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Articles of 2004

Chavez Loses WBC Belt, Wins a Purple Heart

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Last week one of my friends who is a managing editor at USA Today, who does freelance work for several boxing publications like 'the Ring' and 'KO', was lamenting the fact that his paper had put out a list of the ten toughest athletes in sports and despite his plea's, none of them were boxers.

Now, I may be biased, but shouldn't all of them be boxers? Yeah, you could throw in guys like Ray Lewis and Steve McNair and you wouldn't hear any complaints from me, those guys in another time and place would be heavyweight contenders and they are as tough as they come in football, which is a brutal sport in it's own right. But my friend went on to say that the list had folks like Annika Sorenstam, a female golfer who made a stab at a mens tourney this past year. Huh?

Then that must make teenager Michelle Wie some sort of iron-woman, then.

I bring this up because this past weekend I was in Las Vegas to watch Jesus Chavez defend his WBC jr. lightweight title against Erik Morales. Chavez, is a good, solid prizefighter from Austin, Texas that was thought to be nothing more than another 'belt-holder', just baby-sitting Jose Sulaiman's green trinket until Morales, a true 'pound-for-pound' performer came along and took the belt as a mere formality, on his way to bigger and more challenging fights.

In the opening stanza, Chavez would shock everyone inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena by rocking Morales with a terrific right hand that had ' El Terrible' wobbling and holding on. It was clear that Chavez was here to be a champion, not cannon fodder. Morales, being the consummate Mexican, tough guy, would fight back on even terms the rest of the round. In round two, he would come back with some blistering heat of his own, sending Chavez to the canvas twice.

The bout was shaping up into 'Fight of the Year' material. Here you had the well known, brand name fighter in Morales getting shook to his toes in the opening frame, coming back in the second round to send Chavez to the floor twice. The 8,000 or so fans lucky enough to be inside the tent for this fight were buzzing. It was one of the those rare moments only 'the sweet science' could provide.

But strangely as the preceding rounds went on, Chavez wasn't nearly as active as he was the opening round. He would stalk Morales, only to run into some hard, accurate right-hand uppercuts and crosses. What had started off as a well-matched slug-fest had quickly turned into a one-sided shellacking. You had the feeling that Chavez would be stopped in the middle to late rounds.

Around the fifth or sixth round I kept wondering to myself,' Funny, this guy hurts Morales in round one with a big right hand and he hasn't thrown one since.' And there was a good reason for that, it turned out that Chavez had badly injured his shoulder in the opening round and may have compounded that ailment in falling to the canvas in the very next round. For the last 11 rounds of this fight, his right hand would be as rare boxing on network television.
In the land of one-arm bandits, Chavez, himself had become one.
As the rounds were put into the bank, a familiar pattern was developing: Morales would land the consistently harder and cleaner shots, while Chavez would keep trying to get on either side of Morales and crank up left hooks- and left hooks only. And at times he would be effective with them, the only problem was that he didn't exactly have the left hook of Joe Frazier, but his son Marvis.

And it became increasingly clear to everyone in attendance- except Morales and his corner, who weren't nearly as perceptive- that Chavez simply couldn't use his right hand. Yet there he was plugging away and it wasn't just about keeping his title or protecting his payday- he could have easily retired early in the fight without much protest- but it was more than that that kept him fighting. He's a true fighter, and that's what they do- they fight till the bitter end.

In this game, you can't go to the bullpen, you can't call a timeout, there's no two-minute warning or halftime. All Chavez could do was keep winging hooks and duck, over and over again. By the late rounds it was clear that Morales would win his third world title, but by this time it was evident that this fight was just as much about Chavez's courage as it was about Morales' lofty achievement.

Morales won the fight, Chavez won our everlasting respect.

The plucky underdog would even have the temerity to win a few rounds down the stretch as Morales would tire from his relentlessness. It was just about a year-and-half-ago that Chavez took some ridicule for having his fight stopped by his then-trainer Ronnie Shields against Floyd Mayweather. You'd have to think he made amends on this night. Without being 'Shield-ed', Chavez erased any doubts that may have lingered about his ticker.

But that really shouldn't surprise any of us, after all, they're fighters, we shouldn't expect anything different from them.

On the same weekend that Chavez fought gallantly against one of the games most lethal boxers, a golfer by the name of Davis Love III, had the temerity to throw out a fan because he was heckling him. Last I checked, nobody hits you while you're putting or driving. And I'm assuming that Love still had use of both his arms and shoulders. After that incident, Love would fall apart like Howard Dean's campaign.

But then, that's the difference between boxers and guys who play golf for a living. It's the fundamental thing that will separate the Jesus Chavez's of the world from the Davis Love's.

So remember the next time some golf analyst talks about what a 'courageous putt' a guy hit, think about this, nobodies trying to clock him while he's doing it.

That's real courage.

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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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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