explanation.

The federal law specifically states that:

“Whenever the Attorney General of the United States has reasonable cause to believe that a person is engaged in a violation of this chapter, the Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States requesting such relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order or other order, against the person, as the Attorney General determines to be necessary to restrain the person from continuing to engage in, sanction, promote or otherwise participate in a professional boxing match in violation of this chapter.”

Therefore, I would request that your office investigates this matter thoroughly and prosecute this matter to the full extent of the law. Violations of this law should not be allowed to continue. If your office should need any additional information, please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Timothy J. Lueckenhoff

President, ABC

CC:    Michael Chertoff

    Assistant Attorney General

    Criminal Division

    ABC Membership

I agree with Mr. Lueckenhoff – violations of the law should not be allowed to continue, including those committed, or which may have been committed, by organizations like the NABF, WBO, IBA, WBF and others. I imagine I should expect more letters will subsequently be written to Ashcroft which will cover those transgressions.

Oops, I forgot – this is Chapter 72 already. By this time, you're much too smart to believe something like that.

Regardless – notice the paragraph from Lueckenhoff's letter where he quoted directly from the Professional Boxer Safety Act –

“Whenever the Attorney General of the United States has reasonable cause to believe that a person is engaged in a violation of this chapter, the Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States requesting such relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order or other order, against the person, as the Attorney General determines to be necessary to restrain the person from continuing to engage in, sanction, promote or otherwise participate in a professional boxing match in violation of this chapter.”

Well, the truth of the matter is that the Attorney General of the United States had NOT issued a restraining order, a civil action, or any other sort of measure against the WBA. Therefore, there would seem to be no legal justification for withholding the WBA's sanctioning fee, at least at that moment, until the organization was given some sort of DUE PROCESS. Yet, action had already been taken on the part of California to withhold those fees, before the U.S. Attorney General's office was even made aware of the WBA situation.

The preceding day, Lueckenhoff had sent a letter to Gilberto Mendoza of the WBA:

Mr. Menzdoza (sic),

This shall serve as official notice that the Association of Boxing Commissions lends its entire support to the California State Athletic Commission regarding their decision to withhold the WBA's sanction fee on an upcoming WBA World Title fight, until your organization answers Mr. Kirk Johnson's appeal regarding him being lowered in your rankings. Many individuals who have followed this

situation believe your organization has violated the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996.

At the present time, I am drafting correspondence to be sent to the United States Attorney General asking that action be taken against the WBA for this alleged violations. I encourage you to provide Mr. Johnson with his well deserved explanation for his reduction in the rankings.

Sincerely,

Tim Lueckenhoff President, ABC

He copied this letter to the entire ABC membership, with the following note attached:

“I just sent this email to Gilberto Mendoza President of the WBA and Rob Lynch. Rob deserves to be commended for his commission's actions.”

Well, it was nice for “official notice” to come from the ABC that the WBA's sanctioning fees were being denied to them. Not that Lueckenhoff, who isn't a California state official, a Deputy Attorney General, a prosecutor, or a United State legislator, but merely the president of a trade association – had any official connection with the situation to begin with. And if indeed he interpreted that he was acting in an “official” capacity on this issue, was it not a clear misinterpretation of his duties, seeing as he had convicted the organization without a trial being held, or a charge officially brought?

Perhaps Lueckenhoff would have been better advised to caution California against taking premature action until a response had been received from Ashcroft's office, in accordance with federal law.

Funny thing is, the WBA was made aware of the fact that the state of California had withheld its sanctioning fee from every source imaginable – EXCEPT the state of California.

Witness this letter sent by attorney Bob Mack, representing the WBA, to Rob Lynch of the California commission:

November 6, 2002

Mr. Rob Lynch, Executive Officer

California Athletic Commission

1424 Howe Ave., Suite 33

Sacramento, CA 95825-3217

Re: World Boxing Association Sanction Fee

Dear Mr. Lynch:

   

This letter is written on behalf of the World Boxing Association (WBA) regarding press reports that the California State Athletic Commission has decided to withhold, or has actually withheld, a sanctioning fee due the WBA for a world title boxing match conducted in the State of California on Saturday, October 12, 2002.

