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Articles of 2004

Time to Step up for Calzaghe and Hatton

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This weekend in Scotland, WBO super middleweight titlist Joe Calzaghe defends his crown against Kabary Salem. At one time Calzaghe was thought of as a rising star who would carry on the legacy of other European standouts like Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Steve Collins, who all had distinguished runs as super middleweights. Unfortunately, his run as a 168-pound titlist, has been anything but super. Unlike the above mentioned trio, instead of engaging in defining fights, in recent years he has too often engaged in meaningless title defenses against guys named Mger Mkrtchian, Tocker Pudwill, Miguel Jimenez and Will McIntrye.

Every once in awhile the talented Calzaghe will take on a recognizable name like a Byron Mitchell, Charles Brewer or Richie Woodhall. But that's as high as the tide has gone in his career, which is now being defined more and more by unfulfilled promise and unmade fights.

This past summer he was to have taken on Glen Johnson for the WBC light heavyweight championship. But eventually Calzaghe would pull out and Johnson would then go onto face Roy Jones – and proceed to knock him out in September. I guess it's true, one of the secrets of succeeding in life is just showing up and being there.

Johnson was ready and willing, Calzaghe wasn't. Now, Johnson is a fighter that matters, Calzaghe an afterthought.

The shame is that Calzaghe is a talented boxer, who many still consider to be the best super middleweight on the planet – something I still agree with. And he's only 31 years old. It's a bit premature to say that he's died on the vine, but it's clear, he's been ripe for a long time.

And unlike past years you can't say he doesn't have any challenges at 168 pounds, which is historically a shallow division. Now there is a Jeff Lacy, who just recently won the IBF title with an impressive performance against the solid Syd Vanderpool, and WBC interim champion Danny Green. Both Lacy and Green bring exciting styles to the table and are ready and willing to make fights.

In many respects what is going on with Calzaghe mirrors what is happening with junior welterweight Ricky Hatton, who like his stablemate has built up a record of 37-0 and a history of drawing well in Europe. Hatton, it's been said, could fight a cadaver and sell out the M.E.N Arena in his hometown of Manchester, England.

But unfortunately, as he continues to skirt real opposition, like Calzaghe, he is becoming more and more of a regional fighter, whose fights hold little interest to those outside that area.

I used to joke that Hatton was feasting on Sharmba Mitchell leftovers, as he had a habit of facing fighters after they had lost to the respected Mitchell. But look at his mark. His last bout was a fifth round stoppage of Michael Stewart – who had just lost to Mitchell – and Carlos Vilches, Ben Tackie and Vince Phillips were beaten by Hatton soon after they had been vanquished by Mitchell.

Hatton was supposed to face Mitchell in June as they co-headlined an April doubleheader on Showtime, as a prelude to their collision course. But alas, negotiations bogged down and Mitchell took a tune-up fight on his way to a rematch with Kostya Tszyu. As for Hatton, well, he went on to beat Vilches and Stewart (Mitchell leftovers) and as of now has no real plans of taking on any of the other marquee junior welters.

Like Calzaghe, Hatton looks to be a guy that can really fight and he has an all-out action style that is pleasing to the eye. But as his career moves on without any meaningful contests, he moves further and further from the consciousness of the boxing public. Even his loyal fans in Manchester seem to be running out of patience with their favorite son.

The bond that both Calzaghe and Hatton both share is that they are promoted by one Frank Warren, the most dominant promoter in Europe. Who in addition to being their promoter, also doubles as their manager – which is perfectly legal in Europe.

Warren and his crew bristle at any criticism of the way they have moved the careers of Calzaghe and Hatton. They've been known to send emails threatening lawsuits against  those that question their moves. What's even sadder is that those in England actually take those threats seriously. I guess his company really is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in England.

But this cannot be denied – while he has continued to milk his cash cows dry, he milked it so dry that Showtime, which in the past had continually broadcast their fights back to the States, has run out of patience with Warren and currently has no plans of showing any of their future fights till they step up.

Which means they may not be in the Calzaghe or Hatton business anytime soon.

As a manager Warren is doing his job. Taking the path of least resistance and making the easiest fights for the most money for his boxers. But in doing his job as a manager, he may have hurt his own cause as a promoter.

Plenty of big fights are being made in the game of boxing, meanwhile Calzaghe takes on a guy who lost his last fight to a Mario Veit.

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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