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Articles of 2004

Lennox's Legacy

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This past Friday afternoon in England one Lennox Claudius Lewis announced his retirement from the ring. While it's bad for the business of boxing, since it prevents a badly needed heavyweight title fight that the general public will be interested it, it's a happy ending for Lewis who walks off into the sunset with his faculties intact and enough money for his grand children's children to live off of.

He calls it a day with a record of 41-2-1 with 32 knockouts. He was a two-time champion that unified the title during his second run as a champ and then retired as the recognized, linear champion. He also won a gold medal to boot in 1988 in Seoul, Korea, stopping Riddick Bowe.

Impressive credentials in any era, but the question persists, where do you rank Lewis? There are two factions with extreme views on this Brit, who is also Jamaican, but represented Canada in the Olympics and had most of his big fights in the United States. One side will say that Lewis was a reluctant soldier with a negative style and a shaky set of whiskers. The other will tell you that he is one of the all-time greats with his wins over the likes of Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, David Tua, Andrew Golota, Ray Mercer and Razor Ruddock.

So which is it? Is he the china-chinned guy in dreadlocks or an all-time great? Well, probably a bit of both, so the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Was his chin shaky? Well, he did get KO'd twice in one-punch fashion by journeymen-level guys in Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman. Now, once is an aberration, twice is a trend. KO losses to those two are telling. Sure other heavyweights have hit the canvas, but the truly elite have gotten up off the canvas. Joe Louis, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano and Joe Frazier have all gotten their ass of the canvas to win fights. When Lewis hit the floor, he was there to stay.

But to his credit Lewis did avenge both of his losses in conclusive fashion to both McCall and Rahman in rematches. Of course the detractors would ask what business he had losing to those guys to begin with. Most of the other great heavyweights either loss to elite fighters in their prime, like Frazier did to Foreman, and then Foreman to Ali, or they lost well past their primes like Louis did to Marciano and Ali did to a Leon Spinks. But during their primes, they weren't losing to guys the caliber of McCall and Rahman, no siree.

And it wasn't like Lewis was fighting in a great era of heavyweights either. But then again, besides the 1970's that featured: Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Jerry Quarry, Ernie Shavers, Jimmy Ellis, Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle and Ken Norton among others, has there really been a truly 'great' era of heavyweight boxing. Usually this division is dominated by one guy at a time.

That was surely the case of Louis, who's competition was so bad that it was called 'the Bum of the Month Club', or Marciano who was criticized for not having beaten any other great heavyweights in their prime, Holmes, was never given enough respect during his prime as he had a tough act to follow in Ali and Mike Tyson dominated an division replete with Don King promoted underachievers.

At least Lewis was in an era that featured the likes of Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson. Lewis basically beat 'the Real Deal' twice, with the first battle being a scandalous decision that ended up in a draw, Bowe would throw his WBC belt into the trash can rather than face Lewis as his mandatory contender in 1992 and Lewis, was originally paid about $4.5 million by the Tyson camp to stay away from their man in 1996 before dominating him in 2002.

In between all this he would beat respected contenders like David Tua, Henry Akinwande, Tommy Morrison, Michael Grant, Frans Botha, Frank Bruno, Tony Tucker and Andrew Golota. In any era, that is not a bad resume. And remember, while he was losing on all three scorecards to Klitschko- and rightfully so- he did cause the nasty gash on his opponent with a punch and had seemed to have taken some control of their fight by the end of the sixth round with a huge uppercut that staggered Klitschko.

But even with all this work under his belt, respect has been hard to come by in America. Why? Is it because he's not American? I mean, if he was, he'd probably would have been on the box of Wheaties years ago. Maybe Americans are so jingoistic that we simply cannot give credit to a heavyweight champion that sounds like Margaret Thatcher. Is it his somewhat awkward and gangly style? Hey, not even his most ardent supporter will call him Willie Pep, but ask yourself this- what other 6'5, 245 pound heavyweight in the history of the game could do what he did on a consistent basis?

Again, I'm not saying he's a young Cassius Clay, but compare him to some of the other behemoths that have graced the canvas from Primo Carnera to Grant, and you'll see the Lewis is light years beyond anybody else with that kind of size. And you know what? It's effective and you can't argue with the results. Hey, I'd be the first to tell you he could bore you like PBS programming, but it's the results that count. Lewis is a classic example of substance over style.

So do I consider Lewis among the all-time elite? No. I simply can't overlook over his two losses to McCall and Rahman, one loss I can't excuse, but the second loss in South Africa to 'the Rock' shows that even in his prime he was more vulnerable in his prime than guys like Ali, Louis, Foreman, Holmes, Frazier, Marciano or even a Sonny Liston.

But I will say this, he makes a very strong argument for being right below that elite tier and based on his performances against his peers, it's clear that he is this past generations best big man.

And that makes him pretty damn good, if not an all-time great.

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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