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Articles of 2004

Marco Barrera’s Ultimate Challenge

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With his fourth round thrashing of Kevin Kelley completed, April 12, 2003, Team Barrera were riding high. Marco Antonio Barrera, at age twenty-nine, was fifty-nine fights into a remarkable career, having lost only three contests.  From the February 19, 2001 classic against arch ring nemesis Erik Morales – a fight Barrera lost by decision – through to his masterpiece dismantling of “Prince” Naseem Hamed on April 7, 2001 and into the fall of 2003, Barrera appeared the complete champion. If the Hamed fight had confirmed Barrera’s conversion to boxing fundamentals, and the June 2002 rematch win of Morales his maturing composure, the Kelley fight confirmed the widely held notion that Barrera, at featherweight, was unmatched, a consummate technical master of pugilistic power calculus.

Preparing for the Hamed fight back in 2001, Barrera realized as formidable a puncher as he was, he was also gifted in applied ring tactics. It had taken the sheer knockout threat of Hamed – and Barrera’s training staff’s considered opinion that beating Hamed must come via strong fundamentals and counter intuitive punching discipline – to remake Barrera. In a sense, just as Erik Morales was defining himself as a fighter moving from a purist boxer to a punching-boxer, so the left hooking, body punishing Barrera was morphing into a stylistically minimalist boxer-puncher.

The economy of Barrera’s boxing and the power it translated into decisive punishment was amazingly effective. Even the great Morales, when facing Barrera the second time, found himself winging in counter punches, generally punching from wider angles than he had ever before.  Though the decision over Morales raised questions, his November 2, 2002 pasting of Johnny Tapia, over 12 mostly one-sided rounds, further accented Barrera’s disciplined effectiveness and towering stature at featherweight.

Then came the November 15, 2003 fight with Manny Pacquiao. When at 2:30 of the first round the speed demon Pacquiao tripped down, called a knockdown by referee Laurence Cole, things seemed to be taking a familiar Barrera-like pattern. The king of the featherweights had started very aggressively, though early in the second Pacquiao’s laser-loaded right hand was finding Barrera’s forehead repeatedly. Suddenly, the speed factor that Barrera had trained to nullify was looming and booming. When Barrera was pummeled down and sat briefly on the canvas, he appeared to be contemplating his destiny as a prizefighter.

Beating ex-bantamweight and jr. featherweight champion Paulie Ayala has apparently righted Barrera’s fortunes. In fact, heading into his rubber match with Erik Morales – this time as jr. lightweights – Barrera puts the Pacquiao bout down to “having a bad night… all champions have bad nights and it was a bad night. Period!”

And therein lies the crux of this final installment of Barrera-Morales or Morales-Barrera, take your pick. We all know that fighting at 130 seems to give the decided advantage to the naturally bigger Morales; gradations of weight being manifestly important when talking about the lower weight divisions where 5 pounds equates to 25 for a heavyweight.

Without indulging in prognostics, the essential battle that Barrera must now wage, in preparing to give his maximum performance, turns on his ability to decide upon illusion-salted reality over delusion-spiked folly, and necessity over desire.

For ultimately, Barrera has always been the ultimate pragmatist, seldom needing the shield of workable delusions to move him past impediments or limitations. When Junior Jones derailed his career, in November 1996 and April 1997, he regrouped to find a new resourcefulness, which took him beyond his early championship standard as a left-hooking dominator. Boxing, for Barrera, is a complex interplay of self-motivational struggle and intricate artfulness. “Boxing is very demanding and I love the challenges it presents,” was how Barrera put it last week.

OK, we know he’s decided that the fight with Pacquiao was just a bad night, a one-time demise. He can and will perform better against Morales. Besides they have no secrets each from the other and neither can hide behind technical invention. There is only the raw hunger to vanquish the other. “Yes, we are both about the same speed, the same with power, so this fight will be won with heart.” At least that’s the premise upon which he’s drawn himself to re-encounter the savagery and bitter warfare that fighting Morales necessitates.

And Barrera believes he’s ready to win, ready to win thee decisive fight of his career. Or at least that’s how profoundly he’s put the case of necessity to himself, to his professional ego.

Team Barrera are convinced that Pacquiao was an unknown threat, not given all the attention needed. Morales can and never will be underestimated. Pacquiao and Morales are apples and oranges. This is the necessary illusion needed to quell the questions that swirled around in Barrera’s head, convolutions in the fog of war, as he sat on the canvas, in that third round in San Antonio. Being the champion he was, Barrera rose to wade back into the Phillipino typhoon and fight out his fate.

Those questions tend to linger, amplifying in the mind as reflective consideration. Beyond the money and the love of for this brutal business, why do I put myself through this glorious torturing? Marco Antonio Barrera will not dignify personal interrogation with anything like finalizing answers. Not until his days in the ring are over, after he’s given a full accounting of himself as a championship fighter.

For Barrera, there’s still plenty of time for glory, braving the honor of an ultimate battle, facing up to a consummate foe such as Erik Morales.

For Marco Antonio Barrera, his time remains now.

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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