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Articles of 2004

Four of the Greatest Fighters of All Time

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At the turn of the 20th century four of the greatest boxers to ever set foot in the ring came to be known as “The Black Foursome of the Teens.”  Those four fighters will forever be remembered at the height of pugilistic history. The four fighters are heavyweights Joe Jennette, Jack Johnson, Sam McVey and the greatest of the four, Sam Langford.

Sam Langford is considered one of the greatest fighters to ever set foot in the ring. He fought successfully against fighters in every weight class from lightweight to heavyweight. Like so many other great black fighters that happened to be born at that time, very few were given the chance to fight for a title. Langford was no exception.
He was born on March 4, 1883 in Nova Scotia. Standing a mere five feet eight inches tall, in his 21 year boxing career Langford fluctuated in weight between 139 and 204 pounds. In his more than 290 pro bouts he would fight anyone at any weight, sometimes being outweighed by as much as 50 pounds or more.

Within 18 months of his first professional fight, Langford beat lightweight world champion Joe Gans. Two weeks later Langford fought welterweight champion Jack Blackburn at a “Catch-Weight” of 142 pounds. The catch-weight was so that even if Langford won the fight there would be no chance of him winning Blackburn’s title.

On December 25, 1905 Langford fought the first of thirteen fights against heavyweight Joe Jennette. Losing the first bout by an 8th round TKO, the two men went on to fight to several draws until finally in December of 1913, Langford beat Jennette in a 20 round decision.

Langford also fought heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in 1906. It took Johnson 15 rounds to beat his much smaller adversary. After the fight Johnson said it would be the last time he would fight Langford, “It was too hard and took to long to get this title to take a chance of losing it to Langford.”

Jack Johnson fought for fourteen years before he was given a chance to fight for the heavyweight title. Having pursued the current heavyweight champion at the time, Tommy Burns, literally around the world, Johnson finally got his chance to fight Burns on December 26, 1908. Johnson caught up with Burns in Australia. The heavyweight championship fight was held at Rushcutter’s Bay in Sydney, Australia.

Johnson went on to give Burns a beating for fourteen rounds until the police stepped in to stop the fight. It was that day in Australia, December 26, 1908 that the first black heavyweight champion of the world was crowned. The title belonged to Johnson and every promoter in the U.S. was looking for “The Great White Hope” to get the title back into the hands of a white man. Johnson earned his title fighting many of the all time greats.

Among those he fought were, Sam Langford, Joe Jennette, and he kayoed the great Bob Fitzsimmons in 2 rounds. When he won the title from Burns he defended it against Philadelphia Jack O’ Brien, Stanley Ketchel and the great James J. Jefferies, who came out of a six year retirement and lost over 100 pounds to get in shape to fight Johnson for the title. None of the above was successful at taking the title from Johnson.

Finally in April of 1915, after 26 rounds in the brutal heat of Havana, Cuba, Jess Willard knocked Jack Johnson out to win the heavyweight title. Supposedly Johnson was knocked unconscious in the 26th round. Rumor has it that Johnson threw the fight. The last picture of the fight shows Johnson flat on his back, shielding his eyes from the sun—hardly the act of a man who was knocked unconscious.

As I mentioned before, if you were born black in the era these fighters fought, the chances of getting a title fight were slim to none. Many of these fighters fought each other repeatedly just to get a fight in order to make enough money to support their families. This was the situation for the third member of “The Black Foursome of the Teens,” Joe Jennette. Just like the fighter he most admired, Sam Langford, Jennette was allowed to fight title holders, but usually written into their contract was a clause barring them from winning a title. Jennette was a typical example of one of the many great black fighters having to fight one another. He fought Sam Langford fifteen times and Sam McVey (another one of the great foursome) five times. He also had several fights with ring greats, Morris Harris (4), Black Bill (10), Battling Jim Johnson (9), and Hall-of-Fame fighter, Harry Wills 3 times.

Many of these fighters went to Europe to fight where they had a much better chance of being treated fair financially. Of the five fights Joe Jennette fought Sam McVey, two took place in Paris. In February of 1909, they met for the second time, according to most records. In that fight the two gave what came to be called a lackluster performance as the fans made their opinion known after the fight by throwing programs and other garbage into the ring. Both fighters decided to give the fans another bout two months later.

The two fighters agreed to fight a ring battle with no round limits. The resulting fight turned out to be one of the greatest boxing marathons in pugilistic history. McVey scored a total of 27 knockdowns in the fight. Jennette made a miraculous comeback in the 19th round and seized control of the fight. As the fight reached the 40 round mark, Jennette clearly controlled the fight but still wasn’t able to finish off McVey. Finally, after 49 grueling rounds, McVey couldn’t continue and Jennette won the fight.

The fourth member of “The Black Foursome” was Sam McVey. As a heavyweight fighter, McVey was a strong, durable fighter who possessed considerable brute strength. McVey fought mostly “Name” black fighters during his 19 year career. McVey did win what was called the “Colored Heavyweight Championship of the World.” He won the title by beating Jack Johnson in 1903, before Johnson won the legitimate heavyweight title from Tommy Burns in 1908.

McVey was born on 1884 in Waelder, Texas. He stood just shy of six feet tall and weighed right around 205-215 pounds. McVey, not unlike other black fighters of his era, was limited to fighting only other black athletes. McVey, like the other three, repetitiously fought the same men over and over. Having fought the best of the group, Sam Langford no less than 15 times, he also fought in marathon fights, some up to 50 rounds.

As I conclude this story of four of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport, one can only imagine how far such great athletes might have gone in their sport if they had been born in a different era. These were four of the greatest boxers in any era of the sport.

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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