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Articles of 2004

No Soft Touches In Whippany

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(10/14/04) – Amidst the gaudy chandeliers and brocade-covered walls of the Hanover Marriott in Whippany, NJ, promoter Andre Kut produced a lively evening of fisticuffs with more than its fair share of surprises for a lively and diverse crowd of fight aficionados.  Kut and his KEA Boxing promotional company have established a solid foothold in the most unlikely of boxing venues deep in the Morris County hinterlands with this, their second show here in four months.

It was to be a night of reclamation for two of the fighters on the card, as former WBO jr. featherweight kingpin Agapito Sanchez looked to continue his rebound from his discouraging seventh round stoppage at the hands of Joan Guzman back in February.  “El Ciclon” had scored a recent win over Francisco Mateos and was put in against the earnest but limited Rogers Matagwa on this night.  Former New Jersey amateur great John Molnar, inactive for over two years due to several physical maladies that included the surgical repair of his left shoulder, made his comeback against an either 0-1 or 7-5-3 scrapper by the name of Juan Pablo Escobar. Whether or not you had more faith in BoxRec, Fight Fax or KEA’s record keeping, it looked to be an easy night’s work for the pride of Middletown, NJ.  That assumption would be exploded by night’s end.

Sanchez, 126, came out strong and established a sharp, punishing jab that penetrated the porous defense of Matagwa, who weighed in at125 pounds. A solid Sanchez left hook in round two staggered Matagwa, but Agapito’s puzzling lack of aggression allowed the Tanzanian Bull to clear his head and survive the round. The third session had the crowd roaring as the two men traded vicious combinations throughout and left Sanchez with a messy cut on the bridge of his nose. In the fourth round another gash was opened, this time over Sanchez’ right eye. He complained of a head butt to referee Tony Orlando, but it appeared to be a Matagwa left hand that did the damage. Matagwa dominated the action in the round but lost momentum when one of Sanchez’ shoelaces came loose and was re-tied, albeit very slowly, by his cornerman.

The remainder of the bout saw a number of zesty exchanges between the two men but Matagwa, with his penchant for throwing non-stop, awkward-angle combinations, seemed to have the edge in this one based solely on output and effective aggression.  Of course, the men with the pencils and scorecards saw it a different way.  Judges Paul Venti and Earl Morton had it a slightly wide 97-93 for Sanchez, while George Hill scored it a more plausible 96-96 draw.  Sanchez improves to 35-9-2, 19KO’s, while Matagwa drops to 17-9-2, 13KO’s.

Sanchez looked far older than his 34 years in this one, and far removed from the fighter who gave Manny Pacquiao fits back in their 2001 encounter that ended in an abbreviated technical draw. Matagwa, at 5’-5”, fights like a giant with his guts and energy but shouldn’t have had his way against “El Ciclon” that appears to have lost much of its velocity.

John Molnar, 150, appeared to have brought most of Middletown, NJ with him this night, as a majority of the fans in attendance greeted his appearance with a huge roar of approval. It was Molnar’s first ring appearance in over two and half years, and one could be excused for thinking he was being put in “soft” when Juan Pablo Escobar was penciled in as his opponent. Escobar, 147, fighting out of Philly, was a virtual unknown except for his seventh round TKO loss to Michael Stewart earlier this year. But from the opening bell of the six round co-feature it was apparent that Escobar was going to make the most of fighting his second “name” opponent.

The two fighters came out winging, with Molnar’s superior technical skills allowing him to slip most of Escobar’s offense while landing a series of accurate jabs that reddened the Mexican’s face. Both men went to the body early and often and exhibited a tremendous energy level throughout the first several rounds but it was Escobar who dictated the terms in this one, staying squarely in Molnar’s chest, firing volleys of uppercuts and wild right hands that found their mark more often than not.  An overhand right from Molnar opened up a cut over Escobar’s left eye in the second—which bled freely at times–but did not become a factor in the bout.  Escobar’s face first style prevented Molnar from establishing any real rhythm in the fight and instead turned it into a war of attrition for the fighters. There was an uneasy air of expectation among the Molnar faithful as they awaited ring announcer Henry Hascup’s pronouncement of the scorecards.  In the end, judge George Hill saw it 59-55 for Escobar; Paul Venti went 58-56 for Molnar, and Earl Morton ruled it a 57-57 stalemate.

