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Articles of 2004

Happy Birthday Champ



It was 62 years ago today he was born. He is now old enough to collect Social Security and retire. He is Muhammad Ali aka Cassuis Marcellous Clay. He was born on January 17th 1942, 12 years later he would enter a boxing gym for the first time. Twenty two years later he would score one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history on his way to capturing the heavyweight championship of the world. Sixty two years later he is one of, if not the most recognized human being on the planet. Without question he is the most famous athlete in the history of civilization, sorry Babe Ruth, sorry Michael Jordan, but neither of you are Ali!

Muhammad Ali crossed so many paths, that in one way or another he touched all of us. Like former heavyweight champ and Ali foe George Foreman has often said, limiting Ali to a boxer is an insult. He's much bigger than that. Over the course of the last 40+ years, Ali has made us all think and debate many touchy topics.

He was a lightning rod on race and religion. He made us debate politics and war. He brought huge money into sports, not just boxing. Ali made athletes in all sports realize that they were the true stars. Ali realized that the people paid to see the athlete perform. Without Ali, there is no Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, or Tiger Woods. And think about it, Ali was that huge before the media explosion had taken place before the ESPN SportsCenter era. Imagine if he was around today with talk radio, 24 hour cable news, and ESPN? It boggles the mind to think how big he'd be today.

Over the years many have tried to duplicate and copy the Ali persona, but they have all failed miserably. In Hollywood their is a saying that ask whether or not the entertainer has it. Nobody has really defined what it is, but it is for certain that Muhammad Ali had it! Whether you were black or white, man or women, there was just something about the guy that just drew you to him. Think about it, how many people in their lifetime can go from being the most hated, to being the most loved? I can't think of anyone else who that can be said about other than Muhammad Ali.

I remember in 1970, I was 10 years old and totally bitten by the boxing bug. I had been totally taken by this guy who I saw on the 6 o'clock news who was yelling at Sonny Liston by the name of Cassius Clay. From that moment on it was over for me. I have often asked myself over the years what came first, my love of boxing, or was it my fascination with Ali that drew me to boxing. I'm still not sure I know the answer?

Back to 1970. It was October and Ali was coming back to fight second ranked Jerry Quarry after a forced 43 month exile for refusing induction into the U.S. Army. At that time I was a huge Quarry fan, mainly because he was tough and could fight, and also because he was the best white heavyweight fighter around at the time. Being white, I must admit that I did want to see a white guy do good and possibly win the title. On the day of the fight I pleaded with my father to take me to see the closed circuit showing of Ali-Quarry. I remember thinking to myself, who should I root for? I kept telling myself that I should probably be rooting for Quarry, however I knew that if Quarry would've beat Ali, it would have devastated me. Where if Quarry lost, I could have lived with it, and on top of that, I expected Quarry to lose to Ali.

Needless to say, once Ali came into view my blood was pumping and I cheered for him louder than anyone in the arena. I lived and died with every punch and was ecstatic when Quarry couldn't come out for round four. That was probably the moment in my life that I realized Ali was colorless. It didn't matter what color or country the opponent was from, Ali was Ali and that was all that mattered

Over the years so much has been written about Ali. I am no where near the caliber writer to write about him and do him any real justice. This is strictly from the heart! That being said, there are many things about Ali the fighter that make him special. Forget about his speed and physical gifts, how about the intangibles? Oh, before I mention the intangibles, I must convey that in my opinion Muhammad Ali was a very overrated boxer, not fighter, but boxer. He broke every rule in the book, and never learned basics and fundamental defense. Yet he still dominated the best heavyweight era in boxing history, despite missing the best 43 months of his physical prime.

Back to Ali's intangibles and admirable traits. One thing that can never be taken from Ali is the fact that he fought everybody. From 1964 through 1977, there isn't one period that he hadn't fought and defeated at least 5 of the top 10 ranked heavyweights in the world. In most cases he fought 6 or 7, and in some instances he fought as many as 9 of them. When Liston, Frazier, and Foreman were thought to be unbeatable, Ali was the one who sought them out in order to make the fight.

After upsetting Liston in 1964, he made his first defense against Liston. He could have fought two or three easy touches to pad his record and bank account. Instead he fought the biggest and baddest fighter around. After splitting two very close fights with Ken Norton, a fighter who was always difficult for him, he defended his title against him. After winning the title back from George Foreman in 1974, he defends it against top contenders Lyle and Frazier in 1975. After beating Norton in their third fight in September of 1976, he was willing to give Foreman a rematch, however Foreman lost to Young in March of 1977. So Ali fights the next toughest and biggest hitter around in September of 1977, Earnie Shavers.

Throughout his entire career, Ali fought everybody, and gave many of them rematches. His heart and will to win are equal to or better than any fighter in history. Ali sometimes looked ordinary against second tier opposition, but he was brilliant against the best of the best. Nobody sucked it up in the big spot like Muhammad Ali. Like him or not, that can never be denied. Without question Ali fought and defeated the overall best grade of fighter during his career. More so than any other heavyweight in history. The bottom line is that Ali the fighter had more ways and weapons to beat great fighters than any other heavyweight in history. He ate up the big punchers, frustrated and muscled the boxers and counter punchers, and always had an extra gear late in a tough fight to break his opponents will. He also had a cast iron chin and an indomitable will to win.

All that being said, I left out Ali's greatest attributes. He was a truly a great man. Oh some may say he was too mean with his tongue vs Frazier, and he humiliated Patterson and Terrell. However, even Ali was not perfect. He recognized those short comings and made amends for them. Which is the true mark of a big man, admitting you were wrong, and not gloating when your right. Anyone who is truly a student of Ali knows that the man had time for everybody. Black or White, Rich or Poor, Big or Small. No athlete or entertainer has given more back to their fans than Muhammad Ali. He is the most accessible superstar in the world. He has never turned anyone down for a picture or an autograph. He understood that without the fans, he wouldn't have mattered at all. And to this day, he still knows it.

Ali also did something else that stands out. When he was at his physical prime and at the point of his career where his earning power was at its peak, he stood by his convictions. He gave up the biggest prize in sports for his Religious beliefs, something he still lives by 40 years later. In the biggest spot of his life he didn't falter a bit when challenged by the U.S. Government. Typical Muhammad Ali! Happy Birthday Champ! You Are The Greatest!!

Writers Note

The career of Muhammad Ali was too big to capsule, plus everyone knows it. This was just to honor and recognize his 62nd birthday. The writing is not my best, but it came from the heart. It was just my small way of honoring one of the most important people of the 20th century. I just skimmed over many things, mainly because mostly all know the Ali story. There is nothing new or more to add. Just one man's small acknowledgement and remembrance.

Articles of 2004

The Best in Chicago Boxing Returns




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 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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Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List



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




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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