   

First, to our knowledge no official communication has been received from the California State Athletic Commission by us in any form regarding such a decision. Our knowledge is based on press reports, and copies of e-mails sent to us by third parties.

   

If such a decision has been made, I would appreciate the California Athletic Commission communicating the decision, its basis, and other related information to us as soon as possible. I would also like confirmation from the Commission as to the amount of the sanctioning fee being withheld (if it is in fact being withheld), the depository in which it is being withheld, and some reference to the authority and facts on which the State Commission relied in its decision to withhold the sanctioning fee.

   

In an article dated October 10, 2002 on Fightnews.com, a Mr. Dean Lohuis was quoted as follows: “We are going to withhold the sanctioning fees until they respond,…” The “they” in his quotation was a reference to the WBA and the phrase “until they respond” related apparently to the WBA's response to correspondence received from Mr. Dino Duva. The article specifically stated as follows: “According to California's chief inspector, Dean Lohuis, the money will be held in escrow until the WBA either explains or changes their ratings.”

   

Furthermore, in an e-mail sent to the WBA executive director on October 9, Mr. Tim Lueckenhoff stated that the California Commission had made a “decision to withhold the WBA's sanction fee…until your organization answers Mr. Kirk Johnson's appeal regarding him being lowered in your ranking.”

   

To my knowledge, at no time did any officer or employee of the California State Athletic Commission request any information from the WBA regarding this matter. Apparently, all of its knowledge of this matter was obtained secondhand by officers or employees of the Association of Boxing Commissions, who also made no contact with the WBA to determine the accuracy of any of the information upon which your apparent decision was based.

   

Please be informed that the ratings committee of the WBA met in New York City on October 15, 2002 to discuss the rating of Mr. Kirk Johnson in the number 10 position of the heavyweight division for the August ratings, which had been announced in early September. After that rating had been announced, the WBA received an unsigned communication from Mr. Dino Duva, a copy of which is attached. The communication did not specifically request any of the information set out in 15 U.S.C.S. §6307c(b), or that such information be transmitted by copy to the Association of Boxing Commissions. The attached letter, on the other hand, stated as follows: “Please advise immediately regarding this situation. I would appreciate it if you can contact or call me immediately to discuss.” In response, the executive director of the WBA e-mailed Mr. Duva, informing him that the WBA had “decided to hold a public hearing on October 16 at New York City in a venue to be announced.” The e-mail further stated that the ranking movements would be explained at the meeting and that all affected boxers would be allowed “the opportunity to appeal” at that hearing.

   

In response to the October 3 e-mail of Mr. Mendoza, Mr. Duva, rather than stating that an explanation at the October 16 meeting would be unsatisfactory and that, instead, his letter had intended to request the sort of information set out in 15 U.S.C.S. §6307c(b), asked for the specific place and time of the meeting. The WBA promptly responded.

   

At the October 16 meeting in New York City, the WBA announced that, for various reasons, it had granted what had been referred to as an “appeal” of Mr. Duva on behalf of Mr. Kirk Johnson, and was vacating the ratings that had been announced earlier in September. The executive director of the WBA, at the same meeting, explained the reasons for the ratings, which were now vacated, and also announced new ratings. At the same meeting, Mr. Duva stated that his unsigned letter of September 24, 2002 was a request for information, but was not an “appeal”, even though a specific and clear request for information, if it follows the requirements of 15 U.S.C.S. §6307c(b), is described by the federal act itself under the subsection entitled “Appeals Process.”

   

Regardless, the WBA responded to Mr. Duva's “appeal” by granting it and vacating the rating to which it had objected. The WBA also provided an explanation of the vacated rating, even though it had not received, in proper form, a request for such information. Not only did the California State Athletic Commission and the Association of Boxing Commissions not request from the WBA any information regarding this matter before the October 16 meeting, but, to my knowledge, neither the Commission nor the Association has requested any information from the WBA regarding its handling of the matter.

