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Articles of 2004

Middleweight Champs: Never Go Down and Rarely Go Up

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Since knocking out Oscar De La Hoya in the signature-fight of his career, while successfully defending his undisputed Middleweight title for a record 19th consecutive time, Bernard Hopkins still hasn't quite silenced all of his critics. Now some of them want him to move up in weight and challenge a defending champion. Since winning the title in 1995, Hopkins’ biggest and most celebrated title defenses have been against Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, fighters who moved up from lower weight divisions to challenge him. Some fans and critics have admonished him for never doing the same.

Some of those same critics have inferred that if Bernard Hopkins is really great, he'd move up in weight and try to capture a title. Today, too many writers and fans are enamored with fighters who win titles in multiple weight divisions. With all the different weight divisions in boxing today, a fighter can move up 10 pounds and cover three weight classes.

Fighters move up in weight for all different reasons. Some legitimately outgrow their division, some move up so they can fight in a less talented one. And some fighters and champions are not willing to pay the price and sacrifice to stay at the weight where they're probably at their optimum physically. The truth is many of them are just lazy.

Throughout boxing history, it's been common for Featherweights to move up to Lightweight, Lightweights to move up to Welterweight, and Welterweights to move up to Middleweight, and more than a few Light Heavyweight champs tried to move up to Heavyweight and win the title. What about the Middleweights? Fighters hardly ever drop down to a lighter division, so their only option is to move up to Light Heavyweight. However, this has been a rare occurrence for no less than the last 50 years.

In June of 1952, Middleweight Champion Sugar Ray Robinson challenged Light Heavyweight Champion Joey Maxim. On the night of the fight, Robinson weighed 157 pounds, three pounds under the Middleweight limit. It was 104 degrees in Yankee Stadium. The heat was so oppressive that referee Ruby Goldstein passed out from heat exhaustion during the 10th round of the fight and had to be replaced by Ray Miller. Robinson, who was winning the fight handily on all three cards, (10-3, 9-3-1, 7-3-3) lost when he collapsed after the 13th round and couldn't come out for the 14th. The greatest in pound for pound history, Sugar Ray Robinson, fell two rounds and six minutes short of holding the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight titles at the same time.

In the last fifty years, there have been three dominant Middleweight champions. Two of them, Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler are regarded as all time greats today. And current champ Bernard Hopkins will no doubt be remembered as an all time great after he retires. However, Monzon never fought for the Light Heavyweight title, despite his career paralleling with an all time great Light Heavyweight Champion, Bob Foster. Marvin Hagler won the title exactly 10 years after Monzon. His career also coincided with an all time great Light Heavyweight Champ in Michael Spinks. Like Monzon, there was never even a whisper of Hagler fighting for the Light Heavyweight title, not once. Why is it some expect Hopkins to, when it never was expected of Monzon or Hagler?

I can't help but think that maybe Robinson viewed Maxim as an easy touch and the perfect opponent to attempt to make history against. And by the way the fight was going, he was probably right. Had Robinson fought Maxim on any another night in any other stadium, he probably wins. In his next defense, Maxim lost the title to Archie Moore, who is thought by many respected boxing historians as one of, if not the greatest Light Heavyweight champions of all time. I wonder if Moore had been the Light Heavyweight champ at the time if the shrewd Robinson would have attempted to make history?

Since Robinson fell short 52 years ago, there have been less than a handful of Middleweight champs who have fought for or won the Light Heavyweight title. I'm only including the Middleweight champs who won the title when there was only one champ and were undisputed. Or they at least successfully defended it. Not included are fighters who won two titles in one fight, or fighters who moved up in weight for one fight. To be included they had to be the legitimate and recognized Middleweight champion, no gimmick or alphabet title holder.

From 1952 through 2004, there have only been four Middleweight champions who fought for the Light Heavyweight title, just four. And not one Middleweight champ fought the Light Heavyweight champ as the reigning and defending Middleweight King.

Carl “Bobo” Olson, Terry Downes, Dick Tiger, and Roy Jones are the only former Middleweight champs who fought for the Light Heavyweight title in the last 52 years. And Dick Tiger and Roy Jones are the only Middleweight champions who went onto capture the Light Heavyweight title.

Personally, I don't think winning titles in three divisions is a monumental feat for a fighter starting at 130 and winning titles at 135 and 140. Which is one of the typical paths taken by many of today's fighter's who can be introduced as a three time champ. Ten pounds, three titles? I'm much more impressed with a defending champion who continues to stay dedicated and doesn't change weight divisions and who regularly defends his title against the best opposition in his own division. However, I believe that, for a number of reasons, the jump from middleweight to light heavyweight and the jump from light heavyweight to heavyweight are the two most difficult transitions to make. Physiologically, it's the first division where the guys start to become really big. A big welterweight isn't fundamentally much different from a middleweight, but even a huge middleweight like Roy Jones suddenly found himself at a disadvantage when he moved up those fifteen pounds. Jones was almost untouchable before he moved up. But even in an early performance against Lou DeValle–an average puncher–he was dropped.

Luckily, Roy Jones didn't have to fight any killers to win the light heavyweight title. Dick Tiger was so strong that he could have walked through a wall. Once he hit his prime, nobody budged him at 160. Then after getting the 175 title, he was almost killed with one punch by Bob Foster. Granted, Foster was probably the hardest puncher ever at that weight, but the point remains the same. His frame couldn't withstand a great shot–from a true light heavyweight knockout artist. What is often overlooked is that the jump from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight is a 15 pound leap north. Usually when fighters move up in weight, it's in increments of 4 or 5 pounds at a time. I was told by a well respected boxing trainer that the jump from middleweight to light heavyweight is “Ultimately, the weight jump that starts to ask too much of the human body.”

The Middleweight division has been thought of as boxing's glamour division. Maybe there is a price to pay for that. Because Middleweight champions are the least likely to win titles in multiple divisions, they never go down and rarely go up.

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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