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Articles of 2004

Heavyweight Fact Sheets: Battle for Supremacy

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“Battle for Supremacy” is being presented by Don King Productions and will be shown on HBO Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Saturday, Nov. 13.

JOHN “The Quiet Man” RUIZ
Two-Time, and Current WBA Champion
Methuen, Mass.
39-4-1 (28 KOs)

Trainer and Manager: Norman “Stoney” Stone, who has been with Ruiz since he was an amateur.
Cornermen:  Bobby Covino, Alex Riveria, Bryan Stone and Eddie Ruiz (brother)
Training Schedule: 8 a.m. run, 2 p.m. weights. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: training, evening sparring and gym workout.

“There are lots of great heavyweights on this show,” Ruiz said. “This is the perfect chance to see for ourselves, and for the public to see, who really has the talent and is the best.”

On Preparation (according to trainer Norman “Stoney” Stone): “Johnny is already in great shape and acting like a caged lion.  He won’t even go out for his meals.  We’re training for Golota with different sparring partners.  Even the guys that specialize in illegal tactics.  We will be ready and Johnny will show everyone he’s The Man at the top of the heavyweight heap. I have already hired two psychiatrists to try to explain to me why Golota does the things he does in the ring.”

“Bear” of a Tale: During his daily early-morning run in the Poconos on Oct. 6, Ruiz was joined by fellow Bostonian boxer Angel Vargas when they spotted a bear 25 feet up the trail.  “Thank God that bear wasn’t hungry because we just turned and ran the other way,” Ruiz said.

Apparently, the wildlife population in the Poconos is strong, because Ruiz and other camp members have been dodging deer as well as bears while jogging on a four-mile loop they describe as “hills, hills and hills.”

What do Ruiz and Golota Have in Common Besides a Brawling Style?  Neither Ruiz nor Golota are boxing “fans.” Both do not follow the sport, rarely watching other fighters or fights unless they are called upon to do so for promotional purposes.  For these two “lunchpail” brawlers, boxing is where they “punch the clock” to make a living.

vs.

ANDREW GOLOTA
Polish Strongman and No.5 Contender
Warsaw, Poland, now fighting out of Chicago
38-4-1 (31 KOs)

Trainer: Sam Colonna, who has also trained Angel Manfredy, Angel Hernandez, Vaughn Bean and many other Chicago-based fighters.

Big Pole Has Lucky Charm: Colonna trained Golota for his first 22 fights and for his last three fights. Golota has never lost a fight when Colonna has been his trainer.

“Andrew and I have a certain understanding,” Colonna said.  “A fighter and a trainer have to know what is expected of each other.  In our case, we have that because you have to understand Andrew Golota.  He’s different than any other fighter I have ever trained.  I think I get more out of him than anyone else.  When I see him going the wrong way, I’m the one guy that can get him to snap out of it.

“In this fight with Ruiz, he will be tested.  Ruiz is difficult and he’s physical.  Byrd is one thing, Ruiz is another.  Ruiz might spin you, hit behind your head, hit you on your hips or hold you. You know he’s going to try to get Andrew to snap.  My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“I am proud to be part of the show and I want to be part of something that unifies a real champion,” Golota said.  Regarding Ruiz: “Nothing personal, Johnny, I love you.  You too, Stoney.  But you're in my way and it’s going to go my way November 13th.”

CHRIS BYRD
IBF Heavyweight Champion
Flint, Mich., now fighting out of Las Vegas.
36-2-1 (20 KOs)

Trainer : Joe and Rose Byrd, (mother and father) Patrick Byrd (brother)
Camp Coordinator : Tracy Byrd (wife)
Byrd rises at 5:30 a.m. daily to run (current Las Vegas morning temperature: 60º); weight training at 9 a.m. (gym in basement of home); 1 p.m. sparring and boxing sessions (gym in carriage house behind home).  Byrd’s sparring partners stay in four-bedroom guesthouse attached to backyard gym (it’s not Extended Stay, they call it, “Extend-A-Camp”).

Not Hatfields and McCoys:  The Byrd and McCline families are very close.  McCline considers Byrd his idol, and after the couples met in 2001 (after McCline’s fight with Michael Grant), they have remained close and have even stayed at each other’s home, sharing babysitting duties.  Byrd’s wife, Tracy, and McCline’s wife, Tina, have become even closer friends than the boxers. Tracy says they “call each other just because!”