   

It is unfortunate when a government agency engages in a “rush to judgment.” It is even more unfortunate when that rush to judgment is based on incorrect information, and where there has been no attempt whatever to obtain the correct information from those who have it.

   

I have examined the federal statute, the state statutes under which your Commission operates, and your own rules and regulations, and can find no authority for the withholding of a sanction fee by your Commission under these facts. The federal statute does not authorize you to withhold such a fee under these facts. Mr. Kirk Johnson was not a participant in the boxing match for which you withheld the fees, nor was Mr. Kirk Johnson ever re-rated so as to be removed from “the top 10 boxers” in his division, and therefore no provision of 15 U.S.C.S. §6307c was violated in this matter. Furthermore, the WBA has not violated any of the provisions of 15 U.S.C.S. §6307d, and therefore is “entitled to receive” its fees related to the match held in California on October 12, 2002. The WBA intends to act in compliance with all applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. We ask that you also do so.

   

I would appreciate a prompt response.

Sincerely,

SMITH ALLING LANE, P.S.

Robert E. Mack

REM:cjs

Enclosure

cc:    Mr. Tim Lueckenhoff

    Hon. John McCain

    World Boxing Association

On the same day, there was this letter that was sent directly to Lueckenhoff:

November 6, 2002

VIA FACSIMILE – 573-751-5649

Mr. Tim Lueckenhoff, President

Association of Boxing Commissions

Missouri Office of Athletics

P.O. Box 1335

Jefferson City, MO 65102

Dear Mr. Lueckenhoff:

   

On October 9, 2002, you sent an e-mail to Mr. Gilberto Mendoza of the World Boxing Association stating that it was an “official notice that the Association of Boxing Commissions lends its entire support to the California State Athletic Commission regarding their decision to withhold the WBA's sanction fee on an upcoming WBA World Title fight, until your organization answers Mr. Kirk Johnson's appeal regarding him being lowered in your rankings.”

   

At a public hearing on Wednesday, October 16, 2002, in New York City, the WBA announced that it had granted what you referred to as Mr. Johnson's “appeal” and had vacated his earlier announced lowered rating. Furthermore, at the same hearing, the WBA stated its reasons for the now vacated rating, and announced new rankings for the heavyweight division. I have attached a copy of a letter sent to the California State Athletic Commission, setting out in greater detail the precise facts of this matter. In what appears to be a hasty and ill-informed rush to judgment on the part of the “Many individuals” referred to in your letter, apparently the California officials have acted on incomplete or incorrect information, without any serious attempt to determine the accuracy or validity of their opinions.

   

Your e-mail also stated that “I am drafting correspondence to be sent to the United States Attorney General asking that action be taken against the WBA for this alleged violations.” As set out in my letter to the California Commission, there were no violations of the federal act, and your assumptions that there were are totally incorrect and mistaken.

   

I have also reviewed a copy of a letter from Senator John McCain, the Attorney General, dated October 11, 2002. Senator McCain's letter apparently has relied on information provided by you or your organization to him, and is also mistaken in important and material respects. The WBA would hope that you and your organization would act responsibly and then only after attempting to obtain and receiving all the necessary information that would assist you if a similar situation were to arise.

   

Not only did the WBA do what you requested in your e-mail, that is, “provide Mr. Johnson with…[an] explanation for his reduction in the rankings”, the WBA also granted what you described as his “appeal,” and vacated the ratings to which he had objected. Its disposition of the Kirk Johnson matter therefore has resolved the “appeal” regarding rating. Your request that Mr. Johnson be provided an “explanation for his reduction in the rankings” also has been satisfied.

   

Federal and state government officials should be expected to exercise their authority and considerable influence responsibly and prudently. In any situation that may arise in the future regarding appeals of ratings, we respectfully request that you make every reasonable attempt to obtain reliable information before accusing this organization of violations of federal statute and exhorting the United States Attorney General to bring legal action against this organization.

Sincerely,

SMITH ALLING LANE, P.S.

