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Articles of 2004

Trinidad Pounds Mayorga in Triumphant Return



As if gambling with their blood, retinas and brainwaves weren't enough, Felix Trinidad and Ricardo Mayorga agreed to an additional side bet.

A nice, round $100,000 from the loser's purse was payable the winner of Saturday night's 12-round middleweight showdown in Madison Square Garden. Although contract probably wouldn't skirt New York laws, the fighters signed them anyway to ensure the loser wouldn't welsh.

Mayorga already had his money spent. He proclaimed before the fight he was going to buy a limousine.

“The limousine he wanted to win with my money,” Trinidad said through an interpreter early Sunday morning, “now he has to buy just a little car.”

Mayorga left the Garden in neither a limo nor a carrito, but rather an ambulance. He was in a daze when he was whisked away to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation after Trinidad floored him three times in the eighth round to win a humdinger of a brawl.

At a time when boxing is desperate for the emergence of a bona fide superstar to replace the long list of recent fallen warriors, Trinidad provided the next best thing: the return of an elite fighter after a two-year retirement.

“Tito, Tito, you are my shining star,” promoter Don King melodiously offered. “Don't you go away.”

Trinidad looked as though he hadn't been out of the gym for a day. He carried the same, slender physique. There was no rust, no corrosion or even a speck of dust on his gloves. He unleashed a prodigious assault, and Mayorga valiantly weathered it for seven rounds until his body could stand no more.

“I was strong in the ring, and I felt very comfortable,” said Trinidad, fighting for the first time since he stopped Hassine Cherifi in May 2002. “I expected a tough fight and Mayorga did not prove me wrong. He has an incredible chin and great power.”

The matchup made for riveting theater. The 17,406 fans in attendance were forcefully behind Trinidad. Puerto Rican flags rippled. Cheers of “Ti-to! Ti-to!” thundered. The staunch loyalists even booed the Nicaraguan national anthem.

The fans stood for most of the bout. The proud fighters wouldn't give them a chance to sit.

Trinidad and Mayorga immediately went after each other from the opening bell, and it had little to do with their desire to win the vacant WBA North America and North American Boxing Council belts. Trinidad's punches were thrown with dart-like accuracy, while Mayorga cocked his shots from somewhere near the fifth-floor concession stands.

Mayorga exhibited no fear of Trinidad's storied power and was intent upon testing it straight away. The chain-smoking swashbuckler with died-crimson hair imparted that infamous go-ahead-I-dare-ya pose, dropping his gloves and inviting Trinidad to take his best shot or two. The psychological tactic demoralized Vernon Forrest when they first met in January 2003 because Mayorga didn't blink. The fight essentially was over.

This time, Trinidad hammered his defenseless foe with a pair of flush left hooks. Mayorga seemed to enjoy it — for about three seconds. Trinidad followed up with a remarkable barrage, and it was a wonder Mayorga was still standing at the bell.

Trinidad won the second round just as easily, uncorking skull shot after skull shot. Mayorga, however, kept coming forward and landed enough punches to maintain justifiable respect.

Mayorga caught his first break in the third round, when he landed a right to the back of an off-balance Trinidad's head. Trinidad awkwardly lurched forward and instinctively put his left hand down to keep him from falling. As soon as the glove touched the canvas, referee Steve Smoger called a knockdown. The fight was even after three rounds.

Trinidad took the fourth round easily enough, but his best round yet came in the fifth. He peppered Mayorga with all manner of punches throughout, but with about 35 seconds left in the round Trinidad let loose a series of scalp seekers. Blood drained from below his left eye.

Mayorga didn't go down in the fifth round, but he dominated so thoroughly it should have been scored 10-8. Judges Guy Jutras, Steve Weisfeld and Fred Ucci assessed accordingly, but Ucci reconsidered and scrawled a 9 over his 8.

“I came out for this bout in better condition,” Trinidad said. “It was a tough fight. I have to say that Mayorga is a real hard, hard fight. He hits hard, takes a lot of punches. But I came to win, and when I put my hands on my opponents, I make him feel it.”

Trinidad exalted the crowd at the start of the sixth. He stood gallantly in his corner before the bell and punched his shoulder in salutation. Across the way, Mayorga slouched on his stool and somehow gathered yet more strength.

Mayorga got lucky again with about 40 seconds left in the sixth round, when a Trinidad left hook struck him in the right quadriceps. It's unclear if Mayorga sustained a deep bruise or a charley horse, but Smoger called time and allowed the hobbled fighter time to recover. The breather seemed to boost Mayorga, who closed the round solidly.

Mayorga jumped on Trinidad to begin the seventh round and appeared to be gaining momentum, but Trinidad went wild over the last 55 seconds. Mayorga again was reeling at the bell.

Trinidad, after popping Mayorga's noggin all night, closed the show with body blows. A searing left sent Mayorga to the canvas with 1:22 left in the round. Another gut shot ignited a combination that dropped Mayorga again about 30 seconds later.

“The body shots changed the history, and a valiant Mayorga had no option but to go down for the first time in his career,'' said Trinidad's father and trainer, Felix Sr.

No single punch ended the fight. Mayorga himself bailed out and dropped to all fours with 21 seconds remaining in the eighth round. It was all he could do to prevent Trinidad from continuing a vicious cranial assault.

“I felt good about my performance, but my eye swelled up and I couldn't see some shots,” Mayorga said through interpreter.

Mayorga was asked if he thought he had hurt Trinidad when Smoger called the third-round knockdown. In no-excuse, true warrior fashion, Mayorga replied “No” before he was directed from the ring and into the awaiting ambulance.

Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List



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




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




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 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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