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Articles of 2004

Tapia Gets Up From Another Knockdown

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Some fighters routinely brush off knockdowns and continue fighting. Johnny Tapia routinely cheats death and goes on with his life. You see, Tapia never does anything halfway. It's all or nothing for this guy.

Last weekend was just another chapter in the crazy life of Johnny Tapia, who is appropriately nicknamed 'Mi Vida Loca' ('My Crazy Life'). He was engaged in a standoff with police, with two other men who were wanted on drug charges. Tapia was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. The following morning he suddenly lost consciousness and collapsed in his Las Vegas home. His wife Teresa frantically called 911. Tapia was in intensive care and hooked up to a life support system throughout the weekend. At that point Tapia was hanging onto life by a thread. The man who had been pronounced clinically dead three times prior, seemingly had cheated the grim reaper for the last time.

Well, hold on with the obits. By early this week, not only had Johnny regained consciousness, he was able to walk out of the hospital and yes, there was talk of him resuming his career. The fact he made it out of the weekend in itself, was a huge upset.

” I was there for five hours that first night,” said his trainer Freddie Roach, who's in Las Vegas training Mike Tyson.” And I thought he was dead. I didn't think he was coming back. He was in a complete coma and didn't move a muscle. But in the sixth hour when I was there, I told Teresa to just take a break and get something to eat. He opened his eyes, he had no idea where he was, and he didn't know who I was either. But at least he opened his eyes, I was happy about that. And the following day he asked for a cheeseburger, so I got him a cheeseburger.”

” It seems he doesn't know what happened because he tells me he was in a car accident and I said,' Johnny, there was no car accident' I asked him if he took something and so forth and the doctors haven't got the blood work back in when I was talking to him.”

Tapia has battled substance abuse problems his whole adult life. His career was put on hiatus in the early 90's when he tested positive for cocaine. His addiction is something he fights everyday like any other addict. But the fact that he had drug paraphernalia the night before his sudden collapse is suspicious. It's obvious that drugs need to be eliminated from his life but according to Roach, boxing is badly needed.

” I'm glad he's ok,” says Roach.” And if it's drug related, which I think it is – he needs help. The thing is, if he gets suspended three years – then his careers over. And you know what will happen,” asked Roach rhetorically. He'll kill himself.

Because he still loves boxing and he can still fight a little bit. There's probably a couple of fights out there for him but if he doesn't get help, he's gonna end up dead.”

There has been no word on if drugs were in Tapia's system. But according to Marc Ratner, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, all boxing licenses expired on December 31st and Tapia had not reapplied for a new license. But he notes that if and when he does, he, like any other fighter will be subject to drug tests and perhaps even a mental evaluation.

While Roach may be correct in his theory that boxing is a positive diversion for his fighter, the bottom line is that he is approaching the sunset of a very distinguished career and pretty soon he will be living life without boxing. It's a tough adjustment for any athlete that retires from the glory of their playing fields to a regular private civilian life. For Tapia, you figure it will be that much more difficult.

” The thing is, after Johnny's last fight, it was probably the first fight where he took a lot of shots and maybe took a beating because Barrera was too big for him,” Roach says.” I wouldn't like to see that happen to him again with some of the bigger featherweights. They were talking about him and Hamed fighting and y'know what? I was thinking in my mind that if he fights Hamed, win or lose, maybe he should retire.”

” Because maybe it's just time, but I know as a fighter, no fighter's going to retire until there ready to retire because I did the same thing. Eddie Futch told me to retire, I made the comeback and maybe if I didn't, I wouldn't have the problems I have today,” he says of his battle with Parkinsons syndrome that he controls with medication.” But I'm a grown person and I chose it but Johnny's getting towards the end of his career and he needs boxing to occupy his time and that's when he gets in trouble when he's not boxing. So I'd rather see him in the ring than laid out on a stretcher like he was the other night.”

In theory I agree with Roach, but to me this is like putting a band-aid on a fractured leg. Unless he gets help with his addictions- and even more importantly psychologically- the minute he moves on with the rest of his life- he may not have that much of a life to live.

GRAND REOPENING

It was a successful debut for Oscar De La Hoya's 'Boxeo De Oro' series on HBO Latino at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles this past Thursday night.

Top to bottom, the card put together by Golden Boy Promotions was action packed, highlighted by Oscar Larios' hard-fought ten round decision over Marcos Lincona and Jose Navarro's impressive second round blowout of Carlos Madrigal.

But what was really impressive was that over 4,500 people actually bought tickets to the event. No, it's not a huge number and it does pale in comparison to some of the crowds that used to regularly flock to the Olympic back in it's heydays, but considering that the event was televised (always a killer for the gate), the relatively early start time of 5:30 (and trust me, LA traffic is no treat at that hour off the adjacent freeways) and that the Olympic hadn't had a boxing event in over four years because of diminishing crowds-this night can be considered a huge success.

And I tell you what, there's not a bad seat in the house. And when you get a few fannies in the seats, it does provide quite an atmosphere for the fighters.

It's doubtful that this arena can ever have a regular schedule of boxing again, but if you have a well- promoted event once in a while, it can work.

BARRERA BOUT

If Lennox Lewis bypasses an April date on pay-per-view against Vitaly Klitschko, that pay-per-view slot will be taken by Marco Antonio Barrera.

Now, here's the funny part in all this, it seems Barrera and his people are somewhat reluctant to face another Mexican national. Guys, I hate to break it to you, but in that division, you really don't have that much of a choice. That would be like a heavyweight saying he doesn't want to face an African-American.

Now, names like Kevin Kelley are being mentioned. A Barrera-Kelley fight would be HBO's reply to Showtime's mismatch featuring Acelino Freitas and Gabe Ruelas.

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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