Robert E. Mack

REM:cjs

Enclosure

cc:    World Boxing Association

    Hon. John McCain

What's my evaluation of all this?

We have nothing against the Ali Act being enforced. But, the Act itself is nebulous, and open to wide interpretation.

As it says in Section 11 of the Ali Act –

“A sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, in connection with a boxing match, until, with respect to a change in the rating of a boxer previously rated by such organization in the top 10 boxers, the organization –

(1) posts a copy, WITHIN 7 DAYS OF SUCH CHANGE, on its Internet website or home page, if any, including an explanation of such change, for a period of not less than 30 days.”

Of course, as was discussed in

Chapter 26

, you could take this rule to mean that if an organization DIDN'T take someone out of its top ten, it wouldn't apply. I preferred to look at what the SPIRIT of the law was. Still, the NABF example was different, in that it had actually stripped a champion of a title, which creates a definitive line of demarcation in terms of the earning ability of a fighter – relatively speaking, a sizeable difference, I'm guessing, between being the NABF champ and an NABF challenger.

Even so, you really can't blame Lueckenhoff, Jack “Minister of Main” Kerns, and the rest of the ABC hierarchy if they are upset. It's not a bad thing that they are angered when they see an injustice. And there was no real plausible explanation for the arbitrary movement of some of the fighters in the WBA's September heavyweight ratings (although, as Mack mentioned, those ratings were later “vacated”). But the problem is that the ABC's attempt at enforcement here was an arbitrary act in and of itself. It was also “selective” in nature. If you're going to call people out on the Ali Act or the Professional Boxer Safety Act, you've got to do so with the same resolve across the board – not just in those circumstances where it will bring the most headlines.

If the ABC wants to advocate holding back sanctioning fees when it suspects a violation of the Ali Act, then it should try to get the law changed to require that those fees be held in escrow, pending civil or criminal actions brought by the U.S. Attorney General's office, or a state's attorney general, within a reasonable period of time. Of course, as we know by now, what makes it problematic is that action may NEVER be taken. Therein lies another inherent difficulty.

No one enforces the Ali Act, or the Professional Boxer Safety Act. You've heard John McCain talk about it. Lueckenhoff admitted as much at the Senate “hearing” back in May. And I guess that's enough to make someone want to take action that might be considered inappropriate. It goes without saying that I myself have written at times as if I were judge, jury, and executioner.

But then again, when you're making your living off taxpayer dollars you can't be caught taking the law into your own hands.

Somewhere along the way, one has to ask the question as to why the laws aren't enforced properly.

One part of the answer is somewhat obvious – no one really cares enough. After all, Ashcroft would seem to be busy enough worrying about terrorists. Why int he world should he be worried about boxing?

Also, though, there's no AWARENESS of the law. And the blame for that has to be laid at someone's feet. Whose feet, you might ask? Well, I'll give you folks an opportunity to answer that on your own. I'd be interested in hearing your responses.

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002

$*%@#!

