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Articles of 2004

Joe Gans vs. Roberto Duran – What If

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Joe Gans and Roberto Duran were two of the greatest lightweights in the history of boxing.

Joe Gans, known as “The Old Master,” dominated the lightweight division from 1902 until 1908. Except for a vacated title by Gans from 1904 until 1906, he was in control of the division for six years.

Roberto Duran likewise controlled the lightweight division as the Undisputed Champion from 1972 until he vacated his division title in 1979. Although Duran fought in other divisions, he fought at his best as a lightweight in the 1970s and is best remembered as the greatest lightweight of that era.

The outcome of a match-up between these two lightweight greats might be the best indication of who, through the history of boxing, truly dominated the 135-pound division.

There’s no scientific way to match fighters from different eras. To keep this from being more than pure speculation, the best I can do is look at the fighters’ capabilities, defensive skills and how each would handle the other’s style of aggressiveness.

Known as “Manos de Piedra” (“Hands of Stone”), Roberto Duran won the lineal lightweight championship from Ken Buchanan on June 26, 1972. The fight itself was reported to be “A battle between a clever, graceful ‘boxer’ and a powerful fighter.’’ Duran’s right cross and left hook became his trademark punches. They were the main weapons in his arsenal of punches that ended fights early for most of the lightweight contenders that faced the wily Panamanian. Buchanan became a victim of Duran’s vicious combination punches in the thirteenth round of the first 15-round championship fight of Duran’s lightweight career.

On March 16, 1974 Duran set out to avenge a tenth round decision loss to Puerto Rican fighter Esteban DeJesus, the only loss on his record at the time. The 15-round title defense started with Duran being knocked down in the first round. To even the score, Duran KOed DeJesus in the eleventh round with his trademark left hook to the head, a left hook to the jaw and a right cross to the head of DeJesus.

After his fight with DeJesus, Duran defended his title later that year against Japanese contender Masataka Takayama with a first round knockout. The following year, March of 1975, Duran knocked out Ray Lampkin in the fourteenth round of a 15-round title defense to record his thirty-fifth knockout in fourty-four fights. After the Lampkin fight Duran defended his lightweight title six more times, including a third fight against Esteban DeJesus. That fight ended with Duran scoring a twelfth round knockout to beat DeJesus for the second time.

At the end of the year, at the age of only 27, Duran gave up his lightweight title to compete as a welterweight.

Joe Gans was known as “The Old Master” because of his near flawless technical skills, as well as his ability to go toe to toe with the best power punchers of his era. Gans was also considered one of the best defensive fighters of all-time.

Gans became lineal lightweight champ in 1902 by defeating Frank Erne, the current titleholder at the time; Gans won the fight by way of a first round knockout. Gans’ most notable war was with Battling Nelson in 1906. The fight was a classic championship fight between the two greatest lightweights of the era. It was to be a 45-round showdown for Gans’ lightweight title, but Gans KOed Nelson in the forty-second round to remain unbeaten as the Lightweight Champion of the World.

Joe Gans owned the 135-pound division until losing back to back fistic wars to Battling Nelson in 1908.

A match-up between Gans and Duran would prove to be one of the most competitive and evenly matched bouts between any fighters in any weight class of any era. A seventy year span in time would prove to be the biggest difference between these two lightweight greats.

In a 15-round title fight using today’s rules with three judges, no standing 8-count, and a 10-point must system of scoring, rounds would be very close throughout the fight.

With everything considered, Gans would win a very close 15-round unanimous decision over Roberto Duran.

Since the fight would have been so close, a rematch could have easily gone the other way.

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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