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Articles of 2004

Salvador Sanchez one of Boxing's Greats

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The sport of boxing has had more than its share of personal tragedies in and out of the ring, everything from boxers losing battles with drugs and alcohol, rape convictions and domestic violence, to the death of a fighter as a result of a beating during a fight. The first tragedy I remember as a fight fan was that of the great featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez. It happened twenty-two years ago last summer, August 12, 1982, when the car he was driving collided with a pickup truck, killing Sanchez and his passenger.

Like all tragedies that happen in boxing, the media went on a feeding frenzy. They were like a shark picking up the scent of fresh blood. The press was quick to report: “Salvador was returning to his training camp at around 5:00 a.m. when he plowed into the back of a poultry transit from a rendezvous with a mistress who remains nameless.” The thought was that he had done it before, but that the Popeye-like tough guy had always made it back before his trainers got up, and in turn woke him.

It was during the time in my life when I totally dedicated myself to being a true fan of the sport. Growing up in the 1970s, all the attention in boxing was on the heavyweights, Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Larry Holmes, etcetera. It was in the late 70s and early 80s that my attention was drawn to the lighter weight classes in boxing.

There were several great fighters in the lighter weight classes from that era. One of the greatest was Salvador Sanchez.

Born on January 26, 1959 in Santiago Tianguistenco, Mexico, Sanchez turned pro at the age of sixteen, winning 17 of his first 18 bouts by knockout. His first and only loss came against the 13-3 Antonio Becerra in a bid for the vacant Mexican bantamweight title, Sanchez’s nineteenth pro fight.

On February 2, 1980, Sanchez beat the reigning featherweight titleholder, Danny “Little Red” Lopez by pummeling the champ for twelve straight rounds. The fifteen round title fight was stopped in the thirteenth round, Sanchez winning title by TKO.

Sanchez made his fifth title defense on March 22, 1981 when he stopped Roberto Castanon in ten rounds. The following August Sanchez fought what most boxing historians consider the best fight of the 80s when he KOed 32-0-1 Wilfredo Gomez in eight rounds to retain the featherweight title. On December 12, Sanchez won a close fifteen round decision against Pat Cowdell, the British champion.

Salvador defended the title nine times, defeating six top-ten contenders in a row,  including a rematch with Danny Lopez. In July of 1982 Sanchez faced a relatively unknown novice with a 13-0 (10 KOs) record from Ghana named Azumah Nelson.

The title fight was a round by round battle. By the fourteenth round the fight could have gone either way. Azumah Nelson had only gone ten rounds five times to that point in his career, yet by the final round he found himself facing a warrior who could have gone another ten rounds. Sanchez stopped the very game Nelson in the fifteenth and final round of the fight. It was also the last round Salvador Sanchez would live to fight.

In forty-six professional fights Sanchez had 44 wins with 1 loss and 1 draw. He was only 23 years old.

In an interview with Sanchez shortly before his death, he said the Nelson fight was to be his last fight at 126-pounds. Sanchez and Alexis Arguello had tentatively agreed to fight at 135-pounds.

Although thirty-two of his forty-four wins came by way of knockout, Sanchez was considered more of a tactical boxer than a heavy puncher. Salvador was once quoted as saying, “The KO’s come through undermining my opponents.”

In Salvador Sanchez’s seven short years as a professional fighter, he accomplished more than many that fought twice as long. He was willing to fight all comers, a quality in too short supply twenty-two years after his untimely passing.

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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