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Walk the dog, stroll through the park, have a picnic at the lake.
There are safer things for IBF cruiserweight champ Vassily Jirov to do this month than defend his title against James “Lights Out” Toney.
Barbecue, play softball, fish, visit the zoo. Thank his lucky stars.
Jirov, who lives in California, won’t be fighting Toney on HBO on Jan. 25.
Something to do with his insides.
Ask Toney why Jirov pulled out of their fight and he’ll tell you it was Jirov’s heart that let him down, his backbone that went soft, not his banged-up ribs. Ask Toney and he’ll tell you about heartbreak and lies and revenge and fighting anybody in the universe if it means another title. Jirov claims he suffered the damage while sparring. Maybe. But it’s the fourth time Jirov has found a reason not to fight Toney. How many times you got to be told to go home before you realize the guy doesn’t want to come outside and play? How many times you got to be bit by the same dog before you realize it wants to be left alone? Jirov has more excuses than a politician caught with a hooker on his lap.
In his own eloquent way, Toney recently described how disappointed he was in the cancellation of their title fight on the undercard of the Vernon Forrest – Ricardo Mayorga welterweight title fight.
“The @#%$%*&#@,’’ Toney said after learning of the postponement on Christmas Eve. “Jirov can @&%$#% and then he can @%$#@#$. He’s nothing but a #$%#@#.’’ That said, it doesn’t brighten up the New Year in the Toney household.
“I’m done with it,’’ said Toney, sounding like a guy who finally gets tried of being stood up by the same girl.
As of Dec. 30, there was still no word of an opponent for Toney, though he’s still making regular trips to the gym.
Merry Christmas, James. Have a Happy New Year.
“Bah, humbug,’’ said Toney’s promoter Dan Goossen. “We didn’t have much of a Christmas. I got the news on Christmas Eve. But you just have to bounce back.’’ Funny thing about fighters. Some make excuses, some fight through them. You get the feeling Toney could have cracked five ribs and his right tibia and still climbed into the ring against Jirov.
It raises a lot of questions. What’s Jirov got against fighting? After a busy 2001, he hasn’t fought since last February. How do you hold a title after you’ve gone into retirement? Just who is this guy and why does he like to hide? Is there really a Vassily Jirov out there, or is he a creation of the IBF, a shadowy figure who won the title and decided it was too big a risk to keep defending it? The bottom line is, Toney may be left with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands if they don’t find him another fight, though he knew better than to mark the date on his calendar in ink. There are no promises in boxing. When dealing with a guy like Jirov, all bets are off. But Toney can still hope. The name O’Neil Bell – the WBC’s No. 1 challenger – has been knocked around, and Toney said he doesn’t care what contender or champion he knocks out on Jan. 25. “#@#$%$#,’’ Toney said.
You can say that again.

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Articles of 2002

New Year's Resolutions

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A new year is upon us, which means it's time for new years resolutions. Yeah, never mind that most resolutions are broken, oh, around the third week of January; everybody still makes them.

Here are my resolutions that I'd make for some of the luminaries in the sport of boxing.

* Floyd Mayweather: No more excuses. Anyone else sick of listening to 'the Pretty Boy' whine about what ailments he came into the fight with? Whether it's his fragile hands, a bum shoulder or his squabbles with his promoter Bob Arum, he always has an alibi. Hey Floyd, nobody cares, you get paid plenty to perform and those that buy tickets don't care that you might have a hangnail; they want nothing but the best effort out of you.

Mayweather reminds me of former Los Angeles Dodger slugger Mike Marshall, who's second home seemed to be the disabled list. The bottom line is this guy is lucky to be a boxer where he only has to perform once every 6 months- he simply couldn't handle the rigors of an NBA, NFL or baseball season. Ask any athlete if they are ever 100-percent healthy after the first day of training camp or spring training and they'll laugh at you.

Injuries and ailments are a part of the job, overcoming them is what makes a true professional. Mayweather still hasn't grasped that concept.

* Jim Gray: Respect. I guess this little weasel is whom Aretha Franklin was talking about in her song. Think about it, have you ever seen a guy be so disrespectful to fighters in post-fight interviews like this guy. Don't even mention HBO's Larry Merchant- he isn't afraid to ask the tough questions like a true journalist and he's consistent. Gray looks at boxing as a secondary gig and looks down on boxers in general.

Don't believe me? Just compare and contrast his softball interviews that he does for NBC and the hatchet jobs he does on Showtime.

* Max Kellerman: No more over-hyping New York boxers. Look, I get along and respect Max, but when you look up the term 'East Coast Bias' in Webster's, his picture may be used as the definition of it. From Zab Judah to James Butler and to Tokumbo Olajide, he'll have you enshrined in Canastota if you come out of the Big Apple.

What's worse are the excuses he'll come up with for his New Yorkers when they fall on their faces. Max is great for boxing but he's gotta realize New York hasn't been a player on the boxing scene for at least 20 years.

* Crocodile: A new catchphrase. You know Crocodile, right? He was Mike Tyson's hype-man for all these years…the guy with the menacing shades and the army fatigues who used to scream, “GUERILLA WARFARE” at the top of his lungs over and over again.

