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Articles of 2004

Beatings After Dark

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We all love HBO's 'Boxing After Dark' which was created back in the mid-90's as a way of showcasing some of the lesser known fighters at the lower weight classes.

We all remember how they came out the box with a classic battle between Marco Antonio Barrera and Kennedy McKinney in February of 1996 at the Great Western Forum. It was a magnificent fight that captured the essence of the sport and made Barrera, then a relatively unknown Mexican before the fight, into a star. From there the 'Boxing After Dark' franchise came back with other memorable slugfests like Arturo Gatti's come-from-behind and off-the-canvas win over Wilson Rodriguez and Junior Jones resurrecting his career against the storied Orlando Canizales- on the same card.

There was a certain mystique regarding this show. Every time 'Boxing After Dark' was on, you'd get a war. The fighters knew that if they wanted to get to the real lucrative paydays of HBO's 'Championship Boxing' series, they'd have to go through the gauntlet of 'B.A.D.' There would be no soft touches on this series, you either proved you were ready for the big leagues and big money or a 'Not Ready for Prime-time Player'.

And even then, established fighters like Barrera would go through grueling slugfests against the likes of Erik Morales in 2000. There were no slouches 'after dark', no easy mandatories to hide behind or 'house' fights, here. Just real fights.

Well, it looks like things have changed on our favorite series. This past Saturday night, two world class Mexicans, WBO welterweight king Antonio Margarito and IBF bantamweight titlist Rafael Marquez would get soft touches on the latest edition of 'Boxing After Dark'. How soft? Well, neither fight made it out of the first minute of the second round. And trust me, these fights weren't exactly Hagler-Hearns. Margarito and Marquez couldn't have been in softer if they faced Mr. Whipple.( You remember him, right? He was the guy in the Charmin commercials back in the day).

Some in the industry had derisively dubbed this show, 'White Guys Can't Fight'- although Gatti and Micky Ward have disproven that stereotype. What they should have called this show was 'Assault and Battery' because that's exactly what took place in both fights.

First it was 'Sweet' Pete Frissina's turn on the guillotine and although he was game, he was painfully over-matched. He did actually land a few solid punches on Marquez, who in the past has had a soft, vulnerable chin, but as soon as the tall and angular Marquez started to get some extension on his powerful punches, Frissina would hit the deck hard. The end was inevitable and it would come quick as the talented Mexican- who's brother is IBF featherweight champion Juan Manuel- would put away Frissina in the second round.

HBO killed some time by interviewing Marquez and then unveiling a new segment featuring their 'unofficial, official' Harold Lederman in an email Q and A session. But HBO could only stall for so long, eventually, they would have to go to their second execution.

Kyvelos, a Canadian, who was well protected on his way up to a 21-0 record and a number ranking in the WBO would be facing Margarito, who is rapidly becoming one of the best welterweights in the world after some early losses as a teenager in the mid-90's. Now, Margarito is good, but he was made to look like a Mexican Tommy Hearns as he blasted Kyvelos out in two easy rounds. No, knocking out Kyvelos was no 'Herculean' task.

Afterwords as the HBO announcing crew wrapped things up, both Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward would try to put a positive spin on things by stating that they had witnessed two of the world's best fighters ply their trade and build their reputation. Which is partly true, but this is HBO, the subscribers to this network pay for a certain level of prizefight- not these horrible mismatches. There is no doubt that Margarito and Marquez are talented fighters, but fights of that magnitude belong on ESPN2 or Telefutura- not HBO.

Larry Merchant was blunt when he labeled what his network put on the air as 'junk' and stated, correctly, that both Mexicans were capable of fighting anybody, but on this night had fought nobody. It couldn't have been said any better.

'Boxing After Dark' was not a vehicle for mismatches or 'house' fights- the house in this case was Bob Arum, who promotes both Mexicans- but fighters of Margarito's and Marquez's ability to showcase themselves in real tests so that they could eventually move on to bigger and better things. The philosophy that was once the hallmark of 'B.A.D' is being ignored and the product is suffering, and has been for awhile now.

The telecast which started at 9:45 p.m. on both coasts( tape delayed out in the west coast) was over and done with by 10:30. That's a 45 minute telecast, which saw less than four complete rounds of boxing. Take away the interviews and all the other fluff, you could have fit in an episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' or 'Sex in the City' within that time frame.

And you know what? Right now, those shows are about the only things paying for on HBO.

MISLEADING HEADLINE

Imagine how I felt when I saw this headline on Fightnews.com: ” Vanda Held, Not Charged” Well it turns out that Matt Vanda who was held by St. Paul, Minnesota authorities for 48 hours for possession of methamphetamine, hallucinogenic mushrooms and $12,000 in cash, was let go.

Silly me, I thought it was for the robbery that was perpetrated by him and his people against Sam Garr a few weeks back on national tv.

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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