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Articles of 2004

Lennox Lewis: How High, now How Low?



With the recent passing of Heavyweight King Lennox Lewis from the pugilistic sweet science into the comfy pastimes of tea tippling and chess playing, it is time to reflect on the highs and lows in the career of an under-appreciated Champion.

There were certainly sufficient highs to make a case that Lewis belongs as one of the greats, certainly the best of his time, and a few lows that put a damper on what could have been an unblemished record.

High: Lewis became a recognized World Heavyweight Champion for the first time after defeating Razor Ruddock in London in 1992. Disposing of Ruddock inside of two rounds itself wasn't what earned him the WBC belt, the way he did it is what earned him the trinket. At the time Riddick Bowe held the WBC honor, but the way Lewis had been snot-rocking his opponents dampened Bowe's desire to fight Lennox Lewis. Bowe gave up the belt rather than face Lewis again, having previously been stopped by Lewis (fighting under the Canadian flag at the time) in the Seoul Olympics gold medal bout in 1988. If Bowe was stopped by Lewis while wearing head-gear, he certainly must have been tinkling in his trousers at the prospect of fighting Lennox unprotected.

Low: The Atomic Bull goes boom! Oliver McCall rocked the heavyweight world and gave hope to every heavy-handed heavyweight boxer by knocking out Lewis – “technically” at least – in two rounds in 1994. Lewis got caught, no doubt about it, but was perhaps victim of a short count. Still, from that day onward each time the Brit (?) entered the ring the prospect of him being knocked out was in the back of everyone's mind.

High: In the rematch with McCall, Lewis was able to regain his WBC title, although somewhat by default. While two boxers were in the ring, it was Lewis who came to fight while McCall chose not to. Despite the best efforts of Lennox Lewis, McCall had no interest in fighting that night and was literally brought to tears in the ring. Personal demons ruined the rematch as The Atomic Bull was nowhere to be found and by the fifth round the atomic disappointment was called to a halt. Lewis was crowned King once more, while McCall was taken for some well needed 'rest'.

Low: Perhaps it is the concussive power that Lennox carries in each hand which causes opponents to lose their mojo once face-to-face with the gentle giant. Whatever the reason, in Lewis' next fight the same thing happened. While Henry Akinwande didn't exactly break down in tears, he did embarrass himself by hugging Lewis at every opportunity possible. Finally someone had figured out a way to avoid the big bombs of the Briton. Unfortunately for Akinwande, it wasn't a 'bear hug' contest and after 5 rounds of getting close and personal with Lewis the fight was put to bed with Akinwande disqualified.

High: In one of the most anticipated fights of his career, Lewis took on fan favorite and true warrior Evander Holyfield. The bout was to unify the WBC belt held by Lewis with Holyfield's WBA and IBF belts, despite failing to do that. Clearly Lewis won the fight, and as such it falls under one of his highlights based on the magnitude of the bout.

Low: In the aforementioned bout Lewis was not crowned the unified champion as the judges ruined what should have been a great night for the sport. Lewis' elation from winning the fight turned to disbelief as the decision was read.

High: The manner in which Lewis truly destroyed Michael Grant in April of 2000 was another sweet victory for Lewis. While the press had been begging for someone to take the crown from Lewis, their savior appeared in the form of a muscular, ripped, bible-thumping super-athlete carrying the name of Grant. While we can't attest to how the God-fearing Grant had sinned in his past, he must have been a bad, bad boy. Lewis punished Grant from the opening bell as fans saw the aggressive Lewis they had been clamoring for.

Low: The carnival in Carnival City, South Africa. One shot wonder Hasim “The Rock” Rahman caught an under-prepared Lewis – actually “unprepared” would be better as “under-prepared” suggests that Lewis was at least partially prepped for his fight – right on the button and won the heavyweight prize. Lewis had been in Las Vegas filming a scene for the movie 'Ocean's Eleven' and arrived in South Africa underestimating the altitude and his opponent. Big blemish on the resume.

High: Possibly the most anticipated bout of Lewis' career came in Memphis, Tennessee, which was one of the few places where a rusted “Iron” Mike Tyson was allowed to fight. The refined Heavyweight King facing an all-time ring bad-ass made for great prefight drama. The power that Tyson carried in his fists mixed with the chin that had already failed Lewis on two occasions had people convincing themselves that Tyson would rein again. Instead they saw a near perfect performance by Lewis who picked Iron Mike apart round-by-round. The beating ended in the eighth as Tyson lay down, a bloodied and battered man. Finally, the name 'Mike Tyson' was added to the list of victims on Lewis' hit list.

High-Low: Lennox Lewis retires. From his perspective you have to consider his recent retirement announcement as a high. Lewis defeated the mighty Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Vitali Klitschko and avenged his two losses in convincing fashion. For boxing fans the announcement comes as a low point. The heavyweight division is rather bare right now, and Lennox was one of the few big attractions in the most popular weight class in the game. Boxing can always use the positive impression he had on the sport.

Both in and out of the ring Lennox Lewis was a class act and, in this era, in a class of his own.

Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List



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




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




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 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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