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Articles of 2004

Ready To Shine – An Interview with Syd Vanderpool

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This Saturday outdoors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Canada’s Syd ‘The Jewel’ Vanderpool takes on Jeff ‘Left Hook’ Lacy for the right to call himself the IBF Super Middleweight Champion.

Vanderpool is a 37-fight veteran from Kitchener, Ontario and is on the cusp of his first major title in his 11 year career. While he was the NABO Middleweight title-holder for a short spell and lost a tough 12-round battle to middleweight king Bernard Hopkins, he is a natural 168-pound fighter and finally has his crack at the big-time. With victories over top fighters such as title challenger Jaffa Ballogou, Tito Mendoza and Glencoffe Donovan Johnson – better known as the latest man to knockout Roy Jones Jr. – Vanderpool has been the gatekeeper at Super Middleweight for many years, and now he wants in.

Syd was kind enough to take some time out of his hectic training schedule in order to speak with TheSweetScience.com .

JK: How are things going in terms of preparations for the IBF Super Middleweight title fight set for Oct. 2nd at Caesars Palace?

SV: Things are going right according to the plan we laid out and we have been in the Poconos and everything is looking good.

JK: How far ahead of the fight date did you head into Las Vegas?

SV: I’ll be in there a week before the fight.

JK: How is your weight right now and have you ever had any troubles making the limit?

SV: My weight is right on target. The one time I did struggle with weight was getting down to 160 to fight Bernard Hopkins as that wasn’t my natural weight class, and I really did have a hard time getting down to 160.

JK: Speaking of weight, do you expect to enter the ring a few pounds over the 168 limit or closer to 175?

SV: Yes, I’m usually pretty good in terms of putting on 5-6 pounds after the weigh-in so about 173 would be typical.

JK: Was Hopkins your toughest fight to date?

SV: Yeah, I mean, Hopkins physically and mentally was a tough fight, but it was a great learning experience.

JK: Hopkins has been called a ‘dirty’ fighter in the past and things of that nature due to the tactics he uses, did you find that to be the case?

SV: Yeah, I don’t know if you want to call it ‘dirty’ or ‘smart’, because he comes out the victor in his fights. So he does whatever it takes to win and that’s why he is the champion, and that’s why I’m about to get my championship.

JK: Hopkins was your second career loss, as your first professional loss came in your 6th fight. On paper it looks like you were beaten by a strong fighter who finished his career with 7 wins and all 7 victories came by knockout. Could he crack that hard or is there more to the story than the TKO5 loss that is registered on your record?

SV: He was a tough guy, very physically strong, but what happened in that fight was just that I got caught with a thumb in the eye and my eye closed up in a matter of seconds. When I went back to the corner and the referee came over and said “no more man, you’re a young guy and we’re not going to let you get hurt here” and the fight was stopped. So the fight was stopped between rounds and I was ahead on all the scorecards but the ref was just looking out for my best interests and you know, you can’t argue with that . . . although I did that night! But looking back it may have been for the better.

JK: Moving ahead to your upcoming IBF super middle title fight with Jeff Lacy, do you feel he may be biting off a bit more than he can chew at this stage of his career?

SV: I really just have to focus on the fight at hand and you know what he brings to the table. He is strong, he can punch with the left hand, right hand, he’s got good balance and he’s hungry. He wants the title. So whether he is biting of more than he can chew or not, I just have to focus on beating the best Jeff Lacy that can show up that night.

JK: Aside from ring experience do you see yourself having physical advantages over Lacy?

SV: Yeah, when I watch his fights I think he punches hard, but I punch harder. He’s fast but I think I’m faster. And movement-wise, I feel my movement is superior to what he brings to the table.

JK: In his fight with Richard Grant it seemed to me that he was hit more than he needed to or should have.

SV: Yes that’s true, and I punch a lot harder than Richard Grant so his defense will have to be a lot sharper than it was that night.

JK: With a nickname of ‘Left Hook’ Lacy, which Jeff Lacy is known both ‘as’ and ‘for,’ do you feel that your southpaw stance will be one of the factors in neutralizing that weapon?

