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Articles of 2004

Naming Names in Boxing

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Prizefighters, no matter their religion, change their Christian names, the names they had at birth, into something suited to a hands-on profession. Nicknames, sobriquets, ring monikers, are as commonplace, as everyday, as integral to the game as the uppercut and hook off the jab.

Sometimes changing a name seems the most natural thing on earth. Consider, for example, that champion of champions, Cassius Clay, first known as the Louisville Lip, who changed his name to Cassius X, then to Muhammad Ali, before finally settling on The Greatest.

A prefix to a real name sometimes says it all. Savor this quintet of sweetheart pugilists: Sugar Ray (Robinson), Sugar Ray (Leonard), Sugar Shane (Mosley), Sugar Ramos and Sucra Ray (Olivera). My mouth waters at the thought of all that talent.

The epithets used by boxers in Regency and Victorian England set a high historical tone for nicknames with punch. A Young Ruffian fought. So did an Old Ruffian. For fans that hungered for action, Beef a la Mode was a contender, as were Cabbage, Giblet Pie, Young Rump Steak and Catsmeat. Alongside these gents scuffled such well-named notables as No Neck (Duggan), Gallows Dick, Yokel Brute, The Chelsea Snob, Holy Land Pink, Cripplegate and Death.

And let’s not forget the anomalous Fighting Quaker.

Some of the animals who fought in the ring and whose bite was worse than their bark were the Pit Bull, El Terrier, Mad Dog, The Animal, The Cobra, The Old Mongoose (Archie Moore), Bobcat (Bob Foster) and Big Cat (Cleveland Williams). The Wild Bull of the Pampas (Luis Angel Firpo) gave Jack Dempsey all he could handle in 1923. There were those highflying champs The Hawk (Aaron Pryor) and Game Chicken (Hen Pearce). There was Tiger Flowers.

Now and again noms-de-guerre were an astute summing up of a fighter’s essence. Consider the Napoleon of the Ring (Jem Belcher), Old Master (Joe Gans), Toy Bulldog (Mickey Walker), Mighty Atom (Jimmy Wilde), Homicide Hank (Henry Armstrong) and Human Windmill (Harry Greb). There are Gentleman Jim (Corbett), Gorgeous George (Carpentier), Terrible Terry (McGovern) and Two Ton Tony (Galento). There’s the rags-to-riches Cinderella Man (James Braddock). There’s the Clown Prince of Boxing (Max Baer). There’s the canvas-loving Fainting Phil (Scott).

Our black brothers, especially in the past, were assigned politically incorrect honorifics. There’s no forgetting the phenomenal Brown Bomber (Joe Louis). One of Joe’s contemporaries was Gorilla Jones. The Black Terror (Bill Richmond) fought in Merry Old England. The Black Panther (Harry Wills) fought in the U.S. and Panama. There was a Young Massa. There was a Kid Chocolate, Little Chocolate, Old Chocolate and Chocolito. The Boston Tar Baby (Sam Langford) was an all-time great, as was The Moor (boxing pioneer Tom Molyneaux), also known as Snowball.

Boxing wouldn’t be boxing without the surname Kid. In addition to the aforementioned Kid Chocolate, aka the Cuban Bonbon, there is Kid Gavilan, Kid Broad, Kid Dixie, Kid Francis, Kid Graves, Kid Goodman, Kid Herman, Kid Kaplan, Kid McCoy, Kid McPartland, Kid Murphy and Kid Williams. There’s also George Kid Lavigne, “Billy the Kid” O’Shea, Hogan Kid Bassey, Jack Kid Berg, Ted Kid Lewis, Benny Kid Paret, The Stringbean Kid and Young Zulu Kid.

Where the fighter was born and raised looms large in the history of the fight game. Some hall of fame fighters who put boxing on the map were the Manassa Mauler (Jack Dempsey), Brockton Blockbuster (Rocky Marciano), Bronx Bull (Jake LaMotta), Boston Strong Boy (John L. Sullivan), Galveston Giant (Jack Johnson) and Michigan Assassin (Stanley Ketchel).

As we bob and weave our way across America we come across a Nebraska Wildcat, St. Paul Phantom, Livermore Larruper, Herkeimer Hurricane, Milwaukee Marvel, Kentucky Rosebud, Kansas Rube and Pottawatomie Giant. There was a Brooklyn Bomber and Brooklyn Billygoat, Harlem Spider and Harlem Harlequin, Astoria Assassin, Bronx Beauty and Brownsville Bum. Jersey Joe (Walcott) and Philadelphia Jack (O’Brien) were terrific champs, as were the Pittsburgh Kid (Billy Conn) and Boston Gob (Jack Sharkey).

Fighters representing foreign lands fought here and overseas. There’s the Light of Israel (English champion Daniel Mendoza) and Croat Comet (low blow artist Fritzie Zivic), as well as the Tipton Slasher, Bristol Unknown, Belfast Spider, Durable Dane, Barbados Demon, Singular Senegalese, Basque Woodchopper, Scotch Wop, Australian Hard Rock and Elongated Panamanian.

Taking a swing at the former jobs of professional pugilists in Regency England, there were pugs who once were The Gasman, The Coachman, The Bargeman, The Waterman, The Collier, The Nailer and The Tinman. There was also a Master of Rolls and Sailor Boy, a Knight of the Cleaver and Bath Butcher.

Closer to home we had ragamuffins on street corners hawking the daily news: Newsboy Brown, The Fighting Newsboy (Mushy Callahan) and Abe the Newsboy (Hollandersky). There was a Georgia Shoeshine Boy (Beau Jack), Boilermaker and Fighting Marine (heavyweight champs Jim Jeffries and Gene Tunney). Men with nerves of steel were the Man of Steel (Tony Zale from Gary, Indiana), the macho Upstate Onion Farmer (Carmen Basilio from Canastota) and The Fighting Dentist (Leech Cross from the Lower East Side), who knocked out teeth at night and replaced them the next day.

When people say “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me,” they could not be more wrong.

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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