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Articles of 2004

Is Hopkins Really Older Than De La Hoya ?

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De La Hoya fight has been announced, the conventional wisdom has been that the only shot De La Hoya has is if Father Time catches up with Hopkins. I too have been one who has endorsed that thought. If you look at Hopkins and De La Hoya as fighters, it's hard to find any significant advantage that De La Hoya holds, other than being 8 years younger and maybe having better mobility.

Hopkins is the bigger and stronger fighter with better stamina. Rarely have we seen Hopkins fade down the stretch in any of his fights. Against De La Hoya, Hopkins can probably fight and be successful adopting any style he wants. He can swarm De La Hoya, applying intense pressure, because he has a great chin and is the stronger fighter who also hits harder. If he wants to be the counter-puncher, he can try and lure De La Hoya to come to him, although I believe De La Hoya is too smart to fall into that trap. Lastly, if Bernard wants to, he can probably just go right at Oscar and try to make it a street fight, which would also favor him.

It seems the one thing that those who want to find a reason for De La Hoya to win, hang there hat on the age disparity. Granted, at age 39 Hopkins is vulnerable to becoming an old man before our very eyes on any given night at this stage of his career. However, the one thing I haven't heard anyone mention is, when is the last time Hopkins was in a gruelling fight where he absorbed a lot of punishment?

Looking over his title tenure, there really weren't many fights where he has taken many big punches over the course of a long, tough fight. Even in the one title fight he lost to Roy Jones back in May of 1993, he didn't take any punishment. Jones just out-quicked and out boxed him, but never hurt him or shook him, not once. Even in the fights involving Hopkins where they became borderline wrestling matches, he didn't take any real punishment. When is the last time we saw his face lumped up and swollen? If you look over his career, he really hasn't taken much abuse, especially in recent fights.

Another thing to consider is the fact that Hopkins has been in supreme shape since about 1990. He has never fought outside of the Middleweight division other than in his first few pro bouts, and he doesn't blow up in between fights like James Toney. By always staying in shape his body has never been subjected to starvation diets and dehydration. This takes a toll on a fighter’s body and in that regard Hopkins' physical being has been well preserved.

On top of that, Hopkins had a somewhat late start in Boxing. He also didn't have hundreds of amateur fights before turning professional. If you really think about it, Hopkins' body doesn't have nearly the wear and tear on it you would expect for a fighter who’s made 18 successful title defenses and is 39 years old.

Compare that to De La Hoya, who had numerous amateur fights and started fighting at a very young age. Early in De La Hoya's career, he sucked down in weight just to win titles at 130 and 135. He was clearly taxing his body getting down to those weights while he was still growing and filling out. Up through 140 pounds, De La Hoya really wasn't pushed or hit real hard. It's when he started fighting at 147 and above where we started to see him take punches and get hit more solidly.

At Welterweight he was first tested by Ike Quartey. Quartey may not have had any big time finishing punches, but his jab was very hard. Ike had success landing his power-jab during the fight and he dropped De La Hoya with a good clean left-hook in the 6th round. This was a fight where Oscar was pushed and was hit pretty good. Had it not been for a furious rally in the 12th and final round, De La Hoya would've definitely lost to Quartey.

In his next big fight he was forced to go the limit against Felix Trinidad. De La Hoya didn't absorb much punishment versus Tito. Oscar moved and Boxed just about the whole fight, never letting Tito nail him with anything big. Following the Trinidad fight, De La Hoya fought Shane Mosley. In this fight De La Hoya tried to walk through Mosley imposing his will. Oscar thought because Mosley was moving up from Lightweight that he could go through him. This turned out to be the wrong strategy, as Mosley peppered De La Hoya on the way to winning the decision over 12 rounds.

A year and a half after losing to Mosley at 147, De La Hoya fought Fernando Vargas for the WBA/WBC/IBA Junior Middleweight titles. Although De La Hoya stopped Vargas in the 11th round, the fight wasn't one sided. Vargas had his moments in the fight and shook De La Hoya during a few heated exchanges. This was a fight where De La Hoya had to reach back and suck it up en-route to stopping Vargas. It was certainly no cake-walk for Oscar.

One year after defeating Vargas, De La Hoya defended his titles versus rival Shane Mosley again. The Mosley rematch ended in controversy regarding what fighter deserved the decision. The fact is, regardless of who you thought won, Mosley finished the fight strong and gave Oscar's body a pretty good going over down the stretch. In fact, Mosley beat up and punched De La Hoya around in the 9th round more so than any other fighter has throughout his career. Mosley actually had De La Hoya's eyes rolling in his head in that ninth round. Only Oscar's big heart and will kept him upright. Conversely, Hopkins has never been knocked around the ring by any fighter in his career the way De La Hoya was by Mosley in that 9th round of their second fight.

In his last fight, De La Hoya fought WBO 160 pound Champ Felix Sturm. This fight was supposed to be a virtual walkover for De La Hoya. The reality was that Sturm had a shot-gun, hard left jab that snapped De La Hoya's head back frequently during the fight. This turned out to be another tough fight for De La Hoya where he had to fight hard for 12 rounds. At the end of the fight De La Hoya's face was bruised and swollen. Again the decision was controversial, but De La Hoya looked like the loser.

The conventional wisdom regarding the upcoming Hopkins-De La Hoya fight is that the only real chance De La Hoya has to win the fight is if Father Time catches up with Hopkins. And realistically, that would be the best case to make for De La Hoya. As young and sprite as Hopkins appears, 39 years old is ancient for a fighter, especially one below Heavyweight. There is a real chance that Hopkins can become a shot fighter in front of our eyes during the fight — in an eerie way, almost like Marvin Hagler did in his last fight versus Sugar Ray Leonard. That happens to be the fight that Hopkins-De La Hoya has been often compared to.

The difference is, Hagler fought better fighters than Hopkins during his seven year reign compared to Hopkins nine year reign. Hagler was in tougher and more grueling fights. On top of that, Sugar Ray Leonard fought once in five years heading into the Hagler fight and had not taken any punishment from 1982-87. Other than his first fights with Duran and Hearns, Leonard wasn't really hit hard or forced to absorb much punishment.

Unlike Leonard, De La Hoya has been pushed in his fights and taxed his body more since moving to 147. Against Sturm at 160, De La Hoya looked slow and lethargic at times. He certainly is no big puncher at that weight either. He will have to really push his body again to be in supreme shape at 160.

The birth certificate may point out that De La Hoya is 8 years younger than Hopkins. However, after looking over their careers, it's clear that De La Hoya has been hit harder on a consistent basis over the last five years compared to Hopkins. On top of that, Hopkins is an exceptional fighter/athlete when it comes to retaining so much of his ability and skills at such an advanced age. Maybe it's me, but De La Hoya's edge on the birth certificate may not be quite as monumental as the date indicates.

When it comes to comparing Hopkins and De La Hoya, it's not out of the question that age could just about be a wash on September 18th 2004.

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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