SV: Yeah, I have been boxing right-handers about 95 percent of the time and some of them bring the right hand, some of them throw the left hook. So I’ve seen it all since I was an amateur so it won’t be anything new for me. They always try to make adjustments to my style, and me, I just have to keep doing the things I always do. It will be up for him to make adjustments to my style and for me to do what I do best.

JK: In terms of pure physics, if your are in a southpaw stance, his hook won’t be able to extend like it would versus an orthodox fighter and that would seem to be in your favor. If you keep your right up and pull back the jab quickly you are in a position to block and potentially neutralize his greatest weapon.

SV: He’s is going to be having to come to look to go over my right hand, which is my jab hand, and my jab hand is pretty quick and I can fire the jab from a distance obviously, so unless he’s going to throw a leaping left hook – which I would welcome any day because he’ll meet my left hand very quickly straight down the middle. So it is going to be hard for him to land that left hook effectively, and if wants to try to beat me with the left hook I’ll take my chances and meet him with my left hand.

JK: It is interesting to note that they say the best punch to neutralize a southpaw like yourself is with a steady dose of right hands, and we haven’t seen much of Lacy’s right hand so far. He is obviously strong and can punch with either hand as you noted but if past performance is any indication he prefers to work the body with the hook and finish with the hook.

SV: The way we have prepared is for the best and worse that Jeff Lacy can bring to the fight and we are ready for anything, right and left.

JK: One fight at a time, but I noticed that Joe Calzaghe has decided to come back down to 168 after he had signed to face Glencoffe Johnson at 175 pounds that never materialized. He has a fight upcoming at super middle again and I know you have tried to get his attention in the past, do you ever see a fight between yourself and Calzaghe materializing?

SV: Really that would be up to Calzaghe because I’m pretty much looking to move on and up (in the level of competition) and if he decides he wants to stay at a certain level and doesn’t ever want to step up and face the current champions then he can continue to face the washed up bums, but I’m always ready to face-off against Calzaghe.

JK: If it meant a trip over to the United Kingdom would you make that journey in order to face Calzaghe?

SV: That would have to be something my promoters would have to discuss with his promoter and work out the best deal, but I’m just interested in the fight and I’ve always said I want to face the best at my weight class and if I can’t get that I’ll move up to face the best at Light Heavyweight.

JK: I’m getting ahead of myself, but beyond Lacy, Calzaghe and yourself, who do you consider the top 168 pounders, as there are many European super middleweights that most of us in North America are unfamiliar with?

SV: I honestly don’t know much about the (Mikkel) Kesslers, (Mads) Larsens and (Australian) Danny Green – although I hear he is a hard puncher – but I really don’t know too much about these guys. But whoever is considered to be the best, that’s who I want to fight.

JK: Economically the title fight with Lacy would appear to be the biggest to date for you and your team?

SV: The pay is good, but as it is in boxing, until you are a world champion and you are defending your title, you know, that’s when you can sit back and say, “alright, this is why I put in all those years of hard work, this where the blood, sweat and tears pay off.” But, I gotta win that title and start making defenses and that’s why I’m looking forward to this fight and looking forward to shining.

JK: Any predictions as to how this fight is going to unfold on Saturday, October 2nd?

SV: Yeah, as Mr. T would say, “PAIN” (lot’s of laughter). You know, no prediction other than myself coming out the victor. I think it is going to be an action-packed fight and there will be some serious thunder in the ring. Lacy is coming out thinking that he punches harder than me, and I know I punch harder than him – so there is going to be a time where we stand in the center of that ring and just unload and one guy is going to back up, or one guy is going to fall. I look to be the one standing at the end of that.

JK: Any closing message for the fans of Syd Vanderpool?

SV: Just that anyone who comes out to Caesars Palace can look forward to my victory party after the fight.

JK: One thing I didn’t want to leave without touching on is the PRYDE (Positive Reinforcement Development Enterprise, Ltd.) youth program that you have going on in Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, if you can tell us a bit about your involvement with that program.

SV: With the PRYDE program basically what I do is I go into schools and do boxing clinics. The purpose of the clinic is to use boxing as a tool to teach life skills to the kids – sportsmanship, discipline and those sorts of things. Whatever I teach in boxing I relate it to how they can use it in life – whether it is in school or other sports. The kids respond well to it because it is like “wow, a boxer is coming, cool, cool, cool” so it is a really great tool for me to reach the kids.