Chris sent McCline’s baby daughter Samantha a toy car (Volkswagen Beetle) for her first birthday, and Tina McCline said, “I never thought Chris would buy her first car.”  For now, the families are not speaking to each other and avoiding all contact.  “I hate it but it has to be this way,” Tracy Byrd said.

“Jameel is my friend and we tried to avoid fighting each other,” Byrd said.  “But now that we are fighting I have to treat him like any other opponent—I want to hurt and beat him.  There won’t be any hesitation on my part to knock-him out.  Actually I would love that! I fought my brother Patrick in the amateurs, and although I love him, we fought like dogs.  It doesn’t make a difference to me.  I fight my heart out and may the best man win.”

vs.

JAMEEL “Big Time” McCLINE
Leading Available Contender
Port Jefferson, N.Y.
31-3-3 (19 KOs)

Trainer: Jimmy Glenn, who trained Floyd Patterson, Joey Gamache, John Mekins and “Irish” Bobby Cassidy (father of Newsday’s Bobby Cassidy) and owner of New York City’s legendary boxing watering hole Jimmy’s Corner.  When questioned about the fighters he has trained, Glenn said, “If you come to my bar, I’ll tell you about all of the other champions that I have trained.”

“This is a huge card,” McCline said.  ‘When I was a kid, I used to run the streets of New York City.  Now I am fighting at the Garden.  It's a dream come true.  Chris is my friend and I respect him as that and as the champion he is.  I'm looking forward to the fight and will be victorious.

“A couple years ago I was asked who my boxing idols were and I named two,” McCline said.  “Riddick Bowe, because for a big man he was one of the first guys to show athleticism, and Chris Byrd because he’s a little guy who will fight anybody, anywhere, anytime.  He’s shows a lot of heart and wonderful skill and he’s just someone I look up to.  When I got to know him as a person he was even better than what I thought of him before. 
“So here I am fighting a great person, a great fighter and a great man at Madison Square Garden and it’s 10 years to the date since I got released from prison—so it’s all destiny. It’s a beautiful thing to be involved in right now.”

HASIM “The Rock” RAHMAN
Former WBC/WBA Champion
Baltimore, Md.
39-5-1 (32 KOs)

New Trainer:  Thell Torrence, who was mentored by Eddie Futch and has trained Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, Audley “A-Force” Harrision, Ken Norton and others.

‘Old School’ Attitude: Known for his impatience with fighters who lack commitment after being schooled by the legendary Eddie Futch, Torrence likes what he sees in Rahman after working with the former heavyweight champion for just three weeks.  “I agreed to work with him because he was willing to work within my program.  From the very beginning he has been honest with me telling me where he’s been, where he is now and where he wants to go.”

“Rahman’s personality sometimes takes me back to my early days with Riddick Bowe because he is a good-natured, funny fellow.  He’s also been giving me a great effort every day.

“I thought Meehan won his fight with Brewster,” Rahman said.  “I told Don to get me the guy who really beat Brewster.  He's a nice guy and showed his friendship with Brewster.  He rocked Lamon to sleep like a baby.  He won't do that to me.  I will be ready to fight this fight and every other fight I have until I am once again champion of the world.”

vs.

KALI “Checkmate” MEEHAN
WBO/IBF Asia Pacific Champion
Wyongah, Australia
29-2 (23 KOs)

Trainer:  “Magic” Mark Janssen.  Meehan’s recent successes on the world stage can be attributed in large measure to his trainer since 2003, “Magic” Mark Janssen, who retired as an undefeated Australian middleweight ranked in the world top five, before becoming a trainer.  Janssen’s steady hand has guided Meehan to new heights.

Boxer Training with Aussie Rugby Squad?  Meehan has taken up training at the Parramatta Rugby League Team Training Facility in Sydney where he is currently in two-a-day workouts:  He runs sprint sessions from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., lifts weights from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and conducts training and sparring sessions from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. when the Rugby players aren’t using the facility.  The Parramatta players have been fascinated by Meehan’s training sessions and have become fans of the heavyweight, and Meehan is a fan of the team as well.  Meehan’s near-defeat of WBO heavyweight champion “Relentless” Lamon Brewster on Sept. 4 has made him a sensation down under.  He calls himself “Australasian” to recognize his birthplace of New Zealand and his home of Australia.

“To be here fighting on this show is so great,” Meehan said. “When I was a little boy, I wanted to fight. Then as my career progressed, I wanted to fight in America.  Now to be fighting at Madison Square Garden, and also fighting with the best heavyweights of my era, is something I would never imagine could happen.”

