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Articles of 2004

Jermain Taylor Faces Boxing Crossroads

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Jermain Taylor takes a big leap this weekend, going from worn-out Raul Marquez to still-useful William Joppy. Taylor, the phenom from Little Rock, Ark., has never shared the ring with a fighter with Joppy's credentials. He is a former WBA middleweight champion and, just a year ago, was challenging Bernard Hopkins – the best fighter on the planet.

Joppy failed, of course, but the toughness he displayed was memorable. It even impressed Hopkins.

In short, Taylor is taking a risk. Some young hotshots have passed the test when going up against a savvy, experienced, capable veteran. Others have not.

Here's a look at the latter – some of the more shocking developments in recent crossroads showdowns.

Marlon Starling KO 11 Mark Breland (1987): Breland was the most decorated amateur in United States history and, though he held the WBA welterweight title going into his first defense against top contender Starling, he was completely unproven as a pro. He won the vacant title by knocking out the ordinary Harold Volbrecht, a South African whose previous-most noteworthy outing was a title fight loss to Pipino Cuevas seven years earlier. Predictably, Breland knocked him out. But, in Starling, he was facing a talented counterpuncher who was a solid, complete professional. Starling had trouble with Breland early on because of the New Yorker's freakishly long reach. But Hartford, Connecticut's “Magic Man” finally caught up with the weak-chinned Breland, stopping him in the 11th round. The pair fought to a draw eight months later. Starling went on to a career-defining win over Lloyd Honeyghan, as he was one of the most underappreciated fighters of the 1980s. Breland managed some noteworthy wins, but never came close to reaching his enormous potential.

Bobby Czyz KO 5 Andrew Maynard (1990): It was Czyz who started out as the young matinee idol, as an undefeated middleweight brought along in Main Events' stable of “Tomorrow's Champions”. But, by the time he met Maynard, he was thought to have seen better days. He lost his IBF light heavyweight title to “Prince” Charles Williams in 1987, lost a rematch, dropped a decision to Virgil Hill in '89 and was upset by Dennis Andries later that year. Maynard, meanwhile, had won a medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and was expected to use the former champ as a steppingstone. But Czyz used his experience and smarts to easily defeat a fighter who wasn't nearly as good as people thought. Czyz went on to win the WBA cruiserweight title in an overachieving career. Maynard disappeared after getting knocked out by Thomas Hearns in 1993.

Booker T. Word KO 2 Anthony Hembrick (1991): Hembrick was yet another Olympic hotshot, but one with an interesting story. A favorite to win the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Hembrick missed the bus – literally – on his way to his first round fight and thus missed out on his Olympic dream. His lack of common sense was evident before his showdown with Word, a bruising puncher who was strong but limited. Hembrick, undefeated at the time, was expected to box circles around Word. The favorite's supreme confidence was evident on his choreographed walk to the ring, as he engaged in a ludicrous dance routine with members of his boorish entourage. Word made him pay, knocking him into tomorrow with a blistering assault that ruined Hembrick forever. Neither fighter did anything of note after that, but Word will always be remembered for knocking out someone who probably deserved to be knocked out.

Willy Salazar KO 7 Danny Romero (1995): Romero was an undefeated teenager from Albuquerque who became the first American in 85 years to win a flyweight title, as he beat Francisco Tejedor in April 1995. As future fights were being discussed, most notably a showdown with Albuquerque rival Johnny Tapia, Romero took a tuneup fight against unheralded veteran Salazar. The unknown fighter shocked Romero by shutting his eye with his jab and punishing him as the fight wore on. The fight was mercifully stopped in the 7th, and it appeared Romero was ruined. But he eventually came back, and he and Tapia finally met two years later. Tapia won a decision. Salazar remained a useful trialhorse.

Jesse James Leija NC 5 Hector Camacho Jr. (2001): Camacho Jr. was pretty much like his nutty father, Hector Sr., especially in the ring, where his penchant for safety-first boxing was often maddening. Camacho backpedaled, he slapped, he tied opponents up. But he won, usually by dreadfully-dull decision against less-than-sterling opposition. Nevertheless, he was undefeated going into the fight with Leija, who was considered used goods after a long, illustrious career. But, on Leija's birthday, he roughed the younger man up through five rounds before the fight was called in the fifth round. It appeared that Camacho Jr. simply didn't want to continue, but the fight was somehow ruled a no contest. Camacho has, predictably, turned into nothing special. Leija has staged his umpteenth comeback and will meet Arturo Gatti in January. He will once again be a big underdog.

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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