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Articles of 2004

Heavyweight Boxing: Would Fewer Rounds Make Better Fights?

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I may be completely off my rocker, or partially influenced by a coffee buzz so strong it can illicit more creative thoughts than “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” did for our forefathers, but instead of the occasional banter about extending championship fights to 15 rounds as was the case in the past, wouldn’t we see more exciting and therefore better fights if they fought fewer rounds? At the heavyweight level we would.

At least until a 6’5” 250-pound long-distance runner wins a marathon you are going to have a hard time convincing me that bigger is better when it comes to anything long-distance, whether that distance is timed or linear. Professional championship fights are slated for twelve rounds and when you have the ‘new generation’ of super-sized heavyweights throwing arm punches at each other for 36-minutes, it can sometimes take the sweetness out of the science of boxing and leave fans sour.

In bouts today it often seems as if fighters are doing what they can early and then saving themselves and their energy to survive until the late rounds by filling us with punch-and-hold dances for the middle 4-8 rounds of a fight. If there were fewer rounds and heavyweight boxers didn’t have to first concern themselves with having to maintain the staying power to go the distance, they surely would be more likely to let it all hang out for a greater portion of the bout.

Those who do try to give it all they have in every round are often gassed by the seventh round and hit survival mode to close the show. As they tire their punching power also diminishes and as that fades so does the excitement level of the entire fight. 6’ 6” Jameel ‘Big Time’ McCline lugged his massive 270-pound frame around the Madison Square Garden ring for 12 rounds recently against 6’ 0 214-pound Chris Byrd in a case that proves the point.

McCline dominated the November 13th fight in the early going and even had Byrd knocked down in the second round. By the sixth stanza the 6-furlong sprint had materialized into a 1.5-mile derby and Byrd ran away with the victory. Byrd had more energy in the second half of the fight and boxed his way to a split-decision win.

While I have a ton of respect for Chris Byrd and his boxing ability, it would be inappropriate not to mention that he is a fighter many people do not enjoy watching at the heavyweight level. He isn’t a big, strong, knockout puncher, but rather a slick, moving, aesthetically pleasing boxer. When guys go into the ring qualifying as a ‘heavyweight’, fans want to see big men hitting each other hard. What you get with Byrd is a smaller guy not hitting hard, but punching effectively, showing stylish footwork and tight defense. What you get with many heavyweights these days is a lot of clutching and grabbing after the first minute of each round.

Before the fight with McCline, Byrd was asked about how he was received in the heavyweight division. His response was that “Most boxing fans don’t understand the sport. They just want to see brawls and knockouts.” He was right, and suddenly this crazy notion of less being more may not be so off the mark after all.

As go the heavyweights so goes the popularity of boxing, or so “they” say. While I am not sure who “they” are, nor that they are correct, it is undeniable that exciting heavyweight bouts are not all that common.

On the same card as the aforementioned Byrd-McCline tilt, fans also had to sit through a jab-n-grab bout between John Ruiz and Andrew Golota and a retirement party of Larry Donald playing ‘patty cake’ on Evander Holyfield’s mug for twelve rounds. The most exciting fight that night was Hasim Rahman coming in lighter than he has in years and throwing more punches than he has in years as he stopped Kali Meehan after just four rounds. The fans were pleased.

As long as heavyweights continue to be sold and packaged in jumbo sizes the problem will persist, at least until fans of the big boys appreciate boxers such as Chris Byrd. Don’t hold your breath, that’s rather unlikely. Boxing fans are a beer swilling lot as opposed to wine sipping connoisseurs. Those who crack the cap of a can of lager aren’t likely to pull the cork off a finely aged cabernet sauvignon to savor its ‘nose’ or oak and tannin influences.

Generally speaking, fight fans of the heavyweight division would rather crack open a ‘Can of Klitschko’ than uncork a ‘Bottle of Byrd’.

The Economics theory, ‘The Law of Diminishing Returns’ – loosely translated – says that the more you have of one thing the less enjoyment you get from it after a certain point. My economics professor explained this to me in layman’s terms by demonstrating that the more beer you consume the better and happier one might feel (that ‘one’ being a college student in this case). However, after a certain amount of beer, the more lager you drink the less satisfaction you get out of each additional beer. Less can be more.

In heavyweight boxing the giant fighters we see today just aren’t designed to perform late in fights like the smaller men do—or how the smaller heavyweights of past generations did.

‘The Law of Diminishing Returns’ applied to heavyweight boxing says that after a certain point in a fight the more rounds we see, the less entertaining the bouts. As the big boys are the economic machine that drives the sport, it would make sense to maximize the entertainment value by minimizing the rounds down to eight, and maybe ten for a championship bout.

In the end I may be wrong, but my Economics professor would be proud. I did learn something.

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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