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Articles of 2004

Boxing Novembers to Remember

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Three big fights will highlight November after what has been a lifeless few weeks for boxing. First up, on Nov. 6, Kostya Tszyu and Sharmba Mitchell will vie for the undisputed junior welterweight title in a rematch of their 2001 fight that Tszyu won by 7th-round TKO. On Nov. 20, Shane Mosley tries to gain revenge against undisputed junior middleweight king Winky Wright, who took his WBC title last March. And, on Nov. 27, old foes Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera will go at it for the third time. Each Mexican great has a win in the classic series. The rubber match will settle the score.

November has always been a big month for boxing. Here are four high-profile fights that had a profound effect on the game.

Aaron Pryor KO 14 Alexis Arguello, Nov. 12, 1982: This one was called the “Battle of Champions”, and for once a fight's moniker was right on. Arguello, the “Explosive Thin Man” from Nicaragua, had already cleaned out the featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight divisions, and he was attempting to become the first man in history to win four world titles in four different weight categories. But standing in his way was “The Hawk”, the WBA junior welterweight champion Pryor whose crazed style had made his fights must-see-TV – though no one was quite sure of the Cincinnatii native's quality. Because of Arguello's immense popularity in south Florida, the fight was staged in Miami's Orange Bowl, and it was fierce from the get-go. Pryor engaged Arguello early, but in the middle rounds, he switched gears and began using his rarely-seen boxing skills. Still, the exchanges were sizzling, and Arguello just about took Pryor's head off on a few occasions. But Pryor, the naturally bigger man, stood strong and attacked in the championship rounds. He trapped Arguello against the ropes in the 14th, unleashing a brain-numbing assault on Arguello, forcing the referee to stop the fight. Afterwards, a controversy erupted after Pryor's trainer, Panama Lewis, was overheard calling for a specific bottle with a special “mix.” But nothing was ever proven, though Pryor fell into a life of excess and was never really a factor again. Arguello retired and returned for a short-lived comeback. Neither fighter was the same after this war, which was called 1982's “Fight of the Year”. It remains the fight with which every great 140-pound battle is compared.

Riddick Bowe W 12 Evander Holyfield, Nov. 13, 1992: Both men were undefeated going into this battle for Holyfield's undisputed heavyweight title. But each viewed the ring as a proving ground that Friday the 13th at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Holyfield had won the title two years prior, knocking out an overweight James “Buster” Douglas in the third round. Since then, his heavyweight championship reign had been disappointing as he struggled with overmatched opponents George Foreman (42 years old), Bert Cooper and Larry Holmes (41 years old). Boxing fans were wondering what happened to the hungry contender who stormed through the division in earning his shot at Douglas. Meanwhile, Bowe was the #1 contender, bigger, stronger and more powerful than Holyfield, but with question marks of his own. Suspicions about his heart had risen after his loss to Lennox Lewis in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. And everyone wondered about his dedication, as his weight tended to fluctuate from fight to fight. Both, though, entered the ring in prime mental and physical condition, and waged a classic. Holyfield decided to go toe-to-toe with Bowe, and he held his own through eight rounds. But Bowe's size began to take its toll, and by round 10, Holyfield was battered and exhausted. A blistering right uppercut sent Holyfield to the ropes, and the “Real Deal” took a real beating. Somehow, he remained upright, and managed to rock Bowe in a thrilling end to the round. But the damage was done, and Bowe finished the job by knocking Holyfield down and winning a unanimous decision. For a year, Bowe was considered the division's new star – until Holyfield upset him a year later. Like Pryor and Arguello, Bowe was never the same after this fight. Holyfield went on to become perhaps the greatest heavyweight of his era.

Roy Jones Jr. W 12 James Toney, Nov. 18, 1994: At the time, Toney was in the prime of his career. He had upset Michael Nunn three years earlier, and proceeded to become the most important 160-pounder since Marvin Hagler a decade earlier. His 1991 war with Mike McCallum was one of the best fights of that year, and his uncanny knack for avoiding and parrying punches, while remaining in punching range, was a marvel to watch. He also had a knack for fluctuating in weight between fights and not always being disciplined in training camp. But he was talented enough to get away with it against ordinary middleweights. Jones was no ordinary middleweight. The world first saw his extraordinary hand and foot speed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when he was cheated of his gold medal by a bogus decision. But his talent was unmistakable, and after a slow start to his pro career, he won a world title with a decision over a green Bernard Hopkins in 1993. Toney, though, was considered the ultimate test, and the two finally met at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. To the shock of most everybody, it wasn't even close. Jones was superior to Toney in every conceivable category, and “Lights Out” had no idea how to counter his opponent's incredible speed. In the middle rounds, Jones put Toney on the deck with a left, and cruised to a unanimous decision. It marked the beginning of the Roy Jones era. He seemed unbeatable. And he was, until Antonio Tarver knocked him out 10 years later. Toney disappeared until 2003, when he won the cruiserweight title and knocked out Evander Holyfield in an improbable comeback.

Evander Holyfield KO 11 Mike Tyson, Nov. 9, 1996: Holyfield had what was considered an impossible assignment on this night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. He was out to beat Tyson, the WBA heavyweight champ whose career had regained steam after a jail stint in the early 1990s. This fight had been attempted before. The first time, in '90, Tyson lost to Buster Douglas, scrapping the fight. And the second time, in '91, “Iron” Mike was convicted for rape and sent off to the big house. By 1996, Holyfield was considered finished. He had looked horrible in a 1995 knockout loss to rival Riddick Bowe and a '96 victory over puffed up middleweight Bobby Czyz. And he was a 25-1 underdog when he entered the ring against a rejuvenated Tyson, who was coming off ferocious early knockouts of Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon for the WBC and WBA titles. He had seemingly picked up right where he left off in 1991. But Holyfield was miraculously reborn, and he fought Tyson on even terms through five rounds before taking over with his superior boxing skills. In the end, Tyson had to be saved by referee Mitch Halpern, officially ending the Tyson era. They fought the rematch in June '97, which Holyfield was winning until Tyson bit off two chunks of his ears and was disqualified. Holyfield had one more big victory, over Michael Moorer in '97, before finally fading. Tyson was never the same. Both, unfortunately, are still fighting.

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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