JK: Thanks for your time Syd and hopefully we can do this again when you are crowned champion.

SV: Definitely. One thing I would like to mention is that there is a group of Canadians coming down to support me as we have chartered an airplane and there are 140 Canadians coming down to Caesars Palace outdoors and are going to be cheering me on, so I’ll have my support there as well.

JK: Good Luck on October 2nd

SV: Alright Joey, thanks and bye-bye.

Syd Vanderpool is certainly one of the “good guys” in the sport of boxing. He has enjoyed a solid career and is on the verge of his well-deserved title opportunity in fighting for the vacant IBF Super Middleweight title on Showtime this weekend. We extend our sincere thanks to Syd for taking the time to speak with us and wish him all the best.

Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List

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The final boxing pound-for-pound list of the year for 2004.

1. Bernard Hopkins: The top guy from beginning to end, Hopkins took care of Oscar De La Hoya with a body shot in the biggest fight of 2004. Now, he'll wait for Jermain Taylor to progress a little further, or he'll go the rematch route with Felix Trinidad. Either way, Hopkins stands to earn a lot of money in 2005 and extend that all-time middleweight reign.

2. Floyd Mayweather: How long has it been since we've seen Mayweather in a meaningful fight? Certainly not in 2004, when he outpointed the difficult DeMarcus Corley. He's slated for a January outing against a no-name. Enough stalling, already, “Pretty Boy”. Fight someone we care about (preferably Kostya Tszyu), or you'll lose your #2 position sometime in 2005.

3. Felix Trinidad: “Tito” stormed back with a magnificent knockout of Ricardo Mayorga in 2004, and now hopes to capitalize on it with big money fights. He'd like nothing more than a rematch with his only conqueror, Hopkins, but he may also opt for old nemesis Oscar De La Hoya. Either way, Trinidad is sure to fight a big fight sometime in the coming year.

4. Kostya Tszyu: What a difference one fight makes. As recently as late October, the boxing world was wondering whether Tszyu was even serious about the sport anymore. We found out with a second round demolition of Sharmba Mitchell. And that made the junior welterweight division very attractive. Tszyu has several options now, including Arturo Gatti and Mayweather or even a hop up to welterweight to challenge Cory Spinks. Let's hope one of them happens in 2005.

5. Manny Pacquiao: Pacquiao fought twice in 2004, and what a fight the first one was. His thrilling war with Juan Manuel Marquez was the best brawl of the year, and there is a chance that the two rivals will go at it again in 2005. If not, Pacquiao has a list full of options: Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, etc. Pacquiao will fight one of them in the next year.

6. Marco Antonio Barrera: Another guy thought to be washed up when the year started, Barrera resurrected his career for the second time with a masterful victory over Paulie Ayala and a close decision over rival Erik Morales in another great fight. Barrera is obviously shooting for a return with Pacquiao, who decimated him in November 2003. Barrera says it was an off-night. Hopefully, we'll find out if that was the case.

7. Winky Wright: Winky entered the “superstar” realm in 2004 with a pair of decision victories over Shane Mosley. The first was very impressive, as Wright practically shut Mosley out. The second was closer, but proved once again that Winky was the superior fighter. He'd like a shot at Trinidad or Oscar De La Hoya, but neither will happen. He'd probably be best off shooting for a name like Fernando Vargas or Ricardo Mayorga.

8. Juan Manuel Marquez: After several years on the outside looking in, Marquez is finally in a position to make some money after his courageous performance against Pacquiao. He rose from three first-round knockdowns to wage the fight of his life in a fight that was ruled a draw. It would also be interesting to see Marquez against countrymen Barrera and Erik Morales.

9. Erik Morales: “El Terrible” fought another great fight against Barrera, but, again, it was in a losing cause. He has now lost two of three to his fierce rival, and probably wants nothing to do with him anymore. But, eventually, talk of Barrera-Morales 4 will come up again. In the meantime, Morales could shoot for Pacquiao or Marquez.

10. Glencoffe Johnson: The newest entry, Johnson pumped some life into boxing in 2004 with a pair of upsets of Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver. Now, he's set to make some really big money in rematches with either, or a shot at old conqueror Hopkins. Either way, Johnson is better than anyone imagined.

