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Articles of 2004

Andrew Golota – South Pole Meltdown



Some think Andrew Golota redeemed himself when he fought Chris Byrd for the IBF title last April in the Garden. Some think Golota is a joke.

He was no joke when he won a bronze medal for Poland in the 1988 Olympics. He was no joke when he fled Warsaw one step ahead of the law. He was no joke when he turned pro on February 7, 1992 with a third round TKO in Milwaukee. He was no joke when he won his next twenty-seven fights, twenty-four by early stoppage, without a loss.

At 6'4″ and 225-pounds, Golota was big enough, and athletic enough, to compete with anyone in the division. He could box. He could punch. He could hurt a man with either hand. And Golota had a simmering malevolence which seemed as pathological as it seemed marketable.

Hurricane Andrew hit Atlantic City on May 16, 1995. It was his twenty-third fight, against a man named Samson Po’uha. Po’uha was a big, tough, resilient, free-swinging pug from the Kingdom of Tonga. He put a little hurt on the Pole in round one, but Golota fired back. The ref gave Po’uha two standing eight-counts in the second. In round three Golota blindsided Po’uha and bit him on the shoulder. Po’uha got spooked by the teeth marks on his flesh. Golota shrugged it off. The Pole pounded Po’uha and dropped him three times in the fifth round. A Golota win by TKO.

On March 15, 1996, Golota fought Danell Nicholson. Nicholson looked like he might give the Pole some trouble, but Golota was too strong, too scary, his fists too busy, his head too hard for Danell Nicholson. After eight rounds of battering, he was chopped meat.

That bout set up the fight between Golota and Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe. They met in Madison Square Garden on July 11, 1996 and it was a war while it lasted. Golota dropped Bowe in the second. Bowe dropped Golota in the fourth. Golota put Bowe down in round five. Then Golota lost it. He earned his ring monikers “Foul Pole” and “South Pole” the only way he knew how: by hitting Big Daddy below the belt. With Bowe writhing on the canvas, the ref disqualified Golota in the seventh. There was a race riot after the fight in the Garden.

Everyone thought that was the low point of Golota’s career. Fans stopped analyzing his power. Now they dissected his superego. But because a good fight had been shanghaied by his roughhouse tactics, a rematch was deemed a natural.

Bowe-Golota 2 was held in Atlantic City on December 14, 1996. Unlike the first fight, when Bowe was under-trained and overweight, this time he was over-trained and underweight. Golota, by contrast, pretty much looked the same, and pretty much fought the same, low blows and all. Bowe grew old in the ring that night and it was not a pretty sight. Golota was DQed in the ninth.

Golota had all the potential in the world, what it took to be the champ, but there was a chemical imbalance, an unhappy childhood, a thug ethos, a loose screw, which caused him to meltdown under pressure. But with boxing being boxing, the quintessential game of second chances, Golota was absolved and given a pass.

Golota met Lennox Lewis on October 4, 1997 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. With the decline of Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis was the man to beat. Many thought the Pole might give Rasta a run for his money, but Lewis landed hard and landed early and knocked Golota down. He struggled to his feet and Lennox finished him off in the first. Golota’s decline was now official.

Golota went from fighting Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis to fighting Eli Dixon and Jack Basting. Then Golota beat Corey Sanders, Tim Witherspoon, Jesse Ferguson and Quinn Navarre. Golota was punching his way back into contention.

The fight with Michael Grant on November 20, 1999 at the Trump Taj in Atlantic City gave Golota another chance to make his mark. Near the end of the first round, Golota nailed Grant with a solid overhand right. Grant’s legs buckled and he crumbled to the canvas. Using the ring ropes, he pulled himself upright, but was wobbling when the bell sounded. Golota chased Grant for several more rounds. Golota tired and Grant came on and dropped the Pole in the tenth. Golota got to his feet, apparently unhurt, but refused to continue fighting.

Golota chalked up wins against Marcus Rhode and Orlin Norris, setting up a big fight with Mike Tyson on October 20, 2000 at The Palace in Auburn Hills. That bout was ballyhooed from sea to shining sea as the greatest thing since the Second Coming and expectations were higher than they should have been under the circumstances. Tyson glared and Golota cowered at the opening bell. After landing some bombs and drawing first blood, Mike decked Andrew at the end of round one. Golota endured more punishment in the second, then quit in his corner between rounds.

Golota retired for two years. He returned to active duty in 2003 and won two bouts. Golota approached Don King and begged the promoter to take him on. King knows a thing or two about second chances and embraced Andrew like a long lost son, which led to the draw with Chris Byrd at the Garden. Because of that performance, because he broke no rules, Golota earned another shot at another crown.

This Saturday in New York City he meets WBA champion John Ruiz. Unlike Byrd, Ruiz rumbles, he doesn’t box, and he has made saner men than Golota blow their cool. We will see how the Pole contends, if the Pole contends, with the idiosyncrasies of the Quiet Man.

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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