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Articles of 2004

Max Will Be Missed

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It just isn't the same, is it? Whether you loved him or hated him- or felt somewhere in between- Max Kellerman got your attention. But now that he's gone from his studio position in Bristol, Connecticut as the studio analyst for ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, he'll be missed. Whether you admit it or not.

The team of Max, Brian Kenny, Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore( and before him, Bob Papa) were the Tinkers-to-Evans-to-Chance of boxing. They had a certain chemistry that made their two-and-a-half hour weekly broadcast 'must-see TV' for boxing fans.

No, they didn't have the sports biggest events, that distinction belongs to HBO and their multi-million dollar budget. But what Friday Night Fights provided boxing fans was a broad look at what was going on in the game of boxing. And don't discount that for one minute.

While other sports like baseball, football and basketball all get daily coverage from all the various media outlets, from newspapers, to the internet, television and radio, boxing, for the past two decades boxing has been relegated to a few footnotes here and there on the newswire or a short note in small type on the 'Transactions' page of the newspaper. Outside the internet, boxing is treated on the same level as womens gymnastics and polo. Yes, it's fallen off that much.

But Friday Night Fights, gave the sport it's only real positive spotlight on a major network, on a regular basis. Think about it, when was the last time a fight that didn't involve Mike Tyson, the heavyweight championship of the world or Oscar De La Hoya, make the front page of the sports section? It's been awhile hasn't it? And the fact that Tyson barely fights anymore, Lennox Lewis fought only once or twice a year, as did 'the Golden Boy', that means that 'the sweet science' hasn't been getting a lot of ink lately.

But FNF, week after week, was boxing's version of '60 Minutes', 'This Week in Baseball', 'Inside the NFL', '20/20' and 'SportsCenter' rolled into one. They would provide highlights of recent fights( even ones that took place in Europe), news of the latest developments, commentary of current events, interviews and round table discussion/ arguments about boxing. No, they weren't shills or cheerleaders, they would give their honest critiques and opinions of the things going on within the sport. It wasn't that it was positive coverage of the sport, but more importantly it was balanced, accurate and knowledgeable coverage of it.

It wasn't the fights that kept you coming back week after week, because quite frankly, in recent years their fights have gotten worse and worse. But the studio segments featuring 'To the Max' and the arguments between Max and Teddy, were not only informative but entertaining. It was good TV, and it just happened to be about boxing. The fights, unfortunately, became the thing you had to tolerate before you got to the studio segments.

But now that Max is gone, I'm afraid it'll never be the same. No, that's not a rip at anyone that still remains on that show or a guy like Antonio Tarver, who filled in for Max this past weekend- he did a very credible job- but the energy and enthusiasm he brought to the table each week simply can not be replaced by brining in a slew of big name fighters to pinch him for him.

Say whatever you want about Max, yes, he may have not been able to call a fight correctly to save his life. Hell, he probably tabbed Saddam Hussein over George Bush a few months back. And perhaps he didn't always have the best sources to back up his subject matter or maybe he was more than a tad biased for his boxers out of New York. But he brought a certain passion and enthusiasm for the sport that was undeniable.

Hey, think about it, how many smarmy, smart-alecky, know-nothing, sportscasters have you seen make one ignorant remark about boxing after another. I mean, isn't it refreshing to have a guy that does know something about boxing, respects and admiration for the game like Max, talking about it every single week. He didn't just cover boxing, he also helped promote it.

Say what you want, he was great for the game of boxing. In an era when so many others eschew the sport of boxing, it was refreshing to have a guy that was an advocate of the sport. He loved the game, he defended it, he stuck up for it and he watched it like any other fan. What was so wrong about that?

I'll say this about Max, he had passion and he wasn't afraid to voice a strong opinion. You'd be surprised just how many folks in that position are afraid to say something that might ruffle a few feathers. He did that every week, which made him a saint to some, a Judas to others. He understood it came with the territory and he did it week after week. No matter how wrong or misguided he may have been at times- and believe me, I've had my disagreements with him- you anxiously awaited what he had to say.

And now that he's gone, Friday Night Fights will never, ever be the same. It's now just another boxing show, with mediocre fights and not a lot of personality. And in this case, it's the sport of boxing that loses.

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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