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Articles of 2004

Boxing Good Guy Carlos Hernandez Returns

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Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you have never been hurt. To most people, it’s litte more than a catch-phrase. For Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, it’s how he prefers to live his life.

Anyone who has seen the former junior lightweight champion in action knows that what he may lack in skill, he will always make up for with will and heart. From his pro debut twelve years ago to his hard-fought points loss to all-time great Erik “El Terrible” Morales this past summer, Famoso has always left it all in the ring, ensuring that everyone who paid to see him fight always got their money’s worth.

This Saturday night in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 9PM ET, live from Mandalay Bay), Famoso (40-4-1, 26 KO) returns for the first time since his July loss to Morales, as he faces former three time world title challenger Juan Carlos Ramirez. It will be the first time in two years that he enters the ring without a world title around his waist. No matter to Hernandez, though. After all, it’s not the belt that makes the fighter a champion. At least not at heart.

“There is nothing more satisfying to me than finishing a fight knowing that I invested every last bit of energy in winning, or at least trying to win,” says Hernandez, in looking back at his career to date. “I know that I’m not the most skilled fighter in the world, but nobody can ever claim my heart in the ring. My fans know this, and identify with me because of it.”

Carlos is quite easy to identify with. He’s not your typical athlete, who is all about the money first and respect lagging somewhere in the background. Whereas most athletes – particularly fighters – believe that smack talk is the best way to market one self to the public, Famoso simply prefers to be himself. Like it or not, he is a blue-collar worker – both in and out of the ring – and dedicated family man. What you see is what you get. To date, it got him a world title, and more importantly, the love of more than one nation.

“The love I get from El Salvador (where Hernandez’ family comes from) has always been out of this universe. And it’s not that I expect it, being that it’s where my roots are. But for most, your largest fan base is where you are from. But along with El Salvador, I also get endless support from the Mexican fans as well. Even going into my fight with Morales, I would hear from many fans in Mexico how they love the way I fight. It makes me feel good, and it inspires me to train hard.”

So far, it has inspired him to fight hard for twelve years and counting.

Most people in America would spend their 21st birthday celebrating the fact that they are legally old enough to drink. Carlos spent it in a boxing ring, making his pro debut in Irvine, California, less than a half hour from the Bellflower area where he was born and raised. A testament to his toughness would be served that night, as he wound up with a draw after the first four rounds of his professional career.

Never one to give up at anything in life, Hernandez went back to the drawing board, righted some wrongs, and returned back strong. So strong, that he would win his next twenty-two straight fights over the course of the next three years.

After suffering his first loss in the pro ranks – a ten round decision to Aaron Zarate – Famoso would run off another four wins in a row, one of which came against former featherweight champion Gregorio “Goyo” Vargas. In addition to facing the toughest test of his career in the ring, Famoso would also have to deal with adversity outside of it.

Earlier in the day, Famoso’s longtime trainer and manager Jackie McCoy passed away after a long battle with cancer. Rather than postpone the fight and mourn his death, Famoso elected to fight one, as he believed that’s the way Jackie would have liked it. He must have, as Hernandez fought as if someone up there liked him, scoring the biggest win of his career in decisioning Vargas.

Two wins later, Famoso would face another famous Hernandez – Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez, who earlier in the year beat the legendary Azumah Nelson to start his second reign as world champion. The world title shot was the first for Famoso, and he made the most of it. The fighting Hernandez’ went to war, delivering one of the best fights of the year, highlighted by a time capsule-worthy ninth round which many considered at the time to be a top contender for round of the year. In the end, Chicanito was still champion, but Famoso had captured the hearts of many.

Despite failing to bring home a world title, Famoso was treated like royalty in returning to El Salvador, where he had spent many of his summers as a child. The country named Famoso it’s top sportsman for the first of three times, and the city of Soyapongo named him as their greatest son.

To repay the nation, Famoso fought his next fight in Cuzcatlecas, San Salvador, defeating Roberto Avila in front of 15,000 rabid fans. Hell of a way to make a comeback, wouldn’t you say?

After putting together an eight-fight winning streak, Famoso would receive a second shot at the WBC title that he had craved his entire fighting lifetime. “Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted the WBC title.”

Now being a 30-year old kid, Famoso’s second shot at his favorite alphabet strap would come against one of boxing’s best, undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Floyd himself was coming off of the biggest win of his career, a ten-round thrashing against undefeated murderous-punching Diego “Chico” Corrales. Carlos knew that he had a huge task at hand, especially with the fight taking place in Grand Rapids, MI, where Floyd was born and raised.