11. Jose Luis Castillo: Castillo made some comeback noise of his own in 2004, beating Juan Lazcano for his old vacant title and decisioning Joel Casamayor for another big win. He says he wants Kostya Tszyu next, and if that materializes, boxing fans will be in for a treat. If not, Castillo vs. Diego Corrales is a great fight.

12. Oscar De La Hoya: Hard to erase that picture of De La Hoya grimacing in agony courtesy of a Hopkins shot to the ribs, but the “Golden Boy” had no business fighting at 160 pounds. He should drop down to junior middle or even welterweight again if he has any hope of regaining his past form. But 2005 could be the final year for one of boxing's all-time great attractions.

On the brink: Antonio Tarver, Diego Corrales, James Toney

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Articles of 2004

Heavyweight Joe Mesi Bringing Lawsuit

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As reported by the Buffalo News, Joe Mesi is suing the New York State Athletic Commission and the MRI center that conducted tests on the heavyweight boxer after his bout with Vassiliy Jirov. Mesi reportedly suffered brain injuries in the Jirov bout, which has left his boxing status uncertain.

The lawsuit alleges Mesi's medical records were improperly released to the NYSAC. The records, the lawsuit goes on to allege, were then released to the media, prejudicing Mesi's right to have his status reviewed by the appropriate boxing authorities.

The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages, as the extent of damages will be affected by whether Mesi is able to resume his career as a leading heavyweight contender.

Mesi hopes to have his status reviewed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission within the coming month. The ruling of the NSAC promises to be key in whether Mesi will be able to resume his boxing career.

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Articles of 2004

The Best in Chicago Boxing Returns

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Dominic Pesoli's 8 Count Productions and Bob Arum's Top Rank Incorporated along with Miller Lite presents SOLO BOXEO DE MILLER, THE ARAGON RUMBLE, another installment of The Best in Chicago Boxing on Friday, January 14th, broadcast live internationally as part of Telefutura's Friday night professional boxing series.

The newly remodeled Aragon Ballroom is located at 1106 W. Lawrence Ave. near the corner of Lawrence and Broadway in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and is easily accessible, just 4 blocks west of Lake Shore Drive and just 4 miles east of the Kennedy expressway. There are three large parking lots located within a 1/2 block of the Aragon Ballroom. Additionally, the Howard Street Blue Line stops just across the street. Doors will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

Headlining the action packed card is the American debut of super-bantamweight Ricardo “PIOLO” Castillo, 12-2 (6KO's) of Mexicali, Mexico as he squares off in a scheduled ten rounder against WBO Latino Champion, Edel Ruiz, 24-12-3 (13KO's) of Los Mochis, SI, Mexico. Castillo will be accompanied to the ring by his brother, World Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo.

In the co-main event of the evening, one of Chicago's most popular fighters, middleweight “MACHO” Miguel Hernandez, 14-1 (9KO's), battles hard swinging local veteran “MARVELOUS” Shay Mobley, 7-4-1 (2KO's), of One In a Million Inc.in a scheduled eight rounder.

The huge undercard bouts include;

Carlos Molina vs TBA, six rounds, junior middleweights
Frankie Tafoya vs TBA, four rounds, featherweights
Ottu Holified vs. Allen Medina, four rounds, middleweights
Francisco Rodriguez vs. LaShaun Blair, four rounds, bantamweights
Rita Figueroa vs. Sarina Hayden, four rounds, junior welterweights

Said Dominic Pesoli, President of 8 Count Productions, “it was a terrific evening last month and our fans were thrilled to be at the Aragon to watch David, Speedy and Luciano. David Diaz's fight against Jaime Rangel was a fight people will talk about for a long time. Our commitment to our fans is to make every event of ours better than the last one. This main event is terrific, both guys are very tough Mexicans who won't take a step back.

The fans love Miguel and Mobley figures to be a very tough opponent. Him and David Estrada had a six round war last June at our show. And the undercard showcases a lot of new, younger talent that is coming out of Chicago right now. Tafoya and Holifield have both had very successful beginnings to their careers and Francisco Rodriguez comes with fantastic amateur credentials and David Diaz says he has all the talent to be a great pro.”

“We've got big plans for 2005 and this show should take up right where last months show left off. The huge crowd loved the action last time and I'm sure they'll say the same thing this time.”

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