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Articles of 2004

Boxing’s Black and Blue Horizon

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The Blue Horizon is to boxing what Valley Forge is to nation building. Both are historic venues, battlefields’ battlefields, where blood was spilled for a noble cause. The noble cause in Valley Forge was democracy. The noble cause in the Blue Horizon is the fights.

The legendary Blue Horizon is located at Broad and Girard in the heart of scenic North Philadelphia. Surrounded by gas stations, fast food joints and abandoned buildings, the Blue Horizon has had more ups and downs than a palooka fighting four-rounders. But the Blue Horizon has been a fight game mainstay for many years, and it’s still standing and looks better than ever.

The structure that houses the Blue Horizon was originally three row houses built at the close of the Civil War. It was designed as public accommodation for married couples, something genteel for Philly’s petit bourgeoisie. Times change and the building became a lodge for the Fraternal Order of Moose. A small ballroom was added. It had a stage. It had a balcony. It could seat fourteen hundred.

After a century of tea dances and secret handshakes and revival meetings, the sweet science kicked open the doors of the Blue Horizon in 1961. Over the years local fighters named Bernard Hopkins, Bennie Briscoe, Willie Monroe, Jeff Chandler, Matthew Saad Muhammad, George Benton, Charles Brewer and Cyclone Hart, the cream of a very rich crop of Philly fighters, squared off against pugs at The Blue like Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Antonio Tarver.

These days Don Elbaum is putting on shows at the Blue Horizon and it’s a good thing that he is.

The first match was a welterweight four-rounder featuring Philadelphia’s own Gary Drayton (4-10-1 4 KOs), wearing red trunks with white trim and fighting out of the red corner, versus Orlando Lewis (2-0 2 KOs), from Vineland, NJ, fighting out of the blue corner and wearing black trimmed with green camouflage. At the opening bell the men came out cautiously. They circled each other, felt each other out, traded jabs and kept moving. Lewis landed a solid body shot. Drayton landed a combination and danced away. Lewis caught Drayton with a blow to the head and Drayton hit the deck. He got to his feet, but Lewis landed and Drayton went down again. The ref waved it off at 2:11. A first round TKO for Lewis.

Bout number two was a four-round clash between heavyweights. Mike Dietrich (2-0 2 KOs) from Baltimore met Jermaine Livingston (1-1 1 KO) from nearby Trenton, NJ. Dietrich, in the red corner, is a southpaw in tiptop shape. Livingston, in the blue corner, is a flabby righty. The bell sounded and both men came out swinging. Livingston landed first, but Dietrich landed solid, so Livingston beat a retreat. A straight Dietrich left caught Livingston on the ropes and down he went. The referee called it at 2:43 of round one.

Two Philadelphia fighters got it on in the third fight. Welterweight prospect Steve Chambers Upshur (8-1-1 1 KO), in black trunks, met Darrell Crenshaw (1-1), wearing blue trimmed with black, in a four-round war. Crenshaw peppered Upshur’s face with combinations in the first, but when Upshur landed he landed solid. A close 10-9 round for Upshur. Crenshaw took over the second, landing more punches and the cleaner shots. Upshur played possum on the ropes. Crenshaw went possum hunting and won the round 10-9. Both men slowed in round three, but Upshur was the busier of the two. The fourth and final round was all Upshur. The scores were 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37. Steve Chambers Upshur by unanimous decision.

Fight four was between junior middleweights. Darren “Quiet Storm” Fallen (7-2-1 4 KOs), the hometown lefty from Philly, met Larry “The Gladiator” Brothers (5-3-2 4 KOs), from the nation’s capital, in a six-round contest. Fallen’s punches had plenty of snap in the first. Brothers could not get past his jab. Round to Fallen. Fallen landed an accidental low blow in round two, but controlled the action. By virtue of his ring generalship and effective aggression, he owned the rest of the fight. The Quiet Storm by unanimous decision.

The next fight was a eight-round cruiserweight bout spotlighting Emanuel Nwodo (14-3 11 KOs), aka Charm City Assassin, in blue trunks and fighting out of the blue corner, from Baltimore by way of Nigeria. His opponent was Imamu Mayfield (24-6-2 18 KOs), in the red corner and wearing black trunks, from New Brunswick, NJ. Nwodo has a punch which is a gift of the Gods and he landed hard and he landed early. Mayfield went down seconds into the fight. He struggled to his feet and beat the count, giving Nwodo another opportunity to put him down again. That was it. The ref called a halt to the action at 1:24 of the first round. The Charm City Assassin by technical knockout.

The final fight of the night was a ten-round slugfest between heavyweights Fast Eddie Chambers (21-0 12 KOs), wearing black trunks and representing the City of Brotherly Love, versus Louis Monaco (13-29-4 6 KOs), wearing black trimmed with gold and hailing all the way from Denver, Colorado. Chambers can box and punch. Fast Eddie has fast hands. But he is not in shape and has stamina problems. Monaco has fought everyone during his decade-long career – Vitali Klitschko, Lamon Brewster, Jeremy Williams, Monte Barrett, Fres Oquendo, Kirk Johnson, Michael Dokes, Trevor Berbick and Buster Douglas – and went on the attack at the opening bell. Monaco hits hard, but he punches wide, has balance problems, and looks like a shot fighter.

Chambers busted up Monaco over ten lopsided rounds. Monaco is tough, tougher than tough, tougher than any man needs or ought to be. He is all heart, all nerve, all raw bleeding courage, a man whose lot in life is pain, followed by pain, followed by more pain. Two of the judges scored the fight 100-90. The third judge saw it 98-92. Fast Eddie Chambers moves onto bigger and better things. Louis Monaco moves onto his next fight.

Last week’s fight card at The Blue had a little something for everyone. There were first round kayos. There were boxing clinics. There were sweet scientists and pugs. Before leaving the coolest building in America hosting the fights, I asked Don Elbaum how it feels putting on shows at the Blue Horizon.

“Every single seat is a ringside seat. That’s the feel you get here. You’re on top of everything. And I cannot believe the calls I get about coming and fighting at the Blue Horizon. I’ve gotten calls from managers and promoters in Europe – ‘We’d like our kid to come fight at The Blue. We’ll work out the deal with the money’ – just to say they fought at the Blue Horizon. It’s the most legendary fight arena in the world today. What’s it feel like putting on shows here? Hey, it’s a thrill. It’s an honor. It’s fantastic. It’s like unreal,” Elbaum said. “When Louis Monaco came in and I met him in the hotel, he says, ‘You know something? I fought all over. Boy,’ he says, ‘I never thought I’d get a shot to fight here.’”

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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