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Articles of 2004

Teaching an Old Dog, Some New Tricks

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I nearly fell off my chair as I was watching Diego Corrales in his rematch with Joel Casamayor this past weekend. Not only was he using his jab, he actually slipped a punch. I was flabbergasted and flummoxed, to say the least.

Now, I was able to compose myself by remembering that even a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in awhile, and that even a broken watch is correct twice a day. But get this, he did it throughout the fight. Yes, this is Diego Corrales I'm talking about.

I'm sure you've heard by now but 'Chico' was able to even the score against the Cuban southpaw by out-boxing- yes, out-boxing- his opponent over 12 tense rounds of boxing to capture the vacant WBO jr. lightweight belt.

Seeing Corrales use his jab effectively, not give up his height, gauge distance properly, show improved defense and exhibit patience was like seeing 50 Cent sing a ballad, Barry Bonds laying down a sacrifice bunt, Rush Limbaugh wear a Donavon McNabb jersey, you might see it, but you still don't believe it.

But that's precisely what occurred with Corrales, who overcame one lapse, when he got sent to the canvas by a sharp Casamayor left hand in round ten. Like the classic first battle between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns in 1981 and interesting role-reversal took place where the boxer, became the puncher and the puncher became the boxer, halfway through the fight.

Which is what happened in the late rounds of this particular fight. Casamayor sensing he was behind started to become much more aggressive in the late rounds. Corrales, stayed within his game plan throughout, never losing his composure. And much of the credit has to go to trainer Joe Goossen, who just happened to train Casamayor for the previous five years, culminating with their first fight in October.

Now, they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Goossen came as close as any trainer will in disproving that theory. It was thought that Goossen was valuable to Corrales because of the insight he would be able to provide his new fighter against his old one. Instead, what really proved invaluable was how over six weeks Goossen was able to not only able to alter the style of Corrales but more importantly, changed the mindset of Corrales, who admittedly loses poise once he gets hit solid and is not afraid to engage in bloody slugfests. It's great for the fans, terrible for the fighter involved.

Goossen turned a free swinger into a guy who was content to draw a few walks and go the other way. No, he wont hit as many home runs as he has in the past, but he will hit for a higher batter average. And he wont get hit nearly as much in the face.

Perhaps now Goossen will get the credit he deserves for being one of the premiere trainers around. I don't know why, but this guy has never gotten the proper amount of credit he deserves. Is it because he didn't fight professionally? Fair enough, but I can name you a multitude of coaches in other sports that couldn't even crack the lineup of their JV teams in high school. And besides, coaching or training is about helping others achieve, not what you may have done in your playing days.

This was the greatest downfall of legends like Ted Williams and Jerry West when they coached.

Is it because he doesn't look like the classic trainer, but instead to some, more like an adult-film actor with his less-than-traditional ring attire? Well, he is from the valley where those films are produced, but last I checked you didn't have to just sport Everlast or Grant gear to be a trainer.

Maybe it's because he isn't from the east coast where a lot of the influential media resides. Hey, as much as I think of Teddy Atlas- and I think very highly of him- is his reputation as big if he lived in Sherman Oaks, California instead of Staten Island, New York? I don't think so.

But look at this guys track record, he took guys from their first fight and developed world champions like Michael Nunn, Rafael Ruelas and Gabe Ruelas. Now, some will argue that anyone could have trained 'Second to' Nunn in his heyday.

Which might be true, but consider this, where did Nunn's career go once he left Goossen? He was never able to fight at the level that was coaxed out of him by Goossen in the late 80's. And as gutty and game as the Ruelas brothers were, were they the greatest natural talents out there? I'd say he was pretty successful with them and Gabe could have had a much better career without the badly fractured arm he suffered against Jeff Chandler early in his career.

Then you have the case of Lance Whitaker and Joel Casamayor. Whitaker was basically a failed power forward that Goossen took over very early in his career and 'Mount' Whitaker at that point was more of an anthill. He simply couldn't fight that much. But over time he was slowly developed and by early 2001, when he had knocked out Oleg Maskaev in two rounds, he was considered one of the top five heavyweights in the world and on the verge of making big money. But Whitaker was then hijacked by Rock Newman, who tabbed Phil Borgia to train him- and he would promptly lose to Jameel McCline and he's never been the same since.

Casamayor, was a guy that was a glorified amateur early in his pro career. While he may have defected from Cuba, he still fought like a Cuban amateur. In other words, he would stink out the joint at the drop of a Cuban cigar. He was so unappealing that he was deemed untouchable by the big promoters.

In 1999, Goossen would take over Casamayor and eventually they would capture a world title and become one of the most respected boxers in the world. He didn't turn him into an Arturo Gatti or Mathew Saad Muhammad, but he did turn him into a professional fighter. There one loss would be a controversial 12-round decision to Acelino Freitas but last year they would rebound with solid wins over Nate Campbell and Corrales.

Then you had this weekend, where Corrales would turn the tables on Casamayor. Do you sense a trend? Perhaps now Goossen will start getting some long overdue credit.

Y'know, this guy might have a future in this game. After all, he was able to teach an old dog, some new tricks.

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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