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Articles of 2004

April's Heavyweight Identity Crisis



During the month of April 2004 there will be three Heavyweight title fights, excluding the not to be taken seriously WBO title tiff between Wladimir Klitschko and Lamon Brewster. On April 17th IBF Champ Chris Byrd defends his title against the recently resurrected Andrew Golota, and WBA Champ John Ruiz defends his title against Fres Oquendo. It just so happens that Don King is the promoter of all four fighters participating in both title fights on the 17th. The following week top ranked Vitali Klitschko fights former WBO Champ Corrie Sanders for the WBC title that was vacated by Lennox Lewis when he retired this past February.

As George Foreman was recently quoted as saying “they can fill a big void but none of them can hold the sport up, none of them will be a famous Heavyweight Champion.” Unfortunately Foreman may be right. Not only does this current Heavyweight division lack depth, it also has no identity. It seems with the retirement of Lennox Lewis, the division is in dire need for some fighter to take it over and make it respectable again.

The Heavyweight division needs an outstanding fighter in it to carry Boxing, that is irrefutable. Regardless of how mediocre some thought their contemporaries were, Holmes and Tyson were able to keep the title somewhat respected. Holmes was a great fighter who had one of the best left hand's in Heavyweight history, which made it hard for any clear thinking fight fan not to see his greatness. Plus he had Sugar Ray Leonard underneath him keeping Boxing in the mainstream press and keeping the quasi Boxing fan interested.

As the Holmes era was coming to a close, Mike Tyson came along and bridged the gap into the Holyfield, Bowe, Lewis era. Tyson by himself kept Boxing on the mainstream Sports pages due to his combination of punching power and hand speed. And sometimes Tyson even put Boxing on the front page of the World's major newspapers for better or worse. The fact is Boxing had a fighter in which it could hang its hat on and declare this is our guy. He is the fighter we can be identified with for better or worse. At the worst people had an opinion. In order to have an opinion, whether it be good or bad, you have to care somewhat. This is what scares me. Who is that guy come the end of April who can possibly be defined as the future Holmes, Tyson, or Lewis?

Lets be honest, regardless of what happens in the Klitschko-Brewster fight, nobody on April 11th is going to be saying I saw the future of the Heavyweight division last night. If Brewster wins, Wladimir Klitschko will be looking up at both Mesi and Guinn in stature. If Klitschko wins, as expected, questions will still hover over him. Forget that fight settling anything.

The next title fight is John Ruiz vs. Fres Oquendo for the WBA belt. I certainly don't see the winner of this fight being the standard barer of the Heavyweight elite. I hate to rip John Ruiz, but he lost the title once to the Light Heavyweight Champ, all be it a great one. And hasn't fought a big time puncher since Tua. So it's not out of the question that he could get dumped again by either Klitschko, Sanders, or Golota. Oquendo is decent but just not good enough to be a major factor even if he beats Ruiz. Fres just doesn't have that one signature weapon that you can hang your hat on in thinking that he can beat the upper tier Heavyweight's that will hopefully emerge by the end of April.

The Chris Byrd vs. Andrew Golota IBF title bout will follow the Ruiz-Oquendo fight. Lets be pessimistic and say Golota wins. He definitely is not the fighter to bring any credibility back to the division. Not only did he quit against Tyson and Grant, he was destroyed in one round by Lewis back in 1997. The main reason Golota is a live dog versus Byrd is because he does have some skill and power, it's just that he makes Tyson look like the ultimate warrior when it comes to character and heart. The fact that Byrd is not a puncher will keep Golota in this fight much more than I'd like to believe.

What if Byrd wins? Along with Vitali Klitschko, Byrd has the best resume of all the Heavyweight's fighting in title fights this month. Byrd holds wins over Vitali, Tua, Holyfield, and Oquendo. And his two defeats are to the two fighters many thought were the future of the division at one time, Ike Ibeabuchi and Wladimir Klitschko. As good and as willing as Byrd is, the fact that he is not a big puncher or a seek and destroy style fighter makes it hard for him to capture the publics imagination. The average Sports/Boxing fan can't appreciate what he does in the ring. And lastly, only Muhammad Ali was a true superstar on the World's stage who wasn't a puncher. Byrd would have to beat Golota and the Klitschko-Sanders winner convincingly to gain acceptance as being the man in the Heavyweight division.

The last title fight in the month of April is between Vitali Klitschko and Corrie Sanders. This fight has one advantage over the others. It's for the vacated WBC title recently held by former Champ Lennox Lewis. Another thing this fight has is two fighters who the public just may accept provided they not only win, but perform like a champion. If Sanders wins, he'll have the fact that he can hit going for him which will make it easier for him to be accepted and taken seriously. And if he holds two convincing wins over the Klitschko's, it will add to his stature. However, he must beat Vitali impressively for this to be realized.

The fighter that has the most to gain and lose in this month of Heavyweight Championship bouts is Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko has many things in his favor when it comes to his body of work. He was the first fighter to stop Larry Donald. His two loses are to former Champ Lennox Lewis and current IBF Champ Chris Byrd. In the fight with Lewis he suffered a horrible eye cut which led to the fight being stopped, despite leading slightly in the scoring. Granted, Vitali may not have faced the same Lewis that fought Holyfield and Tyson, but he did beat Lewis up more so than either one of them did. His first defeat was to Chris Byrd when he tore his rotator cuff and had to stop after the ninth round. In the Byrd fight he was ahead in the scoring, and to his credit Byrd is one of the toughest guys to fight in the division.

The way I see it, Vitali Klitschko is the fighter who has the best chance to emerge as the fighter who may, I repeat may have the best shot to give this division someone to identify with. He's big and can punch, two things that usually always captures the publics imagination. He is also tough and showed against Lewis that he can take a good punch, another must for the Heavyweight Champion. And the thing that really looks good for him is that he fought the best Heavyweight in the world 10 months ago, and gave him nine kinds of hell.

I think that the only fighter who can possibly come out of this Championship month with a chance to bridge the gap from Lewis to the next generation of Heavyweights's is Vitali Klitschko. I know one thing, Boxing would benefit tremendously if one of these Heavyweight's makes a statement this month showing that he has what it takes to be a special fighter and possibly a great? I'm not sure that will be the case, but it would be a great place to start. What a great month to be a Fight Fan !!

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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