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Articles of 2004

What If Foreman Rumbled In The Jungle 30 Years Ago



On Monday night March 8, 1971, heavyweight champion Joe Frazier 26-0 (23) defeated former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali 31-0 (25), handing him his first loss in the biggest fight in boxing history. From mid 1967 through January of 1973, Frazier was only in one fight that he didn't control from beginning to end, and that was against Ali. During that six year run Frazier defeated every top contender in the heavyweight division, and you could count on less than one hand how many times “Smokin” Joe took a backwards step during a fight.

By late 1972, the Frazier and Ali camps couldn't agree on a purse split for their much ballyhooed rematch. So Frazier defended his title against the second ranked and undefeated George Foreman. In a fight titled the Sunshine Showdown in Kingston Jamaica, the 3-1 underdog Foreman became the undisputed heavyweight champion on January 22, 1973.

What Foreman did to Joe Frazier in less than two full rounds is almost frightening. In slightly over five minutes of fighting, Foreman knocked Frazier to the canvas six times, causing referee Arthur Mercante to stop the fight. In a matter of minutes, George Foreman destroyed Frazier's image as a great fighter. After beating Ali, Frazier's image was of him dropping Ali with a massive left hook. Now the image most had of Frazier was of him being lifted off the canvas by one of Foreman's pulverizing uppercuts.

Foreman stopped Joe “King” Roman in the first round in his first defense. Six months later Foreman successfully defended his title with a two round destruction of Ken Norton. Norton had just fought 24 rounds with Muhammad Ali in his last two fights, winning a split decision in their first fight, and losing a split decision in the rematch. Yet he couldn't make it through two rounds with Foreman.

After destroying the only two fighters to defeat Ali, Foreman defended his title against him. Foreman was viewed as being so invincible that Ali was thought to have no chance to win. Finally, after one postponement due to Foreman suffering a cut eye, he defended his undisputed heavyweight title against Muhammad Ali on October 30, 1974.

In an upset almost the magnitude of his against Frazier, (Ali was a 3-1 underdog) Ali employed a ring tactic called “The-Rope-A-Dope,” and stopped the 40-0 (37) Foreman in the eighth round. For years prior to fighting Foreman, Ali proclaimed he was the greatest of all time. However, it wasn't until after he beat Foreman that he began to be lauded with those type of accolades. In the ring where Ali gained his legendary status, Foreman lost his.

What IF Foreman Won

What if Foreman stopped Ali in the eighth round instead of being stopped? For starters, he would have never lost to Jimmy Young. George was not the same fighter after losing to Ali. He was full of self doubt, and question his own stamina and attempted to pace himself when he fought. An unbeaten Foreman would've gone through Young.

Ali went on to fight six years after beating Foreman, and was only stopped against a prime Larry Holmes, two months shy of turning 39. And in that fight, it was his trainer Angelo Dundee who stopped the fight in between the 10th and 11th rounds. So had Foreman stopped a 32 year old Ali, it would've been huge. On top of that, he was the first and really the only fighter to stop Frazier, and he did it twice. Frazier was stopped by Ali in Manila because he couldn't see out of swollen shut eyes. When he was halted twice by Foreman, he was badly hurt in both fights. Being undefeated with stoppage wins over Ali and Frazier would have carried a ton of historical significance for Foreman.

Had Foreman defeated Ali, the only fighter who would've been perceived as possibly having a chance to provide a challenge for him was the up and coming Larry Holmes. Had that been the case, Holmes would've fought Foreman for the title in late 1976 or by mid 1977, instead of Norton in mid 1978. The Holmes of 1976-77 hadn't yet developed into the nearly complete fighter he was in mid 1978. And Foreman would still have the pre-Ali meanness and mindset. Under that scenario, Foreman stops Holmes and in the process prevents him from ever becoming heavyweight champ.

After disposing of Holmes, who's left to confront and challenge an unbeaten Foreman? Dokes, Page, Tubbs, Cooney? It's very possible if Foreman doesn't get bored, he may still be around when Tyson arrives on the scene. How would that turn out?

History provides a little insight here. What we know is Foreman came back after not fighting for 10 years and, at age 42, went the distance with a 28 year old  Evander Holyfield—something a 30 year old Tyson couldn't do against a 34 year old Holyfield in two fights. On top of that, Tyson had a chance to fight a 41 year old Foreman during the summer of 1990. According to those who managed and promoted Tyson, he wanted no part of Foreman, citing that Foreman was a bad style match for him based on what he learned from the teachings of Cus D'Amato.

And finally, Foreman won the heavyweight title in 1994 at age 45 with one punch. In his return to the ring after a 10 year hiatus, Foreman was never knocked down or stopped. In his 81 fights, he was only stopped by Ali in his 41st fight in 1974. And Foreman was last hurt by Ron Lyle in January of 1976 in his first fight back after losing to Ali.

On October 30, 1974, had George Foreman stopped Muhammad Ali instead of being stopped, it's not a reach to envision Foreman going down as the greatest heavyweight champ in history. He would've had the credentials to rank among any other champ in history.

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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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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