I've heard that enough and it's about as played out as 'Whoop, there it is' and it's time he came up with a new one. All the great ones can add to their repertoire.

* HBO: Admit they acknowledge the titles. Stop being the Hypocritical Boxing Organization and just stop saying that you don't recognize these organizations. The latest example of their double-talk? Well, for years they dogged John Ruiz and his WBA title, suddenly Roy Jones challenges Ruiz and HBO is hyping this up as some sort of historic challenge of a light heavyweight trying to capture a heavyweight title.
Yeah, the same title they had basically trashed for years.

* Joe Cortez: No more over-officiating. His line is that,' He's firm but he's fair'. I'd argue about that the last couple of years but my biggest gripe with him is that he seems to make himself waaaaay too visible during fights and gets too involved. Nobody is there to watch him and he should just let the fighters fight.
Too often I see these fights with Cortez lose their flow as Cortez continually interrupts the action with his admonishments and warnings. Joe, take a step back and let us watch what we came to see.

* Don Turner: Stop living off of Holyfield-Tyson I- If you ever talk to this guy, he'll talk as though he invented boxing. And his big coup was co-training Evander Holyfield against Mike Tyson. 'The Real Deal' upset Tyson and suddenly Turner was being hailed as the new Chappie Blackburn and he became a media darling.

My question is this, did he suddenly teach Holyfield how to fight 35 fights into his career? Also, I contend that my mother and I could work Holyfield's corner and he would whip Tyson everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. And ask yourself this, when was the last time he was in the winning corner for a big fight?

* Newspaper writers: Start crediting the Internet. Ok, this is a sore subject with me, but too many times I've seen stories from the major newspaper scribes who amazingly have stories that are eerily similar to stories that I've read on the internet (or that I've written myself) and use quotes that I got in one-on-one interviews and they don't attribute their sources- the internet.

When I take quotes or info from a story I make a point to give credit where it's due. Now, I just wish these guys would do the same.

* Roy Jones: no more hip-hop entrances. Roy, you're a magnificently gifted prizefighter, you can also play just a bit of hoops, but your rhyming skills are that of Shaquille O'Neal. In other words, you're doing street nursery rhymes not Nas.

Please, oh please, stop embarrassing yourself and the sport with your cheesy as nacho's attempt to become a hip-hop performer. His last entrance/performance reminded me of one of those really bad Sir-Mix-Alot videos of the early 90's.

* Panama Lewis: an exit out of the game. You remember Lewis right, the guy who gave Aaron Pryor the mysterious white bottle before the 14th round of his bout against Alexis Arguello, which seemed to give 'the Hawk' a sudden burst of energy that enabled Pryor to brutally KO Arguello. Afterwards, Pryor would skip out on his post-fight drug test.

Then there was the fight with Luis Resto, where he would tamper with his gloves between rounds, and bearing the brunt of this tomfoolery was Billy Collins who's faced was turned into a bloody mess. Collins, in the aftermath of this brutality committed suicide. For this, Lewis was banned permanently from working a corner. But that doesn't mean that he can't go into the gym and train fighters and even attend fights.

The bottom line is simple, this man has no place in the game of boxing and boxing shouldn't tolerate him in any way.

* Cedric Kushner: no more gimmicks. This guy has tried everything from the disastrous 'ThunderBox' to one-day $100,000 heavyweight tournaments- and all have failed miserably.

He can put on a boxing version of 'Survivor' or 'Real World' if he wants but the reality is, boxing fans want good fights and interesting fighters, nothing more, nothing less.

Stop with the shenanigans and stop with the junk.

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Articles of 2002

Dream Fights of 2003

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Hey, we can all dream, right? Isn't it our God-given right as boxing fans to think about fights that should happen – but often times don't?

And not just fights that have the highest profile or the biggest names – because sometimes those fights, like Lewis vs. Tyson – are nothing more than high-profile mismatches. I'm talking about fights that are evenly matched between the game's best and are the most intriguing inside the ring.

