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Articles of 2004

Going Against My Own Belief: Never Again

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In following Boxing for the last 38 years, I've developed a few core beliefs that I stand by and usually never deviate from. Such as a Heavyweight must have a great chin in order to become a legitimate all-time great. It's not how many you beat, but it's who you beat. Another one is who did a fighter knockout is more telling than his KO percentage. The one I may actually feel the strongest about is the belief that you can't accurately rank a fighter until his career is complete. This is something I feel very strongly about and usually hold firm on.

Over the years I've resisted the temptation to get caught up in the euphoria of the moment after a fighter scores a spectacular victory in a big fight. It's impossible to rank a fighter historically until his career has heard it's final bell. Had Sonny Liston been in a serious car accident after the second Patterson fight and never fought again, he may have been held in a higher regard than Joe Louis as an all-time great. Liston was actually that highly thought of after knocking out Floyd Patterson twice. Had Liston never fought after Patterson, we would've never seen him lose to Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. Against Ali we found out that Liston was somewhat of a front runner and couldn't handle a good boxer with speed and toughness like Ali.

The same thing applies to Mike Tyson. Although I never felt he was totally the genuine article because of his lack of mental toughness and character, had he retired after knocking out Michael Spinks in one round, he would've been ranked alongside of Louis and Ali. Had Tyson never fought after stopping Spinks, we would've never seen him get taken apart by Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield. Now we know that he does not belong in the same sentence as either Louis or Ali as a fighter or in an historical sense.

This leads me to Roy Jones. In February of 2003 I wrote a piece titled “My Problem With Roy Jones,” in this piece I outlined how all the hype around Roy Jones had escaped me. I also evaluated his level of competition and determined it was seriously lacking. In the piece I even said that I thought Sugar Ray Leonard at 147 was a better and tougher fighter than Jones was at any weight. Over the years I have had many debates/arguments with many fans and Boxing writers at some of the major fights in New York, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas. In a majority of those debates I was usually defending my opinion that Roy Jones is not all that some think he is. I always mentioned and insisted that Sugar Ray Leonard at 147 was the superior fighter to Roy Jones at any weight in the pound-for-pound rankings. I also professed that going back no more than 30 years, that Bob Foster, Michael Spinks, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi would have defeated Jones if all were at their peak.

When I looked at Jones' record and opponents I always came away thinking that if Foster, Spinks, and Qawi fought the same fighters that Jones did on the night he fought them, not only would they be undefeated, but they would've scored more knockouts. I was always firm on this, and never wavered. When I looked at Jones' record it was always the same thought, who are these guys. Other than Hopkins and Toney who did he really fight? Mike McCallum was 40 and shot and at the end of his career, and had fought his best years at 154. Virgil Hill was also shot and was taken apart by former Welterweight Champ Thomas Hearns six years before Jones landed the best punch he ever threw in his career.

In March of 2003, Roy Jones won a unanimous decision over WBA Heavyweight Champ John Ruiz. This is where I finally gave into the Jones mystique and overlooked the facts surrounding the fight with Ruiz. John Ruiz was a handpicked Heavyweight who had to fight under the watch of a referee who wouldn't let him fight his fight on the inside. By Ruiz not being able to fight a rough fight against the ropes and in the corners he my as well been handcuffed. Imagine Arthur Mercante breaking Joe Frazier every time he had Ali against the ropes or in a corner. Had that been the case, Frazier wouldn't have won a minute versus Ali in their first fight.

Then a funny thing happened. I actually grew tired of saying after every Jones victory that his opponent wasn't any good. I knew the Light Heavyweight era he dominated was paper thin, but still somebody among those fighters had to be pretty good. Finally, I started to come around on Roy Jones. In his first fight against Antonio Tarver he showed me something I always wanted to know the answer to, “how would he hold up on a night that he wasn't on top of his game versus a tough opponent?” Against Tarver I saw that this guy is really tough and is made up of some of the same grit and toughness as many past greats were. In the first Tarver fight, he sucked it up and won down the stretch pulling the fight out. That being said, I still ranked Foster and Spinks above him and felt they would better him in a head-to-head confrontation. Something I often repeated leading up to Jones-Tarver II.

Still, I thought about some of histories best Light Heavyweight's and felt at the least Jones was among the ten greatest. Probably between 7th and 10th. This is something I fought with myself over, but I just got tired of demeaning the caliber of opposition that he brushed up against continuously. So what I did was go against my own belief, I ranked Roy Jones before his career was finished. My mistake for not heeding my own advice. After years of being a lone wolf saying Jones isn't all that his press clipping profess, I give in and accept that maybe I'm wrong and I'm just missing it with him. Never again will I go against my own belief, regardless of how isolated it is.

I was in the same situation with Mike Tyson in 1986-88. Only with Tyson I stuck to my beliefs and feel that history eventually proved me right. Remember, I never questioned Tyson's physical talent, it was his mental makeup that I had serious doubts and questions about and felt that was the difference between him and the greatest of the greats. With Jones I was finally influenced by the overwhelming majority of fans and writers who were adamant that I was missing it with him. This is a mistake I'll never make again. Like with Tyson, I'll stand by my gut instinct and be proven right or wrong with out being influenced by the masses. Unlike with Jones where I tired of questioning every opponent after every fight and accepted that just maybe I'm missing it on this guy?

I remember having many arguments over whether or not he was in the same class as Michael Spinks. Never once did I second guess myself there. Spinks never lost to a Light Heavyweight and beat at least three fighters who would've beat Jones' stumbling block Antonio Tarver, in Marvin Johnson, Mustafa Muhammad, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi. I always admitted that Jones was flashier and faster than Spinks, but not the better or more versatile fighter. On top of that, when Spinks was finally stopped, it was by a prime Mike Tyson at his absolute peak in 1988, who just happened to be one of the greatest punchers in Boxing History. Compare that to Tarver of 2004 who destroyed Jones. Not a contest at all comparing prime Tyson to prime Tarver. The same Tarver who looked ordinary at best versus Harding, Griffin, and Jones the first time. And to take it even further, can anyone say with a straight face that Tarver could've defeated Spinks once in 10 fights? The same Spinks who took the best from Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Larry Holmes twice, and Gerry Cooney.

Seeing Roy Jones getting destroyed by Antonio Tarver reconfirms my thought that Spinks, Foster, and Qawi would have all beat Jones on each of their best nights. I'm not sure that I ranked Jones prematurely, but the fact that I have to go back and possibly reevaluate him will make me stick to my guns in believing that fighters should never be ranked until their career is complete. Roy Jones is the perfect example of why this is the only fair way to rank a fighter among the greatest of the greats. The career of Roy Jones may not be complete. What if he fights Tarver again and beats him. Or better yet, what if he fights Tarver again and loses?

To gain the best perspective on a fighters career, we must truly know where and when he was at his best. We also must evaluate how deep or thin the era was that he fought in. In order to make a balanced evaluation, we must have all the pertinent information. In all fairness, we can't possibly have all that information until the fighters career is complete.

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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