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Articles of 2004

Cherish Felix Trinidad While You Can

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So much for Felix Trinidad being rusty.

The former welterweight and junior middleweight champion was such a formidable offensive machine Saturday in an 8th-round knockout of Ricardo Mayorga that you would have thought he last fought in May 2004 – not May 2002. Not only did the riveting victory breathe new life into Trinidad's career, it provided boxing with a shot in the arm and gave the sport a new – or make that old – star to cherish for at least a few more years.

And cherish him we will. Few fighters bring the passion and power the classy Puerto Rican exhibits everytime he steps between the ropes. And it was a comeback victory that was almost as incredible as Sugar Ray Leonard's unlikely decision over Marvin Hagler in 1987 after a roughly three-year layoff.

The reasons Trinidad's win was so impressive.

Trinidad's accuracy: What fighter retires for more than two years, gains a considerable amount of weight, loses it, and returns against a guy 10 months removed from a world championship and connects at a rate of 63 percent (290 of 460 punches)? Not many. Maybe not anybody. And when you consider that Trinidad landed 218 of 329 power punches for a connect percentage of 66 percent – and retained enough defensive prowess to limit Mayorga to 128 of 391 power punches – “Tito's” performance hedges on unprecedented. Trinidad's punches were hard, sharp and deadly accurate – shaking Mayorga to his core everytime they landed. It was almost uncanny.

Trinidad's condition: Beforehand, it seemed that Mayorga would hold the edge if this fight went past three or four rounds. Afterall, in the time that Trinidad had been retired, Mayorga had gone 12 rounds with Vernon Forrest and Cory Spinks – two guys on everybody's pound-for-pound list at one time or another – and 10 more against a no-name earlier this year. But it was Mayorga sucking air after the first few rounds, and it was Trinidad who didn't appear at all fazed by the frantic pace. After the vicious fight, which some were calling a “Hispanic Hagler-Hearns”, Trinidad seemed as if he could fight another eight rounds. Apparently, he really wasn't kidding about those marathons.

Trinidad's chin: Trinidad's chin has always been something of a mystery. He would go down – and sometimes appear very hurt – before storming back to destroy his opponent. It happened against Yory Boy Campas, David Reid and Fernando Vargas. Early in his welterweight reign, he was staggered and almost knocked out by little-known Anthony Stephens. And, of course, there was the knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins. So, going in, the power punching Mayorga's chances seemed to be that, if he connected, he could expose Trinidad's unreliable beard. Well, Mayorga landed. And landed and landed. But nothing happened. Trinidad's chin appeared to be sturdier than at any other point in his career. He was dropped momentarily, but it was hardly a case of Trinidad being badly dazed. Amazingly, Trinidad's chin has seemingly improved with the rise in weight.

Trinidad grew into a middleweight: Trinidad was a welterweight until 2000, when he moved up to 154 pounds and defeated Reid and Vargas. Then, in 2001, he moved up to 160 pounds and massacred poor William Joppy for the WBA middleweight title. Because of that victory, most thought Trinidad was already a full-fledged 160-pounder because of his power. But, four months later, it was obvious in his loss to Hopkins that his body was still that of a junior middle. He appeared fleshy around the middle, without the tightness of his welterweight prime. Almost three years later against Mayorga, Trinidad's body looked big and strong and tight – like a legitimate middleweight. His size appeared even more daunting in that Mayorga couldn't seem to bother him with his suddenly-inconsequential punching power. And Trinidad's advantage in strength appeared overwhelming.

Could Trinidad actually be better than before? It's possible. He said the 29 month hiatus served as a extended rest period, and it seems to have done wonders.

Yes, Tito is back alright. Back and ready to write the second – and possibly most exciting – chapter of an extraordinary career.

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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