EVANDER “The Real Deal” HOLYFIELD
Four-Time World Heavyweight Champion
Atlanta, Ga.
38-7-2 (25 KOs)

Trainer:  Ronnie Shields, who trains Juan Diaz, Ivan Hernandez, Juan Lazcano and Dominick Guinn and has trained “Iron” Mike Tyson, Vernon “The Viper” Forrest, Jessie James Leija, Andrew Golota, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, Arturo Gatti and others.

Holyfield took a break from training after his loss to James “Lights Out” Toney and will not have been in a fight for over a year when he enters the ring on Nov. 13 and will be 42 years old.

Don King said about Holyfield, “He's an old man just rolling like a river.”

“This is the first step I have to take, looking over my past fights,” Holyfield said. “ I have made some adjustments and realized I have to be totally dedicated and ready to fight.

“I couldn't get another fight.  I wanted a championship but that didn't happen.  I couldn't let a whole year go by (October 2003 was his last fight) so I had to take this fight.

“The big thing was to get a championship fight but unfortunately it didn’t happen that way. So instead of letting a whole year go by without no competition at all, I think that would have hindered me. So more than anything I had to go back to how I usually think. I can’t be so concerned about getting a championship opportunity. I have to be more concerned about winning it when I get it. So I have to prepare myself so whenever the time will come I’ll get it and win it.

“It’s not like I had a big problem with Chris Byrd. It’s that at that time my health wasn’t the best that it could have been.

“I think that anytime I go into the ring, people know that I’m not going in there boasting that I’m better than anybody. They know that I’m going in there for a goal. The thing is not to fight just to fight. I have a goal to become heavyweight champion of the world. It’s not because I need money; it’s not because I have a bad attitude and I can’t do nothing about it. It’s just the fact that I have to finish the right way. The finish is to be heavyweight champion of the world.”

“The big thing is, I’m in this game because I believe I can win it, not because of the condition that the fighters are in or because of the competition.  I always felt that I was the better fighter than the fighters that were fighting.

I have a passion for the game. I go to sleep and wake up still wanting to fight. I’ve never been a person who cares what anyone else says. If that was the case, I’d still be in the ghetto.  You’re only old when they throw dirt on you.

“Being undisputed champion is something that's been there since 1992 when I lost to Riddick Bowe. There have been times to step away, but my goal has always been to be undisputed champion. The importance is to be the best. If I only get one title, it's only one-third. There are still two other people with titles who think they're the best. The reality is you have to have all three belts. Then no one can say they're better than you.”

vs.

LARRY “The Legend” DONALD
Former NABO Heavyweight Champion
Cincinnati, Ohio
41-3-2 (24 KOs)

New trainer:  Colin Morgan, who was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and now lives in New York City and also trains WBC cruiserweight champion Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite.  Morgan has also trained Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis early in his career, Andrew Murray, Gary St. Claire, Tiger Martinez, Bert Cooper and others.  He is considered by many to be one of the more under-rated trainers in boxing.

“Larry is willing to learn and he is a very hard worker,” Morgan said.  “He has relied too much on his natural abilities, which are huge.

“I’m teaching Larry that if he wants to go to the next step, he must develop his natural killer instincts and punch properly by sitting better on his punches to get more snap, which will result in knockouts.  You’ll see the difference when he steps into the ring with Evander.”

“Working with Colin has been great,” Donald said, “Believe me, my whole body has been feeling it, too.
“It's always good to fight a Hall of Famer,” Donald said of Holyfield. “A lot of people may think he don't have it anymore but he do. When he comes to fight, he comes to fight. Anybody who goes in with him and expects him to lay down has a problem.

“I'm not disappointed in my career. All around I've had a beautiful career. A couple of fights I may have fallen short but you can't fall apart. That's when you have to be at your best. I feel I should have gotten more opportunities, but everybody isn't willing to step in the ring with me the way Holyfield is. He never ducks and dodges nobody. Why would he start now?

“Holyfield has a goal, and I have a goal, and we both can't reach 'em. His is to become five-time heavyweight champion. I'm just striving to be champion. That's what's going to make our fight magnificent. This is a title eliminator.

“It's very rare to get all those top-notch fighters on one card.  This is going to be beautiful. I'm excited to be part of it. For me, what this fight's all about is opportunity.  Nothing will stop me and I am ready to rumble.”

Tickets priced at $800, $500, $300, $150 and $75, are on sale now at the Garden box office and all TicketMaster locations or by calling TicketMaster at 212-307-7171, 201-507-8900, 631-888-9000, or 914-454-3388. TicketMaster purchases are subject to convenience charges.

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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