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Articles of 2004

For Boxing's Sake – Five Fights That Need to Happen

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There's nothing more compelling in sports in my (admittedly biased) opinion than a big fight with evenly matched, world-class fighters. The anticipation and the drama that builds up to these types of events are unparalleled in sports.

When you look at other sports, their biggest events – such as the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals – seem to be background players to a larger focus outside the realm of the actual event. Think about it, when was the last time the Super Bowl was really just about the championship of the National Football League? The game itself now is just the main centerpiece of a pseudo national holiday where network programmers make a killing on advertising and promote their latest batch of mind-numbing programs. And do I need to remind anyone of the ruckus caused by Janet Jackson this past year?

In boxing, it's all about the fight. When it's all said and done, the game is dependent on the best fights taking place. And no matter what type of pomp and circumstance is put into a promotion, what we want to see is a fight between our finest gladiators. The fight is the thing.

But the best fights aren't always the biggest events. There is a distinct difference. The best fights are for the purists who enjoy the skill and technique of the game. The biggest events are the ones that transcend boxing and have the appeal to the general public. Oftentimes the two clash, because while some fights are great match-ups, they are often poor box-office, which can kill potential match-ups. After all, boxing is a business, first and foremost.

But the two can co-exist and I've come up with five bouts that are not just intriguing match-ups, but make some business sense.

Arturo Gatti vs. Ricky Hatton

The truth is both Gatti and Hatton have been protected a bit throughout their careers because of their marketability. Both are hard-charging Jr. Welterweights who make for good fights, put butts in seats and, oh yeah, are both white.

These guys' styles would mesh perfectly. Hatton is a pressure fighter who likes to dig to the body. Gatti, during his renaissance with Buddy McGirt, is boxing a , bit more from the outside but still likes to mix it up and bang away with his big left hook. It's an interesting mix because you wonder how Gatti would react to Hatton's persistence, and you have questions about Hatton's seasoning. While Gatti has taken on some of the game's big names, Hatton has been sheltered by promoter Frank Warren.

Both Gatti and Hatton are prone to cuts, both are offensive fighters and neither would give an inch easily. Whether you held this fight in Atlantic City, New Jersey or Manchester, England, you could guarantee a crowd of at least 15-20,000.

Antonio Margarito vs. Ricardo Mayorga

Ok, I realize that Margarito is taking on Daniel Santos in September and Mayorga is facing Felix Trinidad the next month, but this is the fiercest slugfest that can be made from 147 to 160 in the game today.

Mayorga is a bombs away slugger. He makes no pretense of having any skill or savvy. He's there to knock your block off, he's not there to feint and jab in the center of the ring. It's all machismo, all the time.

Margarito, in many respects, is like Mayorga. He throws punches in bunches and isn't afraid to exchange. His fights are a battle of attrition, where his opponent's will is tested till the very end. In recent fights, though, Margarito has shown a certain sharpness and technique that had been lacking. He is becoming a more skillful and well-rounded fighter.

Mayorga possesses more one-punch power than Margarito, who holds the edge in stamina and overall fundamentals. Both have sturdy chins and the fight will be a battle till the end. The question is, can Margarito take Mayorga's best shots and if he does, the question then becomes, does Margarito have the staying power to out-last Margarito?

Floyd Mayweather vs. Kostya Tszyu

This would be a great contrast, not only in styles, but even more so in personalities. Mayweather is a petulant and oftentimes moody young man, while Tszyu is an understated sort who lets his fists do the talking. You'd be hard-pressed to find two personalities more dissimilar than these two.

'The Pretty Boy' has skills that are unmatched in the game, but it's been shown at the higher weights – 135 and 140 – that while he is still a deluxe boxer, he does have problems with bigger men. Jose Luis Castillo was able to push him around in their first encounter, for instance. Tszyu, in the past, has been susceptible to being caught and knocked down, but it takes a lot to get him out of there. Mayweather, for all his skills, does not have the power of a Vince Phillips. On the flip side, Mayweather has never faced a puncher who can crack like 'the Thunder from Down Under'

Tszyu can be slow starter, but he is a steady fighter that builds momentum as the fight goes along. In many ways this is like the tortoise against the hare. But remember, so was his fight against Zab Judah.

James Toney vs. Mike Tyson

This would be an interesting match-up just to see what corner trainer Freddie Roach would work that night. Who would have ever thought that back in the early 90's when Toney was winning titles at 160 and 168 pounds that he would be considered a legitimate threat as a heavyweight?

What makes this fight so appealing is that Toney is the type of personality that will not be intimidated by Tyson – who can still scare his opponents before a punch is ever thrown – and he won't just stand up to 'Iron Mike,' he'll instigate his share of rhetoric.

Tyson is not what he once was. In fact, he may even be a far cry from the boxer he was in the mid-90's. But if what they say about punching power being the last thing to leave a fighter is true, Tyson is still dangerous to a degree. And Toney will be there for Tyson to hit all night. Toney is not a stick-and-move type, he's a guy that will sit in the pocket all day and dare you to find openings. Nobody in the game is better at slipping and deflecting punches than Toney.
It would be quite a sight to see a former middleweight stand right with Tyson and invite him to lead with his heavy hands. Would Toney's body and chin hold up to the assault and how would Tyson react to being counter-punched by such a clever fighter? Toney isn't a great puncher – not even in his lighter days – but he's a sharp and accurate one that can break down fighters piece by piece.

Either way, it would be entertaining.

Jermain Taylor vs. Antwun Echols

I admit, this is the least marketable of all the fights I've listed, but it's one that I want to see. Everyone is anointing the young Taylor as the middleweight heir apparent to Bernard Hopkins. While that might be accurate, it's also premature.

Taylor has yet to fight a legitimate middleweight during his professional career. So why not fight a guy that gave Bernard Hopkins one of his sternest tests? Echols is a guy who is wild and unrefined, but he's also fearless and he packs a punch. He's an experienced pro that still has a lot left in his tank, and he would be chomping at the bit to take on a fighter he thinks is still green as grass.

Taylor and his people think they're ready right now for 'the Executioner', so what better way to prove that by taking on perhaps the most dangerous 160-pounder in the world.

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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