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Articles of 2004

Antonio Tarver the Picasso of the Fight Game

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Ever heard Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver speak?

He uses commas and periods to connect words with the kind of fluency Picasso used lines to join geometric shapes. The overall effect is often baffling. And search me as to what it really means most of the time. But darn it if his verbal assault on the facts doesn't often seem to resonate with brilliance.

Let's face it. When some fighters speak, the words coexist like inmates doing a ten stretch in a federal penitentiary — uneasily. When Tarver is in the mood to give you his thoughts, which is pretty much always, his sentences are like a commune during the Summer of Love. Every syllable full of love for the next and no end in sight.

And it's a good thing the Magic Man wasn't hanging with E.F. Hutton back in the day. A whole generation's retirement plans may have been turned upside down. Back then, when E.F. Hutton spoke, apparently everybody listened. Had the Magic Man been in the room at the time, E.F. wouldn't have been able to get a word in edge wise.

Currently, most of Tarver's verbal bombast has been aimed at Roy Jones Jr. and, to a lesser extent, Bernard Hopkins. That is, when he is not roasting HBO and the role it plays in, as Tarver suggests, promoting fights and protecting its house fighters.

Recently, Tarver has applied his own labels to Jones and Hopkins, a pair of future Hall of Famers. Jones is, amongst other things, a punk-pint sized donkey-bipedal female canine. I've paraphrased here, and I'll leave it to you to fill in the blanks. In reference to Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, Tarver's rhetoric has taken on a slightly more creative flourish. Hopkins is “The Extortionist,” an allusion to Hopkins' unbending-or self-defeating, depending on how you look at it, negotiating style, a negotiating style which has resulted in Bernard negotiating himself out of some lucrative paydays.

In the never ending game of boxing he- said-she-said, apparently Hopkins made disparaging remarks about Tarver, and Tarver responded by inviting Hopkins up to 175 to settle their differences. The invitation, needless to say, was not so much an invitation as the kind of tirade that had the Magic Man's mother reaching for a bar of soap for deposit between Tarver's high beam, pearly whites. As for the Executioner, he now has a more profitable score to settle with the Oscar De La Hoya at whatever weight the Golden Boy decides is the middleweight limit.

The thing about Hopkins, though, is that he talks, and then he talks, and, much like the Magic Man, sometimes he talks some more. But Hopkins backs it up. The Executioner threatens to give opponents professional beatings, then he goes out and does it. Tarver could learn something from Hopkins.

Tarver has been telling everyone for months now that he whipped Jones' ass (pint sized donkey) when they met late last year. The fact is that Tarver fought a very good fight, exceeding the expectations of pretty much everybody, but when it mattered most–in the championship rounds –the Magic Man could not perform the sleight of hand required to put any significant leather on Jones. Tarver chose to play it safe when greatness mandated a rabbit be pulled out of the hat.

Though it should be said that the judges' scorecards had Tarver losing by a ludicrously large margin, it was still Jones who in the closing rounds fought with the urgency necessary to pull the fight out of the fire. It was a close fight, which in moments of humility Tarver has conceded, but it was still Jones who deserved the decision for digging down deep in the 11th and 12th rounds.

A rematch is a tantalizing possibility for fight fans and looks like it may be in the offing. Recent reports suggest Tarver has signed for a rematch which could take place in May. The contract, though, still awaits Jones signature.

It's one contract Jones needs to sign. The overall effect of Tarver's ongoing campaign to call Jones out has had all the subtlety of a Golota low blow, but darn it once again if that Tarver doesn't talk a good game. If Jones walks away from a rematch now his reputation will be irreparably damaged.

As for Tarver, if he handles Jones this time around with half the skill, daring and dexterity he displays whenever a microphone meets his acquaintance, Roy could be in trouble. Big trouble.

Don't believe me? Just ask the Magic Man.

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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