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Articles of 2004

Trinidad-Mayorga: Credit Where Credit Is Due

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This past weekend fight fans both casual and die-hard were treated to an excellent battle of skill versus will as Ricardo ‘El Matador’ Mayorga and Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad put on a display that demonstrated boxing at its best. There was no questionable decision, no wavering heart, no mismatch, and no doubt we had all witnessed a great fight.

While the fight itself will live on until we see another as good or better, what shouldn’t be lost is the fact that a fight of that magnitude was even made when considering all the questions heading in. Both men took great risks in accepting the contract under the conditions, and with great risk come great rewards. And we were greatly rewarded.

Questions ran rampant heading into the Don King production and only the fight itself could provide the answers. Felix Trinidad had been a great champion starting at welterweight and successfully moved up in weight to become the WBA Middleweight champion when he TKO’d William Joppy in May of 2001. His victories were almost always memorable, as his habit of getting knocked down only to storm back and knock out his opponent made for exciting fights. That was until he faced Bernard Hopkins.

The Executioner dominated Trinidad for most of twelve rounds before Papa Trinidad rescued his son and fighter from further pugilistic abuses and possible permanent damage. While Tito went on to fight again, he came back into this weekend’s bout with Mayorga having been dormant for nearly two-and-a-half years. Post-Hopkins would Trinidad be the same accurate puncher or did absorbing too many shots during his 12-year career slow him down a notch or two?

Being away from enemy fire for such an extended period of time meant for certain that Trinidad would have to shake off some ring rust for a round or two. Fighting a mad bomber that throws caution to the wind like Ricardo Mayorga was risky business – if Trinidad wasn’t afforded any early rounds to get his groove back, how would he respond being thrown straight into the fire?

Finally, was it a sound strategy to take on the heavy-handed Nicaraguan who had knocked out 23 opponents in his 27 victories? That question is even more profound when considering the number of times – now 10 and counting – Trinidad had been sent to the canvas in his professional career. If Tito happened to show signs of ring rust and came out slow against the hard-hitting Mayorga, well, we know his chin had already been tried and found wanting.

The biggest gamble Ricardo Mayorga was taking had to be the huge jump in weight. The man who recently made the 147-pound Welter limit while eating a chicken wing and had just one fight at 154 under his belt was now jumping in weight again, to Middleweight. Less than one year ago he was fighting 147 pound opponents and now would do battle 13-pounds heavier. If Mayorga could still make Welterweight limit of 147 pounds, why challenge one of our era’s best at 160? In the end the answer likely had much to with Ricardo’s determined belief that he was capable of absorbing Trinidad’s punches on his iron jaw better than Tito could take the free-swinging Mayorga’s blows.

Behind the scenes much had been made of problems that ‘El Matador’ had in his native Nicaragua. There was a reported high-speed traffic accident that left Mayorga and a partner dangling in a wreck. Then charges were brought against him for an alleged rape incident which continues with a court date just days after this biggest fight of his career against Trinidad. Would out of ring distractions affect Mayorga’s inside the ring performance and preparation?

The answers came early and often, as it was clear that Mayorga could handle Trinidad’s power and that Tito was able to work the rust off. After a tentative start for Trinidad he began to find his groove as early as the second round and Mayorga demonstrated his iron chin as he stuck out it for Tito to hammer with his hook. Trinidad obliged with consecutive concussive left hooks – Mayorga took them and the tone for the fight was set. Mayorga had made his point that he could take what was given, and Trinidad was more than content to give it.

Interestingly it was Trinidad who would first touch the canvas when, in the third round, he was the recipient of a short right and his balance failed him. However, as the fight wore on the accurate combination punching of the Boricua easily found its mark on Mayorga’s face – and it painted a bloody picture as the warrior bled from the nose and was cut under his left eye. The additional weight did seem to slow Mayorga and by the third round his punches had lost some pop and his hands were being carried low. Mayorga took astounding punishment and we were often left awestruck that ‘El Matador’ was still standing, albeit sometimes on shaky legs.

In sticking with his technical dominance of the fight, Trinidad began to reassert his focus on the body with left jabs and straight rights up top, followed by debilitating left hooks and upper cuts to the body. In the end, the fateful eighth round, Ricardo Mayorga went down for the third time in less then three minutes and referee Steve Smoger rightfully closed the book on a great boxing story.

The answers to all the pundits’ questions added up to one great fight. Felix Trinidad, Ricardo Mayorga, Don King—for risking his moneymaker Trinidad—and referee Steve Smoger—for exercising just the right amount of influence in the ring—all deserve credit for their parts in putting on a great show.

It was The Sweet Science at its 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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