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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

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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Articles of 2004

Ali’s Ghost Haunts Foreman and Holmes

Frank Lotierzo

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1949 was an outstanding year, for it produced two heavyweight boxing immortals. George Foreman was born on January 10 and Larry Holmes was born on November 3. Foreman and Holmes are two of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. It's not a reach to say Foreman is the strongest and best two-handed puncher in heavyweight history, and Holmes is the best overall boxer. Their names are forever linked together in the record books.

These two legends both won the World Heavyweight Title in the 1970s. Foreman won it in 1973 when he stopped Joe Frazier in two rounds in Kingston, Jamaica. Holmes, who at one time worked as a sparring partner for Frazier, won it in 1978 with a 15-round split decision over Ken Norton in Las Vegas. Norton was a sparring partner for Smokin’ Joe. Holmes was one of Muhammad Ali's chief sparring partners for his title fight with Foreman in October 1974.

Foreman and Holmes also made successful comebacks in their early forties. Foreman had two shots at the title during his comeback. He lost a decision to undisputed champ Evander Holyfield when he was 42 in April 1991. Three years later at the age 45 he knocked out WBA/IBF champ Michael Moorer, who won the titles from Holyfield, in the 10th round to regain the title a second time.

Holmes also had two shots at the crown in his forties. In June 1992, Holmes, who was also 42, lost a decision to Holyfield in a bid to win the undisputed title. Three years later at age 45 he lost a controversial decision to newly crowned WBC Champ Oliver McCall.

There are some other interesting twists of fate linking Foreman and Holmes, but two words link them more than anything else: Muhammad Ali.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali has been the ghost who has hovered over both of them since they turned pro respectively in 1969 and 1973. Even to this day, all these years later, George and Larry are fighting Ali. It is Ali who, no matter what they do, overshadows them and their accomplishments. And it's not a stretch to say that because of whom Ali is and what he accomplished in boxing, it has influenced both George and Larry to return to the ring in their late thirties and early forties.

As a 15-year-old, George Foreman witnessed the legend of Ali in its infancy, starting with the then Cassius Clay's title winning upset over Sonny Liston. Four years after Ali won the title, Foreman won an Olympic Gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. While Ali was exiled from boxing, Foreman turned pro in 1969. A year later, Ali returned to the ring and overshadowed both heavyweight champion Frazier and the up and coming Foreman.

Twenty-one months after Foreman turned pro, Joe Frazier defeated Ali in one of the biggest fights in history. The thought at the time was that Frazier shattered the Ali legend. With Ali out of the picture, all George had to do was beat Frazier to realize his dream of becoming champion. Twenty-two months after Frazier beat Ali, Foreman challenged Frazier for the undisputed title. In one of the most devastating exhibitions of punching power of all time, Foreman made Frazier an ex-champ in less than two rounds. A year later Foreman destroyed top ranked contender Ken Norton in two rounds.

Foreman was being talked about as the greatest and most powerful heavyweight champion in history. It was widely accepted that nobody would ever beat him. In between Foreman's victories over Frazier and Norton, Ali exacted revenge over the only two fighters who ever defeated him. Interestingly, the two men who defeated Ali – Frazier and Norton – were actually two of Foreman's easiest fights. After Ali defeated his two fiercest rivals in a pair of rematches, he wanted to reclaim the title he was stripped of seven years earlier.

On October 30, 1974, Foreman fought the fighter who loomed larger than life during his career, Muhammad Ali. When Foreman signed to fight Ali, it was thought that he would not only beat him, but end his career – something that sat well with George, who was tired of Ali upstaging him at every turn in public and in the media. In a fight nicknamed “The Rumble in The Jungle”, Ali shocked the boxing world when he knocked out Foreman out in the 8th round in a fight he entered as a 3-1 underdog.

When Ali beat Foreman he did more than just take his title. He shattered his aura of invincibility and spirit. Unlike Mike Tyson thirteen years later, George Foreman really believed he could not be beaten. Foreman was never the same after losing to Ali in Zaire. Two and a half years after Zaire, Foreman was upset by Jimmy Young and retired. Had Foreman stopped Ali instead of himself being stopped, he might have been considered the greatest heavyweight champ ever, instead of being haunted by the ghost of Ali.

