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Articles of 2004

Vitali Klitschko: Next Big Thing or Mild Upset?

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Are the Klitschkos overrated? Of course they are. When there were people referring to them as possible “saviors of the heavyweight division”, and using terms like “global domination”, even in jest, how could they possibly fulfill everyone's expectations?

Both fighters have quit inexplicably in a fight before; how could one build a lasting legacy when he is pre-disposed to that in the midst of adversity?

While Wladimir isn't Primo Carnera and Vitali isn't Jess Willard, they're not Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano either.

Boxing fans like to get overly excited, especially about big white guys who can punch. But as we're on the prowl for the “next big thing” which hopefully will be the next REAL thing, let's curb the enthusiasm just a little.

The heavyweight history books generally don't revere people with glass chins. We can say with at least a little confidence that Wladimir isn't the most rugged heavyweight who ever lived. You can have a lot of physical attributes, but if there's one weakness that can be the death knell for a heavyweight, it's a substandard set of whiskers.

So Wlad didn't pass the “legends” test.

How will his brother fare?

Well, here comes Vitali, with the storyline that he is sticking up for the family name. We aren't so quick to call him the guy who can't take a punch. And we must ask that the jury remain in the deliberation room, because he's obviously been on the 'giving” end a lot more than he's been the “recipient”.

Even so, his most impressive performance has come in defeat, as he was cut and stopped by a somewhat out-of-shape and disinterested Lennox Lewis.

If Vitali looks as good as he did in that fight, or as he did against Kirk Johnson subsequent to that, is it going to be enough to topple Corrie Sanders? Or will the southpaw South African singlehandedly turn back the “global invasion”?

Let's look at it from the betting angle. At least one Las Vegas sportsbook has taken the fight off the board, indicating that someone believes the story that there was something untoward about Wladimir's loss to Lamon Brewster two weeks ago and that it will spill over to this fight. Introduce those people to Mark Lane, if you will (if you don't know who that is, do a Google search).

If we can leave conspiracy theories aside for a moment, let me give you three reasons I might be tempted to bet on Sanders – he's a left-hander, he can whack, especially early, and he's fetching a price that looks pretty attractive at the moment.

At 5Dimes he's bringing +350 (7/2). And Olympic Sports has him at +325.

In other words, he could very well be the guy who supplies the “value” in this proposition.

However, if our objective is picking the winner, and we can be happy with a 25% one-night return on our money (hey, that's better than shylocking), I would lean toward Vitali, who is -400 (lay 4/1) at World Sports Exchange. On an overall basis, he's probably proven to be a better fighter than his brother, though I don't think he has as much natural talent.

You've heard of the “Accidental Tourist”? Well, in a sense, Sanders is the “accidental fighter”. He came in as a substitute against Wladimir last March and knocked him down four times en route to a second-round stoppage.

Girls may just want to have fun, but many guys just want to play golf. Put Sanders into this category.

The fight with Wladimir Klitschko, combined with a two-round KO of Otis Tisdale and a first-round knockout of Michael Sprott, constitute the only five rounds Sanders has fought since June of 2000. That's nearly four years. You obviously don't stay too sharp like that, unless you spend all that free time fine-tuning your short game.

Sanders wants a payday so he can go out with some security and do what he REALLY wants to do, which is play on one of the pro golf tours. This is obviously not a formula for global domination, unless he's on the right side of a four-ball match with his friend Ernie Els.

With his habit of inactivity, Sanders had better get to Vitali very early. I've noticed that only one of his knockout wins has come after the fourth round.

And we must also consider the difference between the perception of what Wladimir Klitschko was before he faced Sanders and the reality of what we now know about him.

Yes, girls just want to have fun. And maybe, just maybe, guys just want to play golf.

As far as I'm concerned, I just want to get paid.

Vitali in six.

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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