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Articles of 2004

Featherweight Elio Rojas in a Hurry to Get to the Top

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The trainer thought something was wrong. The fighter had just left the dressing room and he was back maybe ten minutes later still dressed in his robe.

“You just left,” the man told Elio Rojas, a featherweight from the Dominican Republic. “What happened?”

An overhand right by Rojas knocked Corey Goodwin (3-1, 1 KO) down 30 seconds into their fight at Madison Square Garden on the under card of Felix Trinidad and Ricardo Mayorga. The fighter from Abilene, Texas rose on shaky legs, but Rojas (7-0, 6 KOs) knocked him down again with two left hooks and another right, and the referee stopped the scheduled four-rounder at 1:05 of the first round, sending Goodwin back to Texas with a story he can tell his family if Rojas ever fulfills his vast potential.

Rojas happily returned to the dressing room where he met a party of trainers and fighters waiting with bewildered looks that slowly turned to appreciation when they learned he had won.

“I see myself in him,” said Lennox Blackmoore, a former junior welterweight title contender and Rojas' trainer at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn. “That's championship material right there. He listens; he executes the game plan like I told him. He has the mentality that if you hit me and I'll hit you right back. In the gym, nobody wants to spar him. He has to spar two different guys at once- one in and one out every round because of how he fights.”

It may be appropriate to dovetail another talented featherweight on the heels of Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales' glittery bout on Saturday. One day, Rojos may inhale the same sanctified air that Barrera and Morales breathe – pay-per-view- air – but for the time being, Rojas is just another kid plying his trade on the underbelly of shows in remote locations. Still, Eric Bottjer, a matchmaker for Don King, who promotes Rojas, believes he has a gem on his hands, a youngster who is going places – even if it is a taxing process finding opponents for him to chew up and spit out.

“The guy looks like a young Tito (Trinidad),” Bottjer said over the phone on Monday. “He has that confident air about him. The guy looks like a fighter. He has good skills; he always comes in shape. He's a real professional.”

Perhaps a story about the difficulties in finding Rojas an opponent will better illustrate his appeal.

“I had to overpay one of his opponents to fight him one time,” Bottjer said. “It was a guy from New York who Bruce Silverglade (the owner of Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn where Rojas trains) referred him to me. The asking price was $3000. I thought about it and said 'sure.' Then Bruce came back to me and told me that the guy wanted $4,000 which told me that he didn't really want to fight him. The problem [with finding him opponents] is that people who know him don't want to fight him, so we have to fly guys up and have him fight in the Dominican Republic [where he is fighting next on December 9th].”

According to Rojas' manager, Antonio Tineo, Don King signed Rojas before his fight in October at the Garden. Normally, a promoter waits until a fighter has around 10 fights before offering him a contract, but Rojas has an excellent amateur pedigree, and Tineo says Rojas would have qualified for the Dominican Republic's Olympic boxing team and fought in Greece had it not been for a year suspension he received for taking an unidentified medication in violation of amateur boxing rules.

Tineo read about Rojas' suspension and flew out to San Francisco de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, where Rojas was living with his mother and uncle and brought him back to New York to begin a professional career. He knocked out Wilson Ramos in the first round at the Olympic Theater in March at his debut.

Prospects don't come cheap and Tineo pays for Rojas' apartment in Jamaica, Queens and gives him $200 a week and additional per diem for food. Rojas made $2,500 for the fight in October, and the president of the Dominican Republic promised Rojas a $50,000 apartment if he won on Saturday, Tineo said.

Rojas dedicated the bout to his father, who died three years ago from a stomach ulcer.

“I went into the ring with the attitude that I would knock him out,” he said through an interpreter. “I feel sorry for the guy, but I have been training in the gym for that punch. I came to this country to get the belt.”

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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