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Articles of 2004

Three Heavyweight Title Fights: What Have We Learned?

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We are now three quarters of the way through this month of Heavyweight title bouts. We've had one shocking upset, Brewster coming back to stop Wladimir Klitschko. One fight that went pretty much as expected, the Ruiz-Oquendo push, punch, miss, grab-fest. And one outstanding fight, Byrd-Golota.

The Byrd-Golota bout was really outstanding. It never fails to happen in boxing. When expectations are high, the fight never lives up to them. However, sometimes when the expectations are low, the realization exceeds the expectation which was the case in Byrd vs. Golota. I for one was very critical of this fight.

I hammered Byrd for taking it, I hammered King for making it, and I killed Golota for being Golota. Yet the fight turned out to be the only memorable one of the three that was fought on a championship level. I must say that Andrew Golota was never in better shape and more purposeful. This didn't surprise me a bit. Most felt that Byrd was the perfect fight for Golota to resurrect his career against. After all, Golota had a nearly 30 pound weight advantage and 4 inches in height.

That being said, I won't diminish Golota's showing. The fact that Byrd did make him fight the whole way and even pressured him mentally, shows that for now Golota's past is just that, past. It will be very interesting to see how Golota holds up when he's in there with a fighter who has the power and is a threat to hurt him or knock him out. One thing is for sure, we'll surely get to see it in the not too distant future. Another thing for sure is that both the career's of Chris Byrd and Andrew Golota got a shot in the arm.

What We've Learned In The Last Three Title Fights:

Lamon Brewster showed he is very tough and can hit, but questions still exist about the rest of his game. However, going from what he showed versus Wladimir Klitschko, he deserves some props and shouldn't automatically be omitted from future big fight consideration. Brewster's power and toughness make him a live dog against anyone in the division.

Wladimir Klitschko confirmed, at least to me, that his durability is definitely an issue and will hinder him from ever being the man in the heavyweight division. Wlad has a tremendous offensive attack, but in the heavyweight division there must be a strong beard as a last line of defense. I just don't think it's there regarding Wladimir, on top of that his confidence is shot. Every time he goes into the ring now versus a dangerous opponent, he'll question himself when he gets hurt or shook. This will only swell his opponents confidence and encourage them to raise their game. And in regards to the medical reports, I'm not buying them, at least not yet. As regimented as the Klitschko's are with their training and health, no way this just showed up. We know why Wladimir has been stopped by Puritty, Sanders, and Brewster. And it has nothing to do with Blood Sugar!

John Ruiz continues to roll on. Keep him away from an outstanding boxer or puncher and he's 50-50 to win on any night. Ruiz is one of the most difficult heavyweight's to watch I've ever seen. Yet he must be given some credit. He is a tough guy and gets out whatever ability he has inside him. We just trash him because he doesn't dazzle us with flash and brilliance, or awesome power that blows fighters out. That being said, Ruiz is a factor in this uninspiring division. No, I don't believe he is a major force in it, but he has to be addressed and can't be overlooked.

Fres Oquendo has shown again that although a skilled heavyweight, he just always comes up a Bridesmaid. He had Tua beat but couldn't finish, he was leading Byrd going into the last three rounds but didn't finish strong causing him to lose a close controversial decision. Against Ruiz he was boxing smart and was leading before getting caught and stopped. It's too bad he couldn't keep Ruiz off him coming down the stretch, because after the third round he discovered that Ruiz had no answer for his jab. I actually had Oquendo slightly ahead when the fight was stopped. I was surprised to see that some of the writers next to me and the judges had Ruiz leading. I won't say it's an outrage, but I did think Fres was in control when the fight was stopped.

Andrew Golota has definitely resurrected his career. He showed up in tremendous shape for Chris Byrd. He fought a smart fight with purpose and determination. He exhibited the skill that many have talked of during his career. He is a big strong guy who throws good combinations and has some power. If Golota maintains his composure, we'll see him in some big fights down the road. Right now consider Golota a factor in the heavyweight picture.

Chris Byrd is the fighter I've been impressed with the most so far over the past two weekends of championship boxing. Look, we all know that he is a slick and cunning boxer. He is the master at taking away his opponents strength's. However, what I'm starting to notice is that he is a fighter in the purest form. This guy is as tough as they come both mentally and physically, this cannot be denied or overlooked! Byrd as usual accepts a fight with anybody who comes down the pike who is a perceived threat.

In his last fight he faced a very big and strong, and most importantly focused Andrew Golota. In fact Golota put pressure on Byrd in this fight and used all of his physical advantages and strengths to try and break him down both physically and mentally. And ya know what, Byrd was having none of it. Not once did I see Byrd really hurt or shook, not once did I see him have that look in his eye that said I wanna be somewhere else, despite the bombs that Golota was throwing and sometimes landing. Face it, Byrd likes a good rumble. The fact that Golota had 4 inches in height and 30 pounds in weight didn't faze or alter him in the least. Chris Byrd is a formidable fighter, not just because he's a skilled and smart boxer, but because he's tough. Muhammad Ali gets credit for being highly skilled, yet he won many fights because he was tougher mentally and physically than some of the best opponents he ever fought. I happen to see the same character in Chris Byrd, he is a fighter.

Quick Story: It was somewhere around 1997 while at work a friend asked me what I thought of Chris Byrd as a heavyweight contender. I said forget him, he's not big enough and doesn't have the power to be a major factor in heavyweight division. I said once he's in with one of the bigger, stronger more skilled upper-tier heavyweight's, he's done. They'll walk him down and go right through him. Obviously it was not one of my better moments in evaluating one of boxings best. I no longer work for the same company and don't have contact with that person any longer. Wonder if he thinks back and laughs at what I said when he sees Byrd coming off of fights like the recent one against Golota?

This coming weekend Vitali Klitschko fights Corrie Sanders. At this time Byrd and Golota have stolen the thunder from the other four heavyweights who have fought. Right now it looks like it's Byrd, Golota, and the Klitschko-Sanders winner moving to the front of the pack.

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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