For the second time in four years, Famoso fell short of realizing his dream as he dropped a wide unanimous decision to Mayweather. He did gain a moral victory, as to date he is still the only fighter to score an official knockdown over Pretty Boy Floyd – even if Floyd never went down from a punch. Well, actually he did – he was punching Famoso and injured his hand so bad, that he was forced to take a knee and the ensuing eight count.

As with his previous world title loss, Famoso returned back to San Salvador to get back in the W column. He did just that, forcing Juan Angel Macias to quit on his stool shortly before the start of the ninth round.

After a pair of wins in 2002, the biggest break of Famoso’s career would come along. IBF junior lightweight champion Steve Forbes was forced to give up his crown when he weighed in over the limit for what was to be a title defense against David Santos in August 2002. Had Santos won the fight, he would have won the title. He didn’t, but would get a second chance when Forbes was stripped immediately after the fight.

Forbes and Hernandez met in the co-feature of promoter Bob Arum’s inaugural “Latin Fury” pay-per-view show. The series was designed to give additional exposure to the lower weight Latino fighters.  Famoso took full advantage of the opportunity, outfighting Santos in a closely contested battle.  A nasty gash caused by one of the bout’s many headbutts forced Santos to be at the mercy of the referee, who stopped the contest after eight rounds.  To the joy of many in the crowd, particularly El Salvador President Francisco Flores, Famoso had put enough rounds in the bank to secure a unanimous decision, thus becoming the first fight of Salvadorian descent to win a world title.

They say you always remember your first, no matter what that first may be. Famoso still remembers as if it were yesterday.

“The thrill of having so many fans from my hometown was exciting enough. But to not only win your first world title, but have the President of El Salvador personally congratulate you… I mean, how do you ever top that in life?”

You go ahead and defend your title, which is exactly what Famoso did eight months later. His first defense was against Forbes, who still believed that he was the rightful owner of the title since he never lost it in the ring. Hernandez took care of that, overcoming a rocky start to dominate from the middle rounds on, behind the strength of a relentless body attack. For the second straight title fight, a cut would bring a premature halt to the bout. Well, that and a little bit of drama from renowned cutman Miguel Diaz, who could be overheard at the end of the tenth round yelling, “Oh I can’t fix this.” It was enough to draw the attention of referee Pat Russell, who shortly thereafter decided that the fight should be stopped.

Once the scorecards were read, Hernandez was the rightful owner of the IBF crown, whether Forbes liked it or not – and he didn’t, as he filed a protest days later. As suspected, the bid was unsuccessful.

While waiting out the winner of the scheduled February 2004 fight between WBC titlist Jesus Chavez and Erik Morales, Hernandez would find new cause to celebrate. In December 2003, Carlos and his wife Veronica – who also serves as Famoso’s manager – gave birth to a baby boy, Christian.

That moment – more so than any fight – remains the defining moment in Hernandez’ life.

“I don’t care what I will go on to achieve in the ring, in life, anywhere – there is no greater joy in my life than being a proud husband and father.”

Unfortunately, he could not provide a win in the biggest fight of his career, a unification showdown against Morales this past July. Despite an incredible display of courage and determination throughout, Hernandez rarely had answers for Morales, as he lost a wide unanimous decision and his IBF crown. Not to mention losing a fight with the WBC title on the line for the third time in his career. For the first time in his career, losing was a bitter pill to swallow.

“About two months” is the amount of time Hernandez says was needed to emotionally recover. “Obviously, I was feeling pretty sad – not just for me, but for my countrymen. But afterward, I was inspired to come back by my many fans.”

It was that love that brings him back this Saturday night, where he prepares for Ramirez (33-6, 13KO) in his first fight since July. It’s not the dream fight he clamored for, at least not a month before his 34th birthday. But it’s still another day where he gets to practice his trade, which is always a good thing.

“More than anything else, I’m happy to be on this show and this pay-per-view card. It’s a pleasure to be on a great card like this (with WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko facing Danny Williams in the main event), especially after my gereat pay-per-view battle with Erik Morales. I am coming back to do battle against Juan Carlos Ramirez and I plan to do best – win.”

At least do what he does best in the ring. As he has already proven that as good of a fighter he is, Carlos is even better at being a family man.

“People got on my case for having my wife and son in training camp for the Morales fight. But I still wouldn’t change a thing even if I had the chance. My choice to have my family there allowed me to train and still see my son in the beginning stages of his life. That is so important to me. Had I left them behind, it may have made me a better fighter. But it wouldn’t be worth it – I would rather be known as a better father and husband.”

And for that, he is still known as a hero to everyone else.

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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