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Articles of 2004

A Black Eye That Can Be Healed.

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Last week the headlines blared,' De La Hoya-Mosley Fixed?' as the feds went into the offices of Top Rank in Las Vegas on Tuesday night and left with computer records, financial documents and fight tapes.

An unnamed member of the FBI had told a reporter from the New York Daily News that they had some evidence that September's rematch between Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya was rigged.

Sorry, but that's just a smokescreen to illicit bigger headlines on this 20-month investigation into the dealings of one of boxing's major promotional outfits. Oh, yes, there are fixed fights involved, but it has nothing to do with that particular fight.

Think about it, a 20-month investigation for a fight that took place about four months ago? It's an even more dubious claim when it was Mosley who won the fight, not Top Rank's fighter, De La Hoya. There was absolutely no upside for Top Rank or for the business of boxing in a Mosley victory. If this fight was rigged( which it wasn't), it sure was a poor job of execution I'd say.

In fact, Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank was so outraged by the outcome of that fight, not only did he promise to leave the sport, he and De La Hoya called for an investigation of the fight. Hey, be careful of what you wish for, I guess.

But the crux of this investigation and this raid really centers on the action of Arums employees and associates. From head matchmaker Bruce Trampler, Sean Gibbons, Cameron Dunkin, Pete Sousens and manager Bob Mittleman, all sorts of malfeasance has been uncovered. From fixed fights, altered medical records, funny bookkeeping, drug trafficking and bribing judges, what comes out of this probe will shock observers.

One of the major subjects of this investigation centers around a fight involving Joey Torres, who after more than two decades in prison for a murder he says he did not commit, made his pro debut under the Top Rank banner on April 27th, 2002, after being paroled.

Torres, was used by Arum's organization to sell tickets to their show which was taking place at the Anaheim Pond. His story of reclamation was something that was pushed hard by the Top Rank public relations staff, who was able to get Torres on various media outlets across the country.

Torres, was slated to fight an Oklahoman by the name of Perry Williams, who not-so-coincidentally, had Sean Gibbons in his corner. The fight itself was a farce. Williams after knocking down Torres in the opening seconds of the bout, would proceed to not throw another meaningful punch the rest of the fight until he flat out laid down in the second round.

Yes, a guy that was there to throw a fight, had nearly scored a knockout. And up to that point, I thought I had seen it all. But the crowd recognized the sham that had taken place and booed lustily. Eventually, Torres would call it a career and work his way into the Top Rank circles.

How you may ask? Well, somehow, while behind bars, Torres had struck up a friendship with professional athletes like Paul Molitor and Eric Davis. Trampler, a known baseball aficionado, was drawn to Torres and the contacts he had. Pretty soon, Torres has brought his cousin 'Big Franky' from New York inside the inner realm of Top Rank. Hearing stuff nobody else heard, knowing about things that nobody else had knowledge off. 

It turns out that they were both working for the feds undercover. And from that time in May of 2002, to now, they had wires, video surveillance and other incriminating evidence against Top Rank. This truly was boxing's version of Donny Brasco.

I've been told that more than 20 indictments will be forthcoming and you know some of these characters involved will be chirping at the first sign of heat. And there are already stories coming out from the likes of Mitchell Rose that he was offered a bribe to take a dive against Butterbean in 1995. For all intents and purposes, it could be the end of Top Rank boxing. Even if this company does survive this storm, what credibility could it possibly have?

And of course, some in the media have trotted out that tired old line of this being another 'black eye' for the sport of boxing.

Perhaps, but it's certainly not the end of it. To the contrary, this could the seminal moment in time when real changes and reform takes place. People in the sport always give lip service about wanting to clean up this business- but the reality is that they don't because that would mean they themselves would have to comply with changes that might not suit them- but now this could be the impetus where the sport takes a real step to right it's wrongs. 

If this game is truly serious about changing it's protocol and it's image, this is the perfect place to start. Arum, despite his own checkered history had time and time again painted himself as the victim to the evil and corrupt Don King. Well, it turns out that his own organization was probably just as corrupt and deceitful as he made King's organization to be.

You could just hear King bellowing,” LIGHTS ARE OUT IN ARUMVILLE!!!” And what will be interesting is how the media- how has largely given Arum a free pass despite his own unsavory past, while persecuting King at any cost- will cover the upcoming events. It simply hasn't been convenient to call out Arum, while focusing largely on King as the symbol for what ills boxing.

But now this is a pivotal time for the game. This is a perfect time and place for true change and for this game to be taken seriously once again by the general populace. If the status quo exists after what has happened and what will soon become public, then maybe, just maybe, the game doesn't deserve to be taken seriously, then.

This could be the end of Top Rank. And a new beginning for boxing.

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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