Ten years after losing to Young, Foreman came out of retirement and regained the title he lost to Ali twenty years earlier.

Being haunted by phantoms is something Larry Holmes probably knows a thing or two about. When Holmes turned pro in 1973, he was best known for being stopped by Duane Bobick in the finals of the 1972 Olympic Trials, in a fight that was broadcast on ABC's Wide World of Sports with Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell doing the commentary. Larry Holmes was not regarded as a serious heavyweight title contender early in his career. Many boxing observers said his legs were too skinny, he couldn't punch, and that he lacked heart. Many claimed that Holmes was a cheap imitation of Muhammad Ali, a poor man's Ali. Something he would hear throughout his career.

Two years after his pro debut, Holmes was better known for being a sparring partner for Ali and Frazier than for anything he did in the ring. Finally, after laboring on many Ali undercards and fighting in nondescript venues, Holmes got his title shot against WBC champ Ken Norton in June 1978. By 1978 Norton was best known for two things: (1) giving Ali three tough and close fights in 1973 and 1976 and (2) being the only heavyweight champ in history who never won a title fight.

In what was the best heavyweight title fight since “The Thrilla in Manila”, Holmes won a split decision over Norton to capture the WBC title. For the next seven years Larry Holmes ruled the heavyweights, making 20 consecutive title defenses. Only the great Joe Louis made more with 25. The problem Holmes faced was that his biggest wins were over an aging Earnie Shavers and Ken Norton, both of whom Ali had already defeated in title fights a few years earlier. Holmes even fought Ali in 1980 and beat him worse than he had ever been beaten in his career. But the Ali that Holmes beat was a shot fighter who hadn't looked great in five years. Thus Holmes did not get the 800-pound Gorilla – Muhammad Ali – off his back. Holmes even beat the undefeated the Great White Hope of his day, Gerry Cooney, in a huge fight, but still wasn't given the props he sought or deserved.

What hurt Holmes was that he sometimes looked vulnerable against fighters who weren't perceived to be anything special. On top of that, he, unlike Ali, didn't have a Liston, Frazier or Foreman in his era to bring out the best in him. Holmes also lacked charisma, something that would really stand out if you're the champ who succeeds Muhammad Ali.

Throughout his entire title tenure, Holmes was put down because he wasn't Ali. By the time Holmes started to finally get some respect, he was upset by Michael Spinks. As luck would have it, Holmes would be the first heavyweight champion in boxing history to lose his title to the reigning king of the light heavyweights.

And if that wasn't enough, the biggest thing to come along in the heavyweight division since Ali was starting to make his mark. Mike Tyson would be the fighter to sandwich Holmes between himself and Ali. Not to mention that Holmes would attempt an ill-fated comeback against Tyson after being retired for two years. A few years after losing to Tyson, Holmes came out of retirement to try and reclaim the title he owned from 1978-85. Due to the success Holmes realized in his forties, he is now finally starting to get the homage he covets and deserves.

George Foreman and Larry Holmes will never rank above Muhammad Ali in the all-time heavyweight pantheon, but their successful comebacks have moved them slightly closer to Ali, who was shot by the age of 36. At 42 Foreman shook the undisputed champ, Evander Holyfield, pretty good in a title fight, and Holmes came within two or three points of beating Evander. At age 45 Foreman won the title with a one-punch knockout over a then undefeated champ, Michael Moorer, and Holmes lost a razor thin decision to Oliver McCall, the fighter who knocked out Lennox Lewis to win the title in his previous fight.

Because of the Ali mystique, Foreman and Holmes were not content in retirement, which ultimately led them back to the ring for another run at past glory.

By defeating Foreman and regaining the title, Ali solidified his legend at the expense of Big George. During Holmes' title reign, all the things he couldn't do as well as Ali were brought up, which no doubt hurt his perceived status as champion.

Ali won the heavyweight title from Foreman in the ring and never lost the peoples’ title to Holmes outside it.

Today, Foreman and Holmes are respected as all-time greats and are the center of attention wherever they go . . . at least until Ali shows up.

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