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Articles of 2004

Do We Need a Heavyweight Limit?

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I can see why lower weight fighters are jealous of their heavyweight colleagues. I mean think about it, while a dominant lightweight champion would need to fight numerous times to make several million dollars, a heavyweight champion can take home that much for a single title defense. Even a nominal heavyweight is recognized by the general boxing fan, while a Hall-of-Fame caliber flyweight couldn't cause a single head to turn if his hair was on fire.

Heavyweights are the BMOC- that's big man on campus- in the game of boxing. There the one's everyone else notices, the one people cater to. And more importantly, they make the most money. Yeah sure, you'll have guys like Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya every once in a while, but those guys are definitely the exception and not the rule.

Seriously, when was the last time you heard a heavyweight say,” I want to start making welterweight money'? Now, I've always been of the belief that the heavyweight are the least skilled of our prizefighters, but there is still something magical about a heavyweight championship that draws the attention of the public at large. Just see how many headlines a great featherweight bout gets compared to a decent heavyweight tilt. It tells you all you need to know.

As they say, there's boxing, and then there's heavyweight boxing. There is a difference.

And to top it off, these big lugs don't even have to make weight. All they have to do is show up and fight. No cutting weight, no eating ice cubs and rice cakes two weeks before the weigh-in, no diuretics being gulped down to make sure the needle on the scale heads south, none of that. Some guys have all the luck.

But is that being abused by todays generation of heavyweights?

Let me give you some recent examples of what I'm talking about.

Just a couple of weeks ago both Michael Moorer and Lawrence Clay-Bey were in action on Showtime and ESPN2 respectively.

Moorer at one time was a heavyweight titlist who had earned millions of dollars. But in a cliche played out too many times in this sport, he squandered much of it away and still finds himself in a game he never really liked at age 36. On this night in Miami, he would find himself as the proverbial big name, faded, opponent to one Eliseo Castillo. He had a 'punchers chance' and if he should get lucky, he could be at least a fringe player once again.

So what does he do? He shows up at a fat and flabby 251 pounds and loses a ten round decision. Now, I know it's been a full decade since he first won his title against Evander Holyfield, at 214 pounds, in 1994 and people do get older and their metabolisms change, but he is a professional athlete- and one that should have a sense of urgency- shouldn't he have been a little lighter?

But I guess since he's a recognizable name, just showing up was good enough for the promoters.

Clay-Bey, is a guy that doesn't have Moorer's resume but is still a guy who can be a serviceable heavyweight. A 1996 Olympian, he began his rise up the ladder fighting consistently around 230-240. Looking at Clay-Bey, he'll never have that rock-hard, ripped look. Which is fine, this is boxing, not body-building. But as his career was plagued by hand problems which kept him on the sideline, his weight began to balloon. It seemed recently that the only shape he comes into fights now, is round.

Against an over-matched Imamu Mayfield, he would win via knockout. But looking at his physical appearance it didn't leave you with a positive feeling about his performance. It was just four years ago that he was putting on a gallant performance in a losing effort against Cliff Etienne, where he came in at 235.

Is Clay-Bey really better served by having an extra 20 pounds on him?

Then there was the case of Kirk Johnson, who in his last fight against Vitaly Klitschko came in at a not-exactly-svelte, 260-pounds. Just nine months earlier in stopping Lou Savarese in four, he weighted 243. What happened? Why did Johnson suddenly pack on the added weight? It certainly didn't help as he was stopped in two rounds by Klitschko at the Madison Square Garden. During his early run as a pro, Johnson hovered around 220 to 230.

Klitschko seems to have an innate skill at making his opponents come to the dance out of shape. In March of 2003, Corrie Sanders would stun his younger brother Wladimir in two rounds at a weight of 225. Fast forward 13 months, and Sanders was exactly 10 pounds heavier when he would be halted in eight rounds by Vitaly at the Staples Center.

Sanders, who has dreams of one day playing on the seniors golf tour, seemed to have done all his roadwork over 18 holes. In essence, he trained for the heavyweight championship like Phil Mickelson.

I don't think it's a coincidence that neither Johnson or Sanders revealed their upper bodies at the weigh-in. So now the question is, what do you call it? The 'Kirk Johnson Rule' or the 'Corrie Sanders Clause'? Which stipulates that you should never trust a fighter who won't take off their shirts at a weigh-in? Think I'm kidding? How did Oscar De La Hoya perform and look in his last bout against Felix Sturm? I'm telling ya, there's something to this.

There's a common thread to what I just pointed out. One, these guys are all heavyweights, which means that the promoters and television executives will put up with a lot more than they would from say, a flyweight, who doesn't make 112-pounds. To them, heavyweights mean more headlines and bigger ratings. Also, these guys are pretty well-established in one way or the other, maybe they just lost their hunger- or didn't, depending on the way you want to look at it.

And here's the most important thing, and this really applies to Johnson and Sanders, people in boxing always look for a heavyweight champion, whether they want to manage him, promote him, televise him or train him. So what happens is excuses begin to be made for these guys that wouldn't be made for any other fighter. Why? Well, it's a game of survival, forget about being the guy who has the guts to tell the fighter the truth and risk his place in the organization. When money is involved- especially when it's already invested and accounted for- nobody wants to risk not getting in on the possible payout.

Both Johnson and Sanders, either through a huge signing bonus( which Johnson received after signing with Duva Boxing) or staging a big upset( like Sanders), all of a sudden came into lucrative situations and in many respects, cashed out themselves. You don't think this happens? Just look at the weight of one David Tua, who after getting a million dollar signing bonus from the now-extinct America Presents, started to fight north of 240 on a regular basis.

Face it, heavyweights are spoiled, and they always will be. The allure of being involved with a heavyweight champion is so great that the people around them will acquiesce to their whims and demands. On the flip-side, many of these guys just aren't that disciplined.

OK, but what can be done about it? You really can't force guys to work hard- after all, if they don't, at the end of the day the one that's most effected by that is the fighters themselves. And of course, there's no weight limit that heavyweights have to make.

Or is there?

Think about it, if you're a promoter or network and you're investing millions of dollars into an event, don't you have the right to expect two athletes to come into the fight in some semblance of shape? And if you're a fan plunking down your hard earned money to either purchase a ticket or a pay-per-view broadcast, you have the right- to not necessarily expect a great fight, that simply can not be guaranteed- but that the fighters at least come in proper shape. When it's all said and done, that's all any of us can ask for.

So how bout this? A promoter, when he signs a fight, can stipulate that a heavyweight must come within a certain weight or percentage of the weight he was in for his last fight. Or you can take the average of what he's weighed for his last ten fights, round it off, and then put a clause into the bout agreement that the fighter can not come in more than five pounds above that number.

Remember, unlike another other divisions that have a set weight limit, the parameters being set here are from the fighters themselves. And they don't even have to hit a specific number, but come within percentage points of it. You don't think some middleweight who's starving himself and eating once a day wouldn't take that deal?

We really don't expect too much from our heavyweights these days, yet we still give them a lot.

Shouldn't we at least expect them to be a bit professional?

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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