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Articles of 2004

Smoked Out.

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It's entirely respectable for a fighter to lose a fight while giving his best effort. There's something noble out a boxer who continues to give his best in the face of insurmountable odds.

It's entirely another to give a performance so putrid, that it borders on farcical and defrauding the public.

Derrick 'Smoke' Gainer crossed that line in handing over his WBA featherweight belt to Juan Manuel Marquez this past Saturday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan on HBO. His 'performance' was bad enough, but in abdicating his title, he underscored a deeper problem that has been plaguing boxing for years- but more on that later.

Whatever beating he took from the steady Marquez, it paled in comparison to the shellacking he took from Larry Merchant, the respected boxing analyst for HBO. From the opening bell, Merchant and his colleagues Jim Lampley and former heavyweight champion George Foreman, all shared their disdain for this 'Smoke-out'.

In the opening round both men would go through the predictable 'feeling out' stage but it was Gainer who looked as though he was on the opening stage of the Tour De France, ready to bicycle alongside Lance Armstrong.

With just over a minute to go, Foreman would remark:” Marquez is trying to get into the fight,” as Marquez would make his way forward.

To which Merchant responded,” And Gainer looks like he's trying to stay out of it.”

Boo's could be heard at the end of the first round.

The second round would see the same pattern, except this time Marquez would actually get close enough to hit Gainer with a few shots on the belt-line of his high trunks. After his second complaint to referee Luis Pabon, the boos increased.

” The only thing offensive Gainer has done in this fight is complain about two borderline punches,” said Merchant, obviously annoyed at what he was witnessing.

In between rounds two and three, Gainers trainer Alton Merkerson would tell his fighter,” A lil' too defensive,” which may have been the biggest understatement since 'Gigli' was labeled a box-office bust.

Round three would see more of Gainers non-action, Marquez was trying to make a fight of it, but as they say, it takes two to tango. Something that was noted by Lampley during the round.

” You've heard that old saying about how styles make fights,” said Lampley.” Well, styles can break fights, too. And that's whats happening here.”

” So far, he just auditioning for the Jofre ballet” remarked Merchant. At this point the running commentary was more far entertaining than the actual 'fight' between Marquez and Gainer.

It was during this point in the inaction that I was reminded of the venerable old referee Arthur Mercante, who when he was involved in a bad fight with little going on, would warn both fighters and exhort them both to give the fans a good show.

Or risk disqualification and a revocation of their purses. Mercante on this night, was badly in need to counsel Gainer.

Through three rounds, CompuBox numbers had tabulated five punches landed for Gainer. Which could be a severe miscalculation, nobody could actually account for those five shots- they must have been given him credit. Talk about no-hitters, Nolan Ryan has nothing on this guy.

With about a minute to go in round four, Merchant would state,” This is one of the most disgusting performances I've ever seen by a so-called belt-holder in Derrick Gainer.”

What made this performance even more frustrating to watch is that Gainer is a fighter who constantly whines about being ducked and dodged by the bigger names in boxing. He places himself in the role of a victim despite having piggy backed his way onto many other HBO showcases on the influence of his friend Roy Jones. In the past he had his shots at the big time that were undeserved and now, with everything on the line for his future, he wouldn't even compete.

At the end of the fifth stanza, Merchant would say,” If I were Marco Antonio Barrera watching this I'd be saying,' If 'Smoke' Gainer happens to win this fight, I would never fight him.” A thought that was quickly agreed to by Lampley.

And then the impossible happened- Gainer did even less.

As the bell sounded at the end of round six, a thoroughly disgusted Merchant would declare,” I gave a two point round to Marquez that time because even by his own standards Gainer did nothing that round.”

Honestly, a cadaver may have fought better against the well-schooled Mexican. It had about as much life.

Mercifully, the action would suddenly come to a halt- yes, there must be a God- as Gainer and Marquez would clash heads, causing a cut over the left eye of Gainer, who looked like he wanted out at all costs, despite the fact he had to be knowing he was well behind on all the scorecards. But alas, he finally did something that pleased the audience by basically folding his tent and going home.

” Gainer doesn't really want to go on,” Merchant remarked. And then as he saw the replay of the butt, he would say with glee,” All I can say is, that's one of the best unintentional butts I've ever seen. If it ends this nightmare, this abortion, hallelujah!!!”

” This was dreadful,” said Lampley, relieved that they could go onto the main event featuring Floyd Mayweather.

So you think these guys were harsh? Try watching this fiasco and you'd feel exactly the same way. It was a pathetic performance that brought shame to the event, to the sport of boxing and most of all, to Gainer himself. He deserves every bit of ridicule he receives for this fight.

Yes, boxers should be given the utmost respect for what they do. Boxing is a dangerous sport where you put your life on the line each and every time you step inside the squared circle. But at the same time, when you're on the platform that Gainer was on and earning the paycheck that he was, there is a responsibility that he has to the game to perform with honor and dignity. Gainer did neither.

In wrapping up this fight, Merchant left us with one last thought:” What comes into my mind is here is yet another example of what all these various belts mean. If a fighter like 'Smoke' Gainer can call himself a 'world champion' what has this game come to?”

And he's absolutely correct. A guy like Gainer having a title, devalues the meaning of being a true champion and it forces other more deserving fighters into having to subject themselves to facing guys like him. Marquez, who is truly a gifted prizefighter and worthy of the 'champion' label only fought Gainer because he thought that by unifying their titles( Marquez came into the bout with the IBF belt) he would enhance his reputation, while fortifying his case for a fight with Marco Antonio Barrera, who despite having no belts is considered the 'true' featherweight champion.

It's great that Marquez would take such a risk to build his case for a fight against his countrymen, it's just too bad that he had to do it against an undeserving opponent who was only their because of a fake championship that was held by him.
In other sports like baseball, football and basketball, expansion has diluted those sports. In boxing, it seems as though the proliferation of titles, has done it to boxing.
Fighters make the titles, not the other way around. And in this case, neither Gainer nor the title, is worth much.

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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