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Articles of 2004

Inactivity Will Defeat Kostya Tszyu

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Does anyone remember the 1995 NBA Playoffs? That was the year that the Houston Rockets, led by the incomparable Hakeem Olajuwon would sweep the Orlando Magic to win back-to-back titles.

But the defining play of that post-season involved Michael Jordan, who after a year-and-a-half sabbatical from the game—during which he left the NBA to become the Mario Mendoza of the minor leagues—had returned to help lead the Bulls to another championship.

In the sixth game of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls and Magic were locked in a tightly contested battle. In the waning moments of a close game, Jordan brought the ball up with the Bulls trailing—it was exactly the type of situation that 'His Airness' had defined himself by.

But this wasn't a finely tuned Jordan, this was a Jordan who had came off the back roads of America, taking 18-hour road trips as a member of the Birmingham Barons. Jordan's jumper in his return wasn't quite as accurate, his first step not as explosive, but even more importantly, those intangible, innate skills that can't be measured—like his ability to anticipate things before they occur—had dulled in his time away from the court.

As he dribbled the ball into the front court, Nick Anderson would sneak up on him like New York City pick-pocket and steal the ball—and the momentum—away from Jordan and his Bulls.

Eventually the Magic would win the game, and the series, to move onto the NBA Finals.

In the aftermath of his embarrassment, Jordan would eventually get his basketball legs back and regain his stature as the dominant force in basketball, leading the Bulls to another three-peat in the following years.

Which bring us to one Kostya Tszyu, who is one of the most accomplished prizefighters of this past generation. After a highly decorated amateur career, he would eventually become the undisputed jr. welterweight champion of the world, on his way to winning 30 of 31 professional fights.

Throughout his career he has defeated such respected luminaries as Zab Judah, Jesse James Leija, Oktay Urkal, Ben Tackie, Julio Cesar Chavez, Diobelys Hurtado, Rafael Ruelas, Jan Bergman, Jake Rodriguez, Roger Mayweather, Sammy Fuentes, Hugo Pineda, Juan LaPorte and Sharmba Mitchell, who he faces in a rematch this Saturday night in Phoenix, Arizona.

Tszyu, back in February of 2001, would defeat Mitchell via seventh round-TKO, as the slick southpaw from Maryland had to call it a day with a bum left knee. It was a close and entertaining fight with both fighters getting in their licks. It seemed that Tszyu was coming on strong, but you were left wondering just how much better Mitchell could have fought with a healthy set of wheels.

The return bout should be another closely contested match-up between the two best 140-pounders on the planet.

But it says here that Mitchell will gain revenge on 'the Thunder from Down Under.' And it's not so much what Mitchell will do, but it will be more about what Tszyu hasn't done in 22 months since stopping Leija.

And that's fight.

Since his win over Leija in January of 2003, Tszyu has been beset by various ailments that have kept him out of action. In fact, he's had two scheduled rematches with Mitchell postponed in the past year.

And while Tszyu has been rehabilitating various injuries, Mitchell, to his credit, has simply gone out and taken care of business. Since his own knee injury, he has fought eight times, and from the last time we saw Tszyu, Mitchell has fought fives against decent-to-good opposition, downing: Carlos Vilches (TKO4), Ben Tackie (W12), Lovemore Ndou (W12), Michael Stewart (W12) and Moises Pedroza (KO2).

No, he hasn't beaten any world beaters or anyone near the level of Tszyu, but there is something to be said about activity and staying sharp. Yeah, sure, Tszyu will tell you that during this time he has stayed in the gym and stayed in shape—and we have no reason not to believe him—but ask any trainer or fighter and they'll all tell you the same thing.

There's nothing like a real fight.

You can work till the sun goes down in the gym and spar thousands of rounds, you simply cannot replicate a real fight.

It's one of the immutable laws of boxing.

And no other sport is as dependent on timing and precision as 'the sweet science.' And in Mitchell, who possesses great speed and quickness, Tszyu is facing a fighter who is fighting at the highest level of his career.

And now for the rematch he's healthy.

But it will be what Tszyu hasn't done in 22 months which will eventually be his ultimate downfall.

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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