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Articles of 2004

With The Retirement Of Lewis, Is Vitali Klitschko The Man ?

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With the recent retirement of former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, it seems that Vitali Klitschko is being touted as the next champ. Klitschko may very well be the next champ. He may even be the best heavyweight in the world. But what does that really say about him or how good he really is? The word great is a word that I think is thrown around too much today. And don't tell me that I don't give today's fighters enough credit, because I do. I just don't term every fighter great who recently won a big fight. I have no problem paying homage to any fighter of this era who has truly earned the word great attached to his name.

Since Muhammad Ali retired in 1979, there have been exactly three great heavyweights. Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis. Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe were great talents, but Tyson lost the three signature fights of his career badly. Too me, you have to beat at least one of the best fighters you faced. Tyson can't say that. Regarding Riddick Bowe, he won the only signature fight of his career, but outside of beating Holyfield he didn't beat any other fighter who would merit him into the Hall-Of-Fame. Plus, his overall body of work lacks quality opposition and longevity. I'm sure many will have a problem with my view on Tyson and Bowe, but that's my opinion.

That brings us back to Vitali Klitschko. Is he a great fighter, can he ever accomplish the same feats as Lewis? I would say that right now Vitali is not a great heavyweight, but I believe he does have a chance to go on to achieve greatness. Another thing that must be said for Vitali is, he has never really been bettered in any of his fights. Against Byrd, he was leading before he had to pull out of the fight. Although I don't think he was ahead by as much as the judges had him up, he was still winning. In his title fight versus Lennox Lewis, he was leading when his severely cut eye caused the Ring Doctor to stop the fight. That doesn't mean he was on his way to certain victory, but he was leading at the end. When looking at the heavyweight division's top ten contenders, I believe that only Vitali Klitschko has a chance to rule the division.

Chris Byrd and James Toney are great fighters, but I doubt they'll ever be regarded as great heavyweights. Roy Jones is certainly not a great heavyweight. No way does beating John Ruiz qualify him as a great heavyweight. That leaves Corrie Sanders, David Tua, John Ruiz, Hasim Rahman, Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Carlos Gomez, and Fres Oquendo. I think it's safe to say that neither of those eight will ever be called great under any circumstances.

That is exactly why the division is wide open for Vitali Klitschko. After seeing his last two fights versus Lewis and Kirk Johnson, I can't envision any one of the other top contenders beating him. When looking at Klitschko as a fighter within himself, there are a few things that suggest he isn't all that. However, when you look at him and match him up versus the other top heavyweights, he looks very formidable.

Vitali is a very big heavyweight who knows how to use his size. He is not very fast or is he an outstanding boxer, but he has a pretty good jab and a good right hand. Vitali is very strong and going off of his performance in his recent fights versus Lewis and Johnson, I get the feeling that he believes in himself and harbors no lack of confidence. Klitschko also has shown the mental toughness that many thought he lacked after the Byrd fight. Along with being tough, he showed a very good chin. Lewis hit him with a few huge shots in their fight last June, and he took them as well as anyone could've expected.

What we have in Klitschko is a guy who is one of the biggest fighters in the division who I believe is totally focused on winning the heavyweight title. Couple that with some ability, power, a sturdy chin and desire, you have one imposing fighter. Vitali, like his brother has a terrific work ethic and always shows up in top shape. Something that cannot be said about at least half of today's other top contenders.

Another big factor that I think enables Vitali to possibly be the next man in the division is, who's out there to cause him any major problems? There is not an Ali or Holmes around at present who have enough size, speed, boxing ability, and toughness to beat him. There is no power house like a young Foreman who had the size and power to deal with him. Exactly who is the fighter who can present him as many problems and obstacles that he poses them?

We already saw that he's too big for Byrd, and I believe the same would apply to Toney. We know that he would be a nightmare for Jones, not that Jones would even joke about fighting him. Corrie Sanders may be able to compete with him, but he's not a good enough fighter to overcome the size and strength that he gives up. Plus, I doubt that he can turn the fight with one punch against Vitali like he did Wladimir.

David Tua has a punchers chance versus Vitali, but I'd bet my life that he'd never get close enough to land any of his bombs on Klitschko's chin. Rahman, not a chance. Rahman is a decent boxer at best who can hurt you if he catches you with the perfect shot. Vitali would control him with his jab and either give him a severe beating or stop him. Same with Ruiz. Ruiz leads with his face, he's slow and not a real good boxer. Klitschko is just too much for Ruiz no matter how you look at it. Juan Carlos Gomez is a pretty good boxer , but Klitschko would force him to fight instead of boxing and taking advantage of his southpaw style. Gomez ain't beaten Vitali.

Who's that leave, Fres Oquendo? Oquendo is a pretty good fighter, but he isn't really outstanding at anything. He's not real fast, he isn't a great boxer and he isn't a great puncher. I don't see how he would win. Klitschko would pressure him and push him back, making Fres either move away trying to survive, or standing his ground and trying to fight. Which would lead to his defeat.

Right now it seems there are Vitali Klitschko fans all over. Boxing isn't any different than other sports when it comes to its fans. Everybody loves a winner, or a perceived winner. I like Vitali and respect his work ethic. He respects Boxing and has shown much class in the aftermath of Lewis' retirement. However, I don't think he is a great fighter at present.

I see some significant holes in Vitali's game. If he was fighting among a different crop of heavyweights, I don't think he would be the perceived heir apparent to Lewis. Like I said when you look at him within himself and what he can do, his size and toughness are his biggest assets. In a different era and time, that wouldn't have been enough.

However, when you look at him and match him up with the rest of his contemporaries, the holes in his game don't look so big. He actually looks like the odds on favorite to soon be recognized at the world's top heavyweight. Vitali Klitschko is very good and will be very tough to beat, but he has not earned the high praise of being called a great fighter. What he has earned is the right to be considered the man who will succeed Lennox Lewis. If he does go onto succeed Lewis, than he will have positioned himself to stake his claim as to whether or not he'll be remembered in the same vain as possibly one of the greats. But he's not there yet. That's why he'll be under the microscope for the next couple of years. We all want to see how far he can go?

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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