Here are some fights I'd pay to see in the upcoming year; full well knowing that most of these fights are pipe dreams as the business end of the sport would bog these fights down quickly. But hey, we can dream right?

* Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera: Name me another fighter that has never won a world title belt that is better than Marquez? You can't and this guys been ducked and dodged long enough. On February 1st he takes on Manuel Medina for the vacant IBF featherweight title and it says here that he should face one of the game's best known 126-pounders, either Morales or Barrera. Marquez is a master boxer with great counter-punching skills and his hand-speed would give either one of his Mexican compatriots fits. There are some in the industry who have been saying for a while that Marquez is already the game's premiere featherweight; I'm not inclined to disagree that strongly.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: With Barrera, not good, as Ricardo Maldonado sees no real upside in this match-up and would most likely take an easier fight on HBO for about the same amount of money he could make facing Marquez.

With Morales, the logistics are much less complicated. Both of them are promoted by Bob Arum and there is some talk that they could face each other in May if a Morales-Barrera III isn't made.

* Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones: Not only because it's a match-up of two of the very premiere fighters in the world, but Hopkins needs to resume his career with some meaningful fights and Jones should be fighting guys like 'the Executioner' instead of participating in novelty acts like his proposed bout with John Ruiz.

And don't think for one minute that this would be a blowout. Jones couldn't blowout a green Hopkins in 1993 and won't be able to do it now. Hopkins, unlike most of Jones' opponents, isn't in total awe of Pensacola's finest.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not good, Sharon and Arafat will find a common ground regarding the Middle East before these two proud and stubborn men find one in contract negotiations.

* Oscar De La Hoya vs. Vernon Forrest: For fans of pure boxing and strategy this is a fight that can't be missed. Both men have strong jabs and match-up well physically. 'The Golden Boy' has the better left hook and 'The Viper' has a more effective right hand. Between these two well-schooled boxers you can expect a tense and tight boxing match with subtle momentum swings round by round.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: For 2003, not very good because it looks like Oscar will be fighting once in the upcoming year – a September rematch against Shane Mosley – and Bob Arum has stated that Forrest simply brings nothing to the table promotionally. This can be interpreted as another way of saying that he's not Latin, too dangerous or just another black fighter who can't sell a ticket. The bottom line seems to be that unless Forrest raises his profile in the upcoming years, De La Hoya will be facing guys that make economic sense.

* Floyd Mayweather vs. Kostya Tszyu: This would be a face off of the sport's premier lightweight against the game's best jr. welterweight. 'The Pretty Boy' would bring speed, quickness and boxing ability to the dance. While Tszyu would bring a decided edge in strength, size and punching power. They say styles make fights and you have two contrasting ones here.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not likely. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Vlad Wharton who promotes Tszyu, is seemingly deathly afraid to take any risks with Tszyu, who's basically his cash cow. Secondly, Mayweather got a reality check from his two bouts with Jose Luis Castillo, who at 135 pounds was able to muscle him throughout their 24 rounds they fought in 2002. And Tszyu is faster, sharper and just as strong as Castillo. I'm not sure Mayweather is in any rush to make the move up to 140-pounds.

* Lennox Lewis vs. Wladimir Klitschko: The industry is always better off when there is action in the heavyweight division. So why even mess around by having Lewis take on 'the other' Klitschko or knock out Tyson again; getting right in there with the man most pundits are claiming is the heir to his throne in Wlad Klitschko?

The time is now, Lewis is getting up there in age and really doesn't have that much left in his gas tank anyway and it would be prudent for him to face Klitschko now before he gets any better. Remember, that's the tact they took in facing Michael Grant when they did – but it has to be noted that Klitschko is much better than Grant.

Lewis would have the advantages in experience and savvy, but for one of the few times in his career he would be facing a disadvantage in size and perhaps power. The two best big men on the planet squaring off, what else could you ask for?

CHANCES OF HAPPENING: Actually pretty good, since Lewis himself has stated his plans to take on both Klitschkos in between his rematch with Tyson. But with Don King now making a full court press to garner the services of Lewis, who knows what direction he goes to now.

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