“He (Escobar) was there the whole fight, so he was tougher than I thought he’d be,” said Molnar after the fight. “I dropped 30 pounds for this fight and my legs got a little weak as the fight went on.”  When asked if he was satisfied with the result of his night’s work, Molnar answered:  “No, I’m not happy.  I should have done whatever I had to do to win the fight.  A lot of rounds I fought his fight.”  He gave his opponent due credit for his willingness to stay in and mix it up, and offered that he wouldn’t necessarily say no to a rematch.  This was music to the ears of Escobar’s brain trust, who were delighted with the evening’s results.  “Pablo did fine, considering this was his first fight with our team,” commented Frank Ward, who was referring to his partners Kevin Yeiser and Daniel Alicea.  “We’ll definitely take a rematch with him (Molnar); only this time it’s gonna have to be across the river in Philly.”

Whether that comes to pass or not is anybody’s guess.  It would seem that Molnar received far more trouble from Escobar than he or his manager Peter Finn had expected, a point that Finn regarded as a necessary evil.

“Given what his following is…and he’s got a good following in New Jersey,  to put him in with anyone less than a real, real rugged guy…would be a detriment to him with the fans, who would see it as an absolute sham,” said the urbane Finn, a boxing manager possessing the best vocabulary since Bill Cayton.  Molnar sees the tie bring his record to 19-2-2, 10KO’s, while Escobar—previous record seemingly unknown—gets a “name” added to it and and garners the respect of the fans at ringside.

On the third co-feature bout Rahway’s Dorian “The Quiet Storm” Beaupierre, 164, took on Philly’s Jake “The Snake” Rodriguez, 163, in a real crowd pleaser.  Beaupierre’s classic boxing skills really shone in this one as he played picador to Rodriguez’ bull. The taller, leaner Beaupierre worked a steady jab into Jake’s mush, followed by some thudding rights that slowed the hyper-aggressive Rodriguez down a bit.  A right uppercut opened up a nasty cut over the left eye of Rodriguez in the fourth and the claret flowed.  But as his blood flowed, so did his adrenaline as Jake pursued Beaupierre wildly around the ring, imploring his foe to stand and fight.  Dorian maintained his poise and thudded home lead right hands into Jake’s face to end the round.  Referee Brian O’Melia brought in the ringside doctor and the bout was halted in Beaupierre’s favor as a 5th round TKO.  Dorian’ s ledger now stands at a decent 12-2-2, 6KO’s, while the well-traveled Rodriguez—always a willing sort—drops to 5-11-0, 4KO’s (according to Boxrec.com).

Southpaw Jonathan Tubbs, 150, of Rochester, NY dominated Philadelphia’s Gary Drayton, 150, en route to a fourth round stoppage. Tubbs, a tall, lanky welter trained by former world jr. welterweight champ Charles Murray, dropped a game but outgunned Drayton in the third round, and used his wicked right hook to good effect throughout the fight.  After being on the receiving end of a barrage of Tubbs’ leather, Drayton was saved from further punishment by referee Tony Orlando, who stepped in to call things to an end after 0:30 of round four had elapsed.  Tubbs goes to 5-0-0, 3KO’s, while Drayton slips to 4-9-1, 4KO’s.

Lightweights Ricardo Rosas, 132, of North Bergen, NJ and Edward Valdes, 133, Queens, NY engaged in a sloppy, mauling affair ending in a majority nod for Rosas.  Rosas goes to 2-1-1, 1KO, while Valdes loses in his pro debut.

Kut has tentatively scheduled a November card for this same venue.  If his KEA Boxing group can continue to offer competitive, entertaining matches and sustain a decent gate, the Hanover Marriott may become the place to go for northern New Jersey boxing fans, much as the even more-remote Great Gorge Playboy Club in McAfee, NJ was in the early 1980’s.

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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