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Articles of 2004

Vanda-lism.

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I don't want to say that veteran Sam Garr was robbed on national television this past Friday night on ESPN2, but after local boxer Matt Vanda was awarded a scandalous decision in his home state of Minnesota, I fully expected the 'Bad Boys' theme song from 'Cops' to be played as soon as the decision was rendered.

It was a unanimous opinion that Vanda's split decision over Garr was flat out filthy. Despite controlling the action with his superior boxing skills and experience, Garr, would somehow drop his third straight bout. Van Sweeney would have Garr on top 97-95( still way to close if you ask me) and judges Jack Hayden( 97-93) and Butch Anderson(97-95) would have the local boy winning somehow.

Among those who had the fight a lopsided one for Garr was Teddy Atlas of ESPN2 who called the action from ringside. Atlas had the fight scored 100-92 for Garr.

” I had two even rounds, there was two rounds that were close,” he said.” I couldn't give them to Vanda because I thought in those rounds that Garr landed the cleaner punches even though Vanda had his moments. So I made them even rounds.”

It was a confrontation we had seen many times in this sport: a well-protected local guy, who can sell a few tickets finally taking a step up in class against an experienced, grizzled veteran, thought to be on his way down. And perhaps Garr- who has faced the likes of Ishe Smith, Chris Smith, Gary Jones, James Page and Glen Johnson throughout his career- was on the down slide but he still had more than enough to out-class Vanda.

But we should have seen this coming, not only was Vanda the proverbial 'house' fighter, Minnesota is a state without a state commission.

” Jesse Ventura got rid of it when he was the governor, said that it wasn't important,” said Atlas, of the grappler turned politician. The irony is dripping wouldn't you say? And Atlas was warned by a former fighter of what could- and did- occur.

” Scott LeDoux came up to me before the fight and I can only repeat what he said to me, he said,' Teddy, they have some good officials here in this state, unfortunately none of them are officiating tonight. They weren't invited'” Atlas said of the former heavyweight who is a native of Minnesota.” He pretty much felt that the promoter brought his own officials in. And it was a local promoter, he has a kid that sells a lot of tickets. Obviously he did have a say in who the officials were.

” That was governed by him and it's very difficult to watch a 34 year old guy( Garr), who's lost his last two fights, who's trying to resurrect his career, comes in shape, comes with a good fight plan. From my viewpoint and other peoples too, he wins the fight, dominates the fight, does everything he needs to do in someone else's backyard with a younger kid and he gets treated like that. It's a difficult thing.”

It may not have been the worst decision ever, but to Atlas it rates a mention.

” I don't think it's the most eye-brow raising but it's another one that unfortunately that's listed in the group as one where you just shake your head and you say,' This is why we need a national commission'”

And while this was not a huge event for the sport, it further erodes the publics faith and interest in the game.

” This is why fans run away for the fences because fans come up to me and say,' Y'know, I'm losing patience Teddy with your sport. I watch it and I start thinking I'm watching wrestling because it seems nothing is honest'” states Atlas, who has long called for a national commission.

But if there were to be a national organization that oversaw the sport, implemented uniformity in it's rules and regulations and had the autonomy to make the difficult decisions, just who would run it? The government? Puh-leeeeze, the government can barely run the government. If the sport is to clean up and prevent messes like this one and what going on at Top Rank, real reform and leadership must come from within the sport. Let the politicians do politics, let boxing people run boxing.

Garr, may have 'lost' the fight, but boxing was the real loser on this night. Vanda, an honest fighter, who got a dishonest verdict, did no more to win the fight than the Twins did to defeat the Yankees in the playoffs this past fall. And that wasn't lost to many of the fans in the partisan crowd on Friday night.

” There were plenty of people that came over to ringside to me saying hello and asking me what I thought,” said Atlas, who ripped the decision on the air.” And when I told them, everyone of them- to a man-agreed. They were gentlemen, they seemed to be knowledgeable fans, they obviously came across to me as honest fans. They were there for Vanda no doubt, but when I said what I said, they agreed it.”

It's clear then, that those fans were much more honest and forthright than the judges.

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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