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Articles of 2004

Klitschko stops Sanders: but just how good is Dr. Ironfist?

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Vitali Klitschko stopped Corrie Sanders tonight by way of an 8th round TKO at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It means Vitali Klitschko is now the WBC heavyweight champion.

From what I can gather, it also makes Klitschko the linear heavyweight champion. And if you believe in the statistical integrity of HBO's real-time online polls, he's now the people's champion. So, he's pretty much everybody's champion, that much seems clear. But really just how good is Vitali Klitschko?

In some ways, tonight's WBC heavyweight title fight was a strange bout. It ebbed and flowed. In fact, at times it seemed to mostly ebb. But when it flowed it set the pulse racing, particularly in the 3rd and 6th rounds. In the 3rd and 6th, the Ukrainian – Klitschko — and the South African — Sanders threw, and landed, bombs with malicious intent.

When the action heated up, the fight became a slugfest. Round 6 was beauty, and round 3 was a Pier Sixer, which, by deduction, means it too was a beauty. During the rest of the action, however, Sanders was largely inactive, and Klitschko, for all his dominance in the punch stats, seemed unable to emphatically seize the initiative. It was only when Sanders was tiring badly and clearly there for the taking that Klitschko incontrovertibly took control.It was Sanders' lack of conditioning on the night that forced the South African to adopt a strategy which saw him sitting back and hoping to stay in the fight long enough to replenish his reserves so he could periodically adopt an offensive posture, if only briefly.

In the end, rounds 1 and 5 told the tale of the fight. In round 1 Sanders, still fresh, was looking to counter punch aggressively and he wobbled Klitschko badly late in the round. Early in round 2, Sanders appeared to shake Klitschko again, but by then Sanders was visibly tiring and already starting to gasp for air. As Sanders began to tire, the fight took on an air of inevitability, despite the mythical “puncher's chance.”

By round 5, Sanders' tank was clearly close to empty and he landed only 1 punch in the round, compared to 38 for Klitschko. Given that Sanders will never be mistaken for Willie Pep, it goes without saying that Sanders lost that round and had the look of a fighter who didn't have a lot left to offer.Sanders made one last stand in the 6th, when, with the South African now walking straight in, the two men exchanged bombs, though Sanders was now clearly getting the worst of the exchanges. The action lulled during the 7th and the inevitable arrived in the 8th.

Klitschko finally pinned the brave Sanders on the ropes late in round 8, and with Sanders now soaking up some torrid punishment, referee John Schorle brought a merciful end to proceedings.

So, now Vitali Klitschko is no longer the heir apparent, but the man himself. HBO were clearly anxious to anoint him champion tonight, and the majority of the boxing media will surely not be far behind.

Indeed, Vitali Klitschko demonstrated tonight that he is the man to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division at this moment. For who else is there in the heavyweight division at this time who is likely to beat Vitali Klitschko? There is no obvious answer to that question.

But in truth, despite the impressive ending to tonight's bout for Klitschko, surely some doubts must remain. As he did against Lewis — despite the intervening historical revisionism — Klitschko looked very ordinary when Sanders went on the attack and forced Klitschko onto the back foot. In the 1st round Sanders looked like he might have had the measure of the older brother too, but the South African then proceeded to immediately fall prey to his own lack of conditioning, paving the way for Klitschko to take a stranglehold on the fight and eventually close the show in the 8th.

It may very well be that Klitschko would have beat even the most finely-tuned Corrie Sanders tonight, but it would have nice to know that with certainty. It's hard to shake the notion that if Sanders had shown up in the kind of shape he was in when he stunned Wladimir Klitschko, maybe, just maybe, he could have had himself a double tonight in Los Angeles.

And what should we make of Sanders? For a questionably conditioned, part time, white, 38 year old heavyweight, he creates a lot of dramatic tension in fights he's supposed to lose. It kind of makes one wonder what might have been had Sanders been a full time boxer earlier in his career who was motivated to really be a fighter, and one who was backed by some promotional muscle.

Instead, the real Corrie Sanders will probably return to the sport he seems to truly love, the one where you get to tee off without worrying about other guys teeing off on you. In the not too distant future he'll probably trade in his hand wraps for a driver. After all, a Big Bertha is a lot easier to deal with than a Dr. Ironfist.

And as for the new heavyweight champion of the world … despite the size, the hype, the power, the PHD and the fact HBO wants it so badly, one can't help feeling that the door is still open, if even only slightly, for a well-schooled heavyweight to walk through against Vitali Klitschko. Despite all that is impressive about Klitschko, he still looks beatable.

Of course, maybe no such heavyweight exists in the game today. At least not one who isn't enjoying his retirement playing chess and eating Rolos.

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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