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Articles of 2004

Is Tarver Still Better Than Spinks

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This past May 15th, former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver knocked out undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones in the second round of their rematch. Before fighting the rematch with Jones, Tarver was best known for splitting two fights with Eric Harding, winning a solid decision over Montell Griffin, and losing a close majority decision to Jones in their first fight.

On the night of the Jones-Tarver rematch, I wonder if I had stood at the entrance of the fight venue taking a poll of those attending the fight, asking them who would've won had the Antonio Tarver who is fighting Jones tonight fought the Michael Spinks who won the WBA light heavyweight title from champ Eddie Mustafa Muhammad?  I think that's a fair question. Tarver had just given Jones the toughest fight of his career. And some fight observers, although they're wrong, thought Tarver deserved the decision that night. Tarver’s stock clearly had never been higher than it was the night of the Jones rematch.

That being said, I would be more than willing to bet an overwhelming majority of those I surveyed would say that Michael Spinks would've soundly defeated the Antonio Tarver who was only hours from fighting Jones for the second time. In the most anticipated light heavyweight title fight of Roy Jones’ tenure as light heavyweight champion, Tarver knocked him out with one big hybrid left hand in the second round to win back the title.

The fight started with Jones coming out more aggressive than he usually does in the first round, and he clearly won the round. In fact, Tarver didn't land a single meaningful punch in the first round. Jones came out in the second round picking up where he left off in the first. A little past the midway point of the round, Tarver beat Jones to the punch with a massive left, knocking him out.  Before connecting with his lottery punch on Jones, Tarver had been credited with landing just six punches by Compubox punch statisticians.

Within weeks after scoring the biggest victory of his career, Tarver was the talk of the boxing world and was often mentioned as a future opponent for fighters such as Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Vasilliy Jirov, and Mike Tyson. Tarver was also starting to be talked about as a great fighter. It was only a short time after stopping Jones that Tarver was being compared favorably to Michael Spinks.

Michael Spinks happens to be the most accomplished light heavyweight champion in the 101 year history of the division. He went undefeated while fighting at light heavyweight, going 11-0 in title fights as the division's ruler. Not to mention he was the first reigning light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title by defeating the reigning heavyweight champion, who just so happened to be 48-0 Larry Holmes.

As unbelievable as it may seem, there were actually boxing fans suggesting that Tarver – based on his knockout of Roy Jones – may have been as good as Spinks. When I heard that I didn't even get the slightest bit mad or upset. It just confirmed for me that many fans and writers crave to see greatness so badly that they base far too much on one fight.

Less than a month after beating Jones in their rematch, Antonio Tarver was being compared favorably with one of history’s greatest light heavyweight champions and fighters, and this was based solely on one punch. Prior to beating Jones, Tarver was viewed as one of the upper-tier light heavyweight contenders in a sub-par era. But he was never mentioned as a possible all-time great. And the thought of comparing him favorably as a fighter with Michael Spinks was beyond comprehension. Again, based on nothing more than what has to be considered a lottery punch landed on Roy Jones, Tarver went from top contender to all-time great?

Someday those who base everything on one great/outstanding fight will learn not to rush to judgment so foolishly.

This past weekend Antonio Tarver fought for the first time since knocking out Roy Jones seven months ago. His opponent was a fighter named Glencoffee Johnson who also knocked out Roy Jones in his last fight. Heading into his fight with Tarver, Johnson was 9-9-2 in his last 20 fights and 3-2-2 in his last seven. During the week of the Tarver-Johnson bout, many prediction polls were taken among boxing’s finest and most astute observers and followers. In every poll taken, Tarver was picked to beat Johnson by at least 80% of those polled.

In what has to be the best year of Johnson's professional boxing career, he closed it out by winning a 12 round split decision over Tarver. With upset wins in his last two fights over the two best fighters in the division, Johnson is now viewed as the top light heavyweight fighter in boxing.

Guess what I heard today?

In what is becoming more and more routine in sports, boxing certainly being no exception. I heard and read some writers and fans questioning how Johnson matched up with former beast and WBC light heavyweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi, the former Dwight Braxton.  However, don't worry about me losing it, because I view it as progress and a sign of hope. At least they waited for Johnson to win two big fights before making ridiculous statements and comparisons.

Forget about Qawi vs. Johnson, I just want to know if Antonio Tarver is still better than Michael Spinks.

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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