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Articles of 2004

The Half-Year Awards in Boxing

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We're heading into the last days of June and into the thick of a long, hot summer. Which means that half the year is over and if the second half of the year is anything like the first, boxing will have had quite an eventful year.

Who knows what the next six months holds in store for boxing? For all we know the game could have already given us the best it has to offer for 2004. Or, maybe, just maybe, it was a prelude to some spectacular happenings that are still to come.

That's the beauty of boxing, good or bad, it's full of surprises. But we can reflect on what has happened in front of our eyes already. So with that, I present to you the IBOP, Half-Year Awards for 2004.

FIGHTER OF THE HALF-YEAR: Antonio Tarver

It's going to take a lot to take out the talkative Tarver in this category. I mean, he didn't just beat Roy Jones in their rematch, he starched him with a single punch. He not only knocked Jones off his perch as the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, he has historians and fans alike questioning his place in history.

Before this fight Jones was considered by some as an elite, all-time great. Now? Well, let's put it this way, I don't see as many people saying his name in the same breath as Sugar Ray Robinson as I did just a few months ago.

FIGHT OF THE HALF-YEAR: Manny Pacquiao Draw 12 Juan Manuel Marquez

This bout here should go down as one of the best featherweight battles in history. The 'Pac Man' would floor Marquez three times in the first, only to have Marquez methodically box his way back from the brink to nearly pull out the fight.

In many ways it was appropriate that it was a draw, because on this night, nobody lost.

KNOCKOUT OF THE HALF-YEAR: Tarver KO2 Jones

It was even more shocking if you were there ringside, trust me. Most of us had never seen Jones hit that hard before, much less stretched out like he was. Being there was almost surreal. If you watch the fight on tape, look out into the audience and see how many jaws you see dropping on the floor.

And think about this, has there ever been a time when a supposed all-time great got knocked out by a single, solitary punch, like Jones was?

UPSET OF THE HALF-YEAR: Lamon Brewster KO5 Wladimir Klitschko

Brewster was a heavy underdog against the giant Ukrainian and was taking the worst of it when suddenly Klitschko seemed to tire badly in the fifth and Brewster hurt him with a left hook. At the end of the round Klitschko would fall to the floor, unable to get up to the satisfaction of referee Robert Byrd, who waved off the fight.

As bizarre as that ending was, it was just as exhilarating to see the emotion and pure joy of Brewster, who had dedicated this fight to his original trainer and mentor Bill Slayton, who had passed away months earlier.

Shortly afterwords the Klitschko camp would come up with more conspiracy theories than Oliver Stone, but thankfully their pleas fell on deaf ears.

ROBBERY OF THE HALF-YEAR: Matt Vanda W10 Sam Garr

You want to talk about your classic 'hometown decision?' This fight here should be placed in the Webster Dictionary as its definition.

Most anyone that saw that fight on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights will tell you that Garr, a solid veteran, had to have won at least seven or eight of the ten rounds. But sadly and predictably, Garr would lose a split decision in a state whose boxing commission was done away with by former wrestler, turned Governor, Jesse Ventura.

The irony is not hard to miss, is it?

TRAINER OF THE HALF-YEAR: Joe Goossen

Goossen was in an interesting spot when Diego Corrales tabbed him as the chief second for his rematch against Joel Casamayor this past March. Goossen had trained Casamayor for the past five years and was in the corner of the southpaw, Cuban when he beat Corrales last October.

Well, this being boxing, somehow Goossen was now in 'Chico's' corner for the return bout.

And it wasn't just the fact that Corrales evened things up with Casamayor that gets him this award, but the fact that he had Corrales – a pure puncher, who likes to walk straight in and bang – boxing and sticking his jab from the outside. He essentially out-boxed a slick boxer.
Now, that's training.

STORY OF THE HALF-YEAR: FBI raids Top Rank

Was anyone out there not a bit stunned that the Feds came storming into the offices of Top Rank? Seriously, I thought the FBI only did that stuff to Don King? Since that point in early January, there have been plenty of rumors and innuendo about the dealing of Bob Arum and his employees. One manager, Bob Mittleman, has already admitted to fixing fights in the past. Who knows what will come of this next?

Maybe this will be impetus for real reform in this game. Or perhaps nothing comes out of this.
But Top Rank deserves due process like anybody else. It could be that this is a huge story, or really not a story at all. We shall see.

PANAMA LEWIS OF THE HALF-YEAR AWARD: Stacy McKinley

Just last week Tito Mendoza gave a brave and gallant effort in losing against Librado Andrade. He would get floored twice early on to survive all 12 rounds. But it turns out that his cornerman, McKinley, had used smelling salts – which have been outlawed for years – to help revive his man. McKinley was reprimanded by the California Athletic Commission and will most likely be suspended. Mendoza, had his check withheld.

The number one priority of a corner is not to help a fighter win a fight, but to ensure his safety. What they did was not only illegal, but even more importantly, dangerous. A fighter who needs to be revived that way should not be fighting – bottom line. Boxing is already a dangerous game, it doesn't need to be made any riskier.

McKinley and another cornerman reportedly defended themselves by claiming ignorance of the rule. In that case, their infraction is even worse – because it's their jobs to know. Either they're lying or truly ignorant, and with the responsibility a corner has to a fighter, neither should be tolerated.

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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