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Articles of 2004

February Funk

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This Saturday night at the MGM Grand we have a pretty good doubleheader on HBO featuring Jesus Chavez defending his WBC jr. lightweight title against Erik Morales and bright, young Puerto Rican prospect Miguel Cotto taking on his toughest test to date against Victoriano Sosa.

It's a great way to end the month of February for two reasons: First, it's an attractive card. And more importantly, it means were almost out of this wretched month. The bottom line is that February is a virtual 'black hole' for sports fans.

Think about it, after the Super Bowl wraps up, sports fans are in an abyss of meaningless basketball games and uninteresting hockey games( some will argue that that's a repetitive phrase, after all, it's hockey) but what compounds this is that boxing for some reason never capitalizes on this dead month. Yes, I realize that we had a card on Showtime that featured James Toney against Jameel McCline and Kostya Tszyu going up against Sharmba Mitchell once again, before injuries decimated that card.

Seriously, why in a month where the biggest event is the Daytona 500, doesn't boxing take advantage of this vacuum by putting on some bigger events?

( And that's another question I have about Nascar, why is their Super Bowl their first event of the year? I mean, it's like having the World Series in April or the Stanley Cup in October. But I digress.)

The powers that be in boxing are loathe to put on big fights up against other big sporting events because boxing has enough problems getting coverage from the major media outlets when it doesn't have to compete with the likes of the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and NBA Finals. I can see not wanting to put on big events in January against the NFL Playoffs or in March against 'March Madness' which has turned into one of the most anticipated sporting events every year.

But why not February? In many ways it's the perfect month. With the weather being so cold in many area's, the levels of television viewing are usually very high-at least much higher than they are in the summer months- which makes it conducive to higher pay-per-view numbers. Seriously, I know boxing is not held in the same regard it was back in the day, but I'd still like to think that a truly big fight could more than hold it's own to the phrase, 'pitchers and catchers report'. I mean, c'mon it's baseball, something that goes into November now.

I have one theory as to why big fights don't happen in this dreadful month- it's too close to the holiday season, which means that if a fighter, let's say like Oscar De La Hoya or a Shane Mosley, who have already made millions of dollars, they along with many other fighters simply don't want to train during the holiday season. Yeah, fighters are amongst the most disciplined athletes in the world- when they're in training. When they're not, they can be among the worlds biggest gluttons.

Fighters love to fight right before Thanksgiving and then after February. Why? It's simple. They can enjoy turkey and all the stuffing they want without having to worry about their weight and then go onto to enjoy Christmas. You'd be surprised how many times I've been told by managers and fighters themselves that they don't want to fight in January and February because it would cut down on their holiday, uhh, spirit, if you know what I mean.

But you know what? Fighters have bills to pay and it's not exactly the most fertile marketplace out there for fighters, schedule a big payday in February and they will come. The bottom line is that most fighters today are simply not in a position to turn down HBO or Showtime fights because there's no telling when they will ever get that opportunity again.

How bad has this month been? Well, the two biggest things concerning this sport have centered on Lennox Lewis' retirement and Oscar De La Hoya possibly facing Bernard Hopkins in September. Now, those are admittedly big stories in any month, but nothing helps the business of boxing than big fights that happen currently. Instead of talking about fights that are happening now, we're more focused on a heavyweight that we'll most likely never see again and a fight that might happen in about seven months. Even George Foreman's publicity stunt to help his new clothing line, where he talked of coming back at age 55 was big news this month. Why? Because nothing else was going on.

Fights, make fights, which make other fights. That's how the business works and thrives. And starting on March 6th, when Joel Casamayor and Diego Corrales go at it again, we go on a great run of attractive match-ups. The next week we have Shane Mosley facing Winky Wright, two weeks later Jermain Taylor and Dominick Guinn continue their rise up the rankings in an Arkansas homecoming, then April 10th, we have Cory Spinks boxing Zab Judah and Wladimir Klitshcko taking on Lamon Brewster and then on the 24th we have Wlad's brother Vitaly taking on Corrie Sanders in a family grudge match.

I can't wait for those fights. Because right now I'm bored out of my mind. I can see why bears hibernate during these months.

PROUD AS A PEACOCK

Also starting in April is NBC's return to boxing with Main Events. Last year the two combined to make a relatively successful return to the sport and they're doing it again this year. Yeah, Main Events had to bring in their own sponsors but nothing beats network exposure for their young prospects. Through April 17th till May 15th, NBC will showcase guys like Rocky Juarez, Juan Diaz and Kermit Cintron.

My question is this, will there be another network that will step up to the plate and perhaps use the same business model as NBC and Main Events? Seriously, without giving a license fee, what do they really have to lose?

Another question I have is, with ESPN2 seemingly phasing out boxing, will Fox Sports, with the addition of Max Kellerman, up their commitment to the sport?

Signing Kellerman and not utilizing him on boxing, is like getting Barry Bonds and batting him seventh in your lineup.

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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