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Articles of 2004

Add The Name Chris Byrd To An Already Long List

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Within the last week IBF Heavyweight Champion Chris Byrd became part of a unique boxing fraternity, one that he no doubt wishes he could've avoided. That's right, Byrd joins the long list of fighters who have sued promoter Don King for some form of breach of contract. Judd Burnstein, Byrd's attorney, filed claims for relief against King in New York District Court. The suit alleges that King knowingly perpetrated acts of fraud against Byrd. Byrd is claiming $13,000,000 in damages, and $50,000,000 in punitive damages. On top of that, Byrd is asking the court for a judgment to free him from his current contract with Don King Productions.

Basically, this goes back to when Byrd signed an exclusive promotional contract with King granting him the right to promote Chris Byrd's fights. The agreement stipulated that if Byrd won the IBF Heavyweight title, which he did when he decisioned Evander Holyfield in December of 2002 — King would see that Byrd fought twice every 12 months, with King contracted to pay Byrd $2.5 million per fight. It also stated that Byrd was to receive $2.5 million per fight regardless of the opponent or the financial success of the promotion.

Without getting bogged down in the legal jargon, what transpired is King has not paid Byrd the $2.5 million for either of the fights he's had since signing the agreement. King has said that he just can't afford to pay Byrd what the agreement calls for because his fights haven't brought in enough money. Byrd, to his credit, even settled for less money from King for the two fights he had under the contract and hadn't really made an issue of it until the last few months. It's been reported that Byrd was paid less than $1.0 million for each of the two fights he had under the agreement versus Fres Oquendo and Andrew Golota. Under the contract Byrd had with King, he should've been paid $5.0 million for those two bouts.

The fact that Byrd didn't get the money he was guaranteed, it didn't lead to an immediate lawsuit. What led to the lawsuit was Byrd not believing that King was being forthright with him claiming financial straights. Apparently the trust factor with Chris Byrd is a bigger issue than the money. For anyone who knows or has spent time with Byrd, it's easy to see that he's not all about money. However, don't let him sense that you may be lying to him or trying to pull one over on him. Byrd, being a man of strong faith and principle, probably can't be part of an agreement once he loses trust in the other party. If he no longer can take King at his word, which is most likely the case, then it's easy to see why this will be decided by the court.

The fallout from this contract dispute between Chris Byrd and Don King Productions can have a damning effect on not just Byrd, but the Heavyweight division. If somehow Byrd is unable to box while he fights it out with King in court, the division will be minus one of its best fighters. Chris Byrd is one of the few fighters around today in any division who never squawks about money, and who is more than willing to fight anybody.

The Heavyweight division as of this writing is very pedestrian at best. Many of the upper tier Heavyweights don't always show up in top shape and aren't always willing to fight the best opposition. That's where Byrd breaks the mold. He is always in top shape and knows what he's doing in the ring. Weighing usually between 205-210 pounds, Byrd has not only survived in the so called land of the giants, he's thrived in it. He is an unorthodox southpaw who is very tough, with an outstanding chin. When he fights he's so relaxed and loose, he's like trying to hit a sheet hard that's hung over a clothes line. Byrd has a way of totally neutralizing his opponents’ strengths, sort of like taking the bullets out of their gun. He is also very elusive from the waist up, and is deceptively fast. The only thing Byrd lacks is Heavyweight measurements and the knockout power that some expect to see from an upper tier Heavyweight. However, he's made his lack of size and power work to his advantage in most of his bouts.

The last thing the Heavyweight division needs is for Chris Byrd to be taken out of it over a contract dispute with Don King. Byrd is the current IBF Champ and holds a win over WBC Champ Vitali Klitschko, the fighter many boxing observers believe is the top Heavyweight in the world. There are so many potential and compelling fights that can be made involving Byrd, it would be a crime to have him sitting on the sidelines waiting his day in court. Especially since it's over money that he's already earned and should've been paid.

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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