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Articles of 2004

Sharmba Mitchell: I have to be fast against Tszyu

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On Saturday,  November 6th,  Sharmba Mitchell is ready to finish the fight he started with Kostya Tszyu almost four years ago, on February 3rd, 2001. The title fight for Kostya Tszyu’s Jr. Welterweight belt was stopped when Mitchell was unable to answer the bell for the eighth round due to a leg injury. Kostya Tszyu was declared the winner by TKO.

As for Mitchell’s leg injury, there are conflicting stories. It’s been written that Sharmba didn’t want to go on after the 7th round and used the injury as an excuse to end the fight. The fact is Mitchell’s leg was operated on due to the injury he sustained during the fight.

Tszyu has had his share of injuries since his last appearance in the ring as well. Injuries along with surgery have kept Tszyu out of the ring since January of 2003, a total of 22 months. Both fighters are now healthy and ready to finish the fight that will determine if Sharmba Mitchell walks away with Kostya Tszyu’s Jr Welterweight belt.

I talked to Sharmba about his health, conditioning, and training for his up-coming fight with Tszyu.

When you look at the “Tale of the Tape” on paper, the stats for Sharmba Mitchell and Tszyu are similar in most, but not all, areas. The total number of fights for each fighter is Mitchell, 58 to Tszyu, 32. They both stand the same height at 5’ 7”. Mitchell has a five inch reach advantage and they both have plenty of speed and power.

But when it comes right down to it, the stats aren’t as important as what happens in the ring next Saturday night.

Sharmba told me, “My 58 fights to Tszyu’s 32 looks good on paper, but it doesn’t come into play when we’re in the ring. My ring experience does give me confidence, but it’s mostly my ring generalship and my over-all speed that give me confidence. When we’re in the ring, I’ll fight him like he’s been in the ring as many times as I have. I never under-estimate a fighter like Kostya Tszyu.”

When I asked him the obvious question about Tszyu’s 22 month layoff, Sharmba said, “The time Tszyu didn’t fight, I don’t pay any attention to it. I train to fight him like he never took a day off. As far as his speed is concerned, Tszyu is very fast. I think people underestimate his speed, and he hits very hard. I train for that and I expect he’ll be as fast and hit as hard as he always did. Just look at the Trinidad fight,” he said. “The time he (Trinidad) spent away from the ring didn’t look like it hurt him at all.”

I told him I understood what he meant, but Mayorga isn’t in the same league with either himself, Tszyu or Trinidad for that matter.

“Yeah” he said, “That’s why I can’t take him (Tszyu) for granted.”

Mentioning I have a few fight tapes featuring his fights, in particular his bouts with Ben Tackie and Michael Stewart, I told Sharmba how impressive his body attacks looked in both fights. Tszyu has been called a “Rhythm and Pressure” fighter, he likes it when he can set his feet and get punches off. But many believe Tszyu will not be able to do that against Mitchell because Mitchell will be in and out, side to side. I asked Sharmba if that would be part his game plan.

“First, I have to be fast, I don’t like getting hit. I’m too pretty to get hit too much, I don’t want to mess that up. Look, when I kiss my girlfriend, I don’t want her to be kissing some ugly guy whose face is all busted up. And yeah, I hit hard, I have to. I work on that a lot in the gym, but I’m just naturally a hard puncher. If I expect to beat Tszyu, which I will, I have to hit hard!”

I said to Sharmba, ‘In your fight with Ben Tackie, you launched an all out body attack, especially in the 2nd and 4th rounds. You did the same with Michael Stewart, knocking him down three times. At one of the post-fight interviews somebody asked you about rushing in for the knockout…you said you were too smart to rush right in…did you mean you just stuck to your game plan? And does that mean you plan to fight Tszyu more conservatively’?

A moment of silence on the phone … a chuckle … 2 words … NO CHANCE!!!

Assuring Sharmba I would let him get back to watching Oprah shortly—which is what he was doing when I called—I continued, “I’ve been told there’s no love lose between you and Zab Judah. Have you considered one day moving up to welterweight to fight Judah?”

“I thought about moving up to welterweight someday” Sharmba said, “But it doesn’t have anything to do with Judah. If I decide to beat him up, I’ll just go beat him up, but it doesn’t have anything to do with me moving up to welterweight.”

I told Sharmba, “I heard you don’t like to watch tapes of guys you’re in training to fight, is that true and why?”

“Yeah it’s true, I just don’t” Sharmba said. “I never really liked to watch tapes of other guys fighting. My trainer watches tapes of the other fighters, then I train the way he tells me to train.” Sharmba said he watched the tape of him and Tszyu right after the fight, but that’s about it.

I asked him if he had any thoughts on the Olympics. The U.S. Boxing Team only brought home three Gold Medals in the last four games.

“Scoring, it’s definitely the scoring,” Sharmba said. “It discourages the young guys and is a part of the sport that needs fixed.”

“When you fought in the Olympic Trials and lost to Kevin Kelly were you the youngest guy to compete? And how old were you?”

“Was I the youngest guy”? Sharmba said; “I’m not sure.”

“Well how old were you?”

 “16…yeah I was definitely 16”

After concluding our conversation, I felt I had to watch Mitchell on tape again.

After watching Sharmba fight with the quickness, speed and determination he used in both the Ben Tackie and Michael Stewart fights, he’d be tough to beat if he does that on November 6th. If, on the other hand, he employs the same tactics he used earlier this year against Lovemore N’ Dou, he could be in for a rough night.

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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