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Articles of 2004

Byrd and McCline: With Friends Like These

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Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
Ones we can depend on – Whodini

Chris Byrd said he wants to hurt his friend.  In a conference call with reporters Byrd stated, “I want to hurt him. I'd love to knock him out.”  Him is Jameel “Big Time” McCline. The two square off at Madison Square Garden on November 13th for Byrd's IBF title.

Much has been made about the friendship between the two fighters.  They have stayed at each other's houses and baby-sat each other’s kids.  Their wives are even closer.  “I think it's been harder on the wives than on us,”  Chris said.  The two families decided it's best not to have any contact with each other until the fight is over.

On the conference call, Byrd sounded relaxed and extremely confident.  McCline was a no show.  His handlers had no idea what happened to him and were visibly upset.

Several weeks ago, while appearing on a radio show, I was asked for my prediction. I said that I liked McCline to finally reach the big time, as his moniker has promised for years.

Byrd, perhaps the most underrated fighter of his generation, is a master boxer and very difficult to hit.  “If I don't want you to hit me, you're not going to hit me,” he claimed.  While he can be as elusive as Pernell Whitaker, I doubt he wanted to be hit by Wladimir Klitschko – over and over again.

Chris Byrd has proven that he's got heart on several occasions, including the beating he took from Klitschko.  With a swollen face, he insisted that he go out for the twelfth round against Klitschko, despite his father/trainer's desire to stop the fight.  The feather fisted Byrd had to know that he had no chance of knocking the giant Russian out in the last round.  Don't forget, this was at a time when Wladimir was deemed indestructible.

But for someone who makes his opponents miss as often as he does, at times he sounded like he has taken one too many shots to the head.  The excuses for his poor performances were about as believable as a President claiming the hump in his jacket was a result of poor ironing.

Regarding the Klitschko fights in which he was trounced by Wladimir and losing badly to Vitaly (before Vitaly quit due to an injury), Byrd declared, “Those fights were in Germany.  That's all I gotta say.”  While it's true that an American fighter needs to knock out a German opponent merely to get a draw, Byrd was getting soundly beaten by both men.  To his credit, he took the fight with Vitaly on two weeks notice and came down with food poisoning while in Germany, yet he still fought.

He also said he had a hard time getting “up” for fights with Oquendo and Golota – two fights that many people think Byrd lost.  Finally, he said his knockout loss to Ike Ibeabuchi was the result of one punch.  While technically it was, Ike was winning the fight.

The fact is that Chris Byrd, as talented and tough as he is (and make no mistake about it, he is both of those things) has a difficult time with big men.

And Jameel McCline is a big man.  He stands 6'6″ and will probably weight between 260 and 270 pounds.  Byrd on the other hand is more than four inches shorter and said he has to eat to get up to 210.

Chris Byrd hasn't looked good against anyone over 235 pounds since he beat Jose Ribalta in 1999.  Since that time, he was manhandled by both Klitschkos (244 and 238 pounds) and a 237 ½ pound Andrew Golota gave him a very tough time.  Meanwhile since the Ribalta fight five years ago, his wins have been against Val Smith (206) David Na'il (205), David Vedder (224), Maurice Harris (224) David Tua (233), Jeff Pegues (224), Evander Holyfield (220), and Fres Oqueno (224).

Unless McCline loses a limb and comes in at 224 pounds, I'm not sure Byrd can finesse his way out of this one.  Jameel McCline is not only big, he also has skills.  While he's not a devastating puncher, he can put them together and do some damage.  He was getting soundly beaten by Cedric Boswell in October of last year, but came storming back in the last round to win by TKO.

While Byrd is slippery, McCline is not some big lummox who will be lumbering around the ring after him. Jameel can box.  He's got a good jab and I'm not sure how Byrd will be able to mount much of an offense against him.  While Byrd may be content to make McCline miss and then counterpunch, I don't think that will be enough to impress the judges.

McCline has been known to freeze up in big fights.  After his loss against Klitschko, he told me he overtrained.  Since then, his trainer claims that some strange oxygen deprivation therapy sapped McCline's strength.  He also looked tentative in the early stages of his bouts against Shannon Briggs and Lance Whitaker.  But both of those men were big punchers.  I think McCline probably knows that despite Chris' stated desire, he can't hurt him.

While I believe that Chris Byrd is a very good heavyweight and McCline may simply be an average contender, I suspect that McCline is the wrong fighter for Byrd at the wrong time. 

The next time the two families get together, I suspect it will be Jameel McCline's kid who can say definitively, “My dad can beat up your dad.”

Jabs

Kostya Tszyu
Wow, did Kostya Tszyu look impressive, destroying a very good fighter in Sharmba Mitchell.  He now has to be considered among the top pound for pound boxers.  Let’s hope he stays injury free so we can see him perform more frequently.

George Kimball
Nice work by TheSweetScience.com’s George Kimball on his article regarding the International Boxing Hall of Fame.  When I received my ballot, there wasn’t one boxer who jumped out at me as an automatic.   I’d like to see the IBHOF adopt the same strict standards as the baseball hall of fame. Boxers who are inducted should dominate their era. Simply winning an alphabet title isn’t enough in my book.

Andrew Golota
I’m going with Golota over Ruiz.  But maybe that’s just wishful thinking so that I won’t have to watch John Ruiz fight anymore.

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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