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Articles of 2004

Joel Casamayor Only Wants to Fight the Best



It was not the scales that drove Joel Casamayor out of the junior lightweight division. And it was not the competition. No, Casamayor left for a better opportunity.

Since defecting from Cuba in 1996, Casamayor had been a mainstay among the world’s elite 130 pounders. He has fought the best the division has to offer and has never flinched. But when he could not secure a rematch for a pair of controversial losses – to Acelino Freitas and Diego Corrales – it was time to move onto bigger and better things.

Those bigger and better things come in the formidable form of WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo. The hard hitting Mexican and the crafty Cuban go 12 rounds or less on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in a bout to be televised by Showtime.

“At 130, nobody wanted to fight me,” said Casamayor, speaking through his manager Luis DeCubas during a conference call this week. “Freitas said no to a rematch, even though I would have gone to Brazil. Corrales was supposed to fight us a third time. That didn’t happen. Castillo is one of the best. That's the reason we are here. It will be two warriors facing each other.”

They will be fighting for lightweight title Castillo regained in June. The questions facing Casamayor for this contest all stem from his rise in weight. Will he be able to handle Castillo’s power? Will the added weight diminish his speed? Will he feel comfortable at 135 pounds?

The five-pound weight increase does not have Casamayor (31 2, 19 KOs) concerned. In fact, earlier in his career, he fought as high as 139 pounds.

“I am in tremendous shape,” the former WBA junior lightweight champion said. “I feel stronger and faster. I won't lose any of my boxing ability. I feel I'll be faster. Remember, speed kills. Don't forget that. I feel really, really strong at this weight.”

Castillo (50 6 1) has already proven that he is really, really strong at this weight. Of the champion’s 50 victories, 45 have come by knockout. But he has also proven to be a capable enough technician to stay close with Floyd Mayweather Jr. over the course of 24 rounds. And while Mayweather is as slick as they come, Castillo has ample respect for Casamayor’s boxing ability.

“He's a beautiful boxer,” said Castillo. “I think he's a magnificent boxer. He's very intelligent.”

To that end, Castillo said he will “not let him think,” while pressuring the Cuban and throwing a lot of punches. That approach seems to suit Casamayor perfectly.

“I am a counterpuncher,” he said. “I love to see a guy coming to me. The difference between this fight and any other fighters Castillo has fought is that I can hurt him with both hands.”

The story of the 33 year old Casamayor is well documented. One of the stars on Cuba’s vaunted amateur boxing team, Casamayor compiled a 380 30 amateur record. He won a world amateur championship and in 1992 he outpointed future world champ Wayne McCullough to win an Olympic gold medal.

He was favored to repeat at the 1996 Olympics but walked away from Cuba’s training headquarters in Guadalajara, Mexico on the eve of the ’96 Games. Casamayor was bitter after Fidel Castro rewarded him with only a bicycle after he brought a gold medal back to Cuba. Respect is what created his mindset for defection. But he wasn’t just walking away from Cuba, Castro and Olympic glory, he left a five year old daughter, a girlfriend and his parents back in Guantanamo.

Casamayor said he watched the 2004 Cuban Olympic team in Athens and was impressed with their performance. “I saw a lot of great fighters,” he said. “They won six gold medals. They did the best they could.”

Casamayor’s 1992 Olympic team won a record seven golds, the most by any country in a non boycotted Olympics. Alongside Casamayor on that Cuban team in Barcelona were legends Felix Savon, Roberto Balado and Hector Vinent.

A pair of young Cuban southpaws who captured gold in Athens – flyweight Yuriorkis Gamboa Toledano and two time bantamweight gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux Ortiz – were very reminiscent of Casamayor.

“No question about it,” Casamayor said with pride. “Both of those guys were trained by the same trainer I had in Guantanamo. Yes, they have the same style.”

Casamayor has adopted that style to the pro game. And while he will always be more flash than force, he fights with a level of determination and pride that was forged over countless hours training in the Caribbean heat. In Cuba, he fought for medals, country and honor. His currency was his pride.

And while in America, Casamayor is compensated well for his efforts, that same level of pride is what allows him to bite down on the mouthpiece and punch back when the ring is spinning and the punches are exploding all round him. In a world class athlete, pride can't be bought with a six figure purse.

“I will win this fight,” he said. “If a knockout comes, it will come. If it goes 12 rounds, I am ready. I am ready to go 15 rounds. I came to this country to fight the best. Great fighters rise to great occasions. I'll fight anyone who they say is the best. I don't care who it is.”

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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