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Articles of 2004

A Boxing Holiday Season Wish List

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It’s that time of the year again, folks. You know, where it seems every wall, window and otherwise blank surface is festooned with gay decoration, where festive music is blaring from the speakers and everyone you see is floating around with an ecstatic, beatific look on his or her face, beaming in expectation of some imminent delight.

No, I’m not talking about the World Boxing Council’s offices prior to their collecting a world title-sanctioning fee. I’m talking your yearly Christmas, Kwanzaa, and/or Chanukah holiday, Skeezix.

So, let’s not stand on ceremony. Let’s get right to my holiday wish list . . . and this year it’s a real short one:

I want a dominant heavyweight champion.

That’s it. No Sirius satellite radio. No newfangled mp3 player (I still own 8-tracks, for heaven’s sake). No prime rib/cheese/beer/fruit of the month subscription either. Nope.  All I want is for a guy to come along and make me forget—if only for a couple of years—that we as a boxing community are counting on a huge, awkward 33 year old who still hasn’t learned to keep his guard up or how to move laterally away from a punch to be the savior of our sport’s money division.

WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko is a nice, intelligent man. He showed his mettle and physical toughness in that back alley brawl with Lennox Lewis. He has knocked down everyone they’ve set up (no pun intended) in front of him of late, but he’s no standard-bearer for the dreadnaught boys. He seems to be missing that intangible quality that separates a good, earnest fighter from a great fighter.

He may be pushing 6’7” but he fights at times as if he’s the little guy in the ring. It is quite a paradox to watch this Colossus stalk towards an opponent and then see him wave those mighty limbs of his in some unsure, discomfited way until he manages to land a good shot. Then he’ll tear into his foe with those strong, deliberate punches of his – until a counter shot comes his way. At that point his face seems to be gripped in a rictus of fear; eyes widening, mouth agape as he quickly pulls straight back, keeping his arms extended in a clumsy attempt to block punches.

Not at all like a cocksure Muhammad Ali gliding away from danger, or a sneering Larry Holmes doing a paint job with that wicked jab, or a young, snorting Tyson advancing with blood in his eyes and malice in his heart.

No, watching Vitali Klitschko exhibit his ring skills is akin to suffering through Richard Milhous Nixon attempting to do The Twist at a White House soiree. You give the guy credit, but it ain’t real pretty to watch.

And it’s not all Dr. Klitschko’s fault, either, as the current roster of alphabet champs and top-ten remnants aren’t exactly an awe-inspiring bunch. James Toney, Chris Byrd, Hasim Rahman, John Ruiz, Lamon Brewster, Jameel McCline and…Andrew Golota? You’d have to go back to the late 1970s and early ‘80s to find a motlier bunch of pretenders to the throne. Back then at least we had a Larry Holmes ruling the roost. And until his marvelous skills started to slowly erode, we did have a fighter who dominated his challengers and who was interesting to watch. Then disinterest and decrepitude started to show on Larry and we were forced to watch as the likes of Renaldo “Mister” Snipes, Tex Cobb, Lucien Rodriguez and Bonecrusher Smith either gave Larry fits or force him to go the distance in unnecessarily grueling fights.

As for the IBF’s entry in the heavyweight derby, Chris Byrd is still the best and purest boxer in the division. Unfortunately, watching him work is only slightly less entertaining than clipping one’s toenails. The only element of suspense to his fights is his sudden susceptibility to the big punch. His frighteningly close shave at the hands of limited Jameel McCline recently is a not-so-subtle reminder that this beefed-up middleweight is now 34 years of age and starting to pick up speed as he descends that slippery slope of decline.

WBA titleholder John Ruiz is still the best example of what limited skill, combined with a stubborn determination to survive, can accomplish. This guy has elevated “The Clutch” to an art form. His fighting style is uglier than a chicken with lips, but it works for him, much to the detriment of the sport.

So, come on Santa, bring me a big, bouncing heavyweight who chews glass and craps thunderbolts; someone who will strike fear into the rest of the division and will do 1 to 2 million PPV buys every time he has a big fight; a heavyweight champ who will force some of the existing crop of big guys to enter a well-deserved and long overdue retirement, and make some of the younger ones reconsider their current line of employment.

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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