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Articles of 2004

The Fascination With Mike Tyson Has Always Mystified Me



He's back. That's right, Mike Tyson is back. Only this is “The New Mike Tyson.” The new Mike Tyson has declared Bankruptcy, lives in a modest house in Arizona, and only has two cars. The new Mike Tyson talks to the boxing press and even shows up and works out for them as scheduled. The new Mike Tyson doesn't travel with a 200 person entourage, and his training camp has only one voice, that of trainer Freddie Roach. Ever since signing to fight British Heavyweight Danny Williams in Louisville, Kentucky, a new Mike Tyson has emerged. The fight with Williams marks Tyson's first fight in the last 17 months, and only his second in the last 25.

Most observers view the new Mike Tyson as a welcome change. However, there is one thing that the new Mike Tyson definitely shares with the old Mike Tyson. Fortunately the new Mike Tyson has the same draw and star power as the old Mike Tyson. It's amazing how Tyson is still the biggest name and star in professional boxing. Some may try and argue that Oscar De La Hoya is on par with Tyson in star power and draw. I say no way. Let's see De La Hoya eight years removed from the last time he held a piece of the title, at age 38, fighting a journeyman and it be a PPV event.

How's this for proof of Tyson's Rock Star following. ESPN, the all sports cable network, has devoted daily features on Tyson since Sunday, six days before the fight. Some of the segments have been up to a full half hour. ESPN hardly ever covers the sport of boxing. In fact, ESPN’s boxing coverage is so scarce, it doesn’t even cover or promote the fights it airs weekly on sister station ESPN 2. Yet ESPN has dedicated almost an entire week to Tyson.

The rage over Tyson has always escaped me — until I finally figured out that a lot of Tyson fans aren't boxing fans. They are simply Tyson fans. Following him and his career is the extent of their boxing reference and knowledge. Like with anything else, having the ability to crossover is the difference between those who are stars and those who are super-stars and legends. What makes Tyson special is that he draws people from all different walks of life to his fights.

I guess the fact that I'm a boxing purest makes it hard for me to comprehend the fuss over Tyson the fighter. I've always believed that who a fighter beat and how he faired versus the best fighters he faced spoke volumes about him. A careful review of Tyson's record clearly points out that the two best fighters he ever fought, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, both stopped him. Think about that, Tyson is 0-3 against the best fighters he ever fought. A strong case can be made that Tyson is more known for his loses than his wins. How many all time great fighters can that be said about?

Tyson was a fan favorite because he provided fans one thing they love to see when watching Heavyweight's fight — knockouts. The caliber of the opponent didn't matter when Tyson fought, they just wanted to see him knock somebody out.

Another thing I never understood was the excuses many fans afforded Tyson when he lost. It was never what his opponent did to beat him, it was always because of what Tyson didn't do. In other words, only Tyson had any say in the outcome of the fight.

When reviewing Tyson's overall body of work, it looks impressive at first glance. He was the youngest Heavyweight Champ in history, and his record is made up of many early round knockouts. On the other hand, he is the youngest ex-Champ in Heavyweight history, and there are some names missing on his record of some of the better fighters of his era.

Three or four of his successful title defenses were against fighters that Larry Holmes stopped more than a couple years earlier. Yet when Tyson stopped those same fighters it was viewed as a monumental feat. Tyson also paid Lennox Lewis step aside money to clear the path for him to fight Bruce Seldon in 1996. Could anybody even fathom Ali paying George Foreman step aside money to clear the way for him to fight Henry Cooper? I'll answer that, Hell no. Ali could've never lived that down, yet Tyson does it and is provided excuses by his fans.

Evander Holyfield is the fighter of Tyson’s era he is most measured against. When Tyson fought Holyfield the first time, Holyfield was coming off of the two worst fights of his career to date, yet he stopped Tyson. The Holyfield who stopped Tyson hadn't won a fight by stoppage in five years. In their rematch, Tyson was losing and feared being stopped for the second consecutive time by Holyfield. So he bit both of Holyfield’s ears, later claiming retaliation for Holyfield head-butting him. Much to my amazement, there was a large faction of Tyson fans who actually bought his pitiful excuse.

Muhammad Ali lost the first time he fought his most bitter rival, Joe Frazier. Could anyone fathom Ali biting Frazier in their rematch because he was losing to him again? No way would Ali have had the excuses made for him by his fans that Tyson's followers made.

What Tyson did when he bit Holyfield was quit. To me, that's worse than being knocked out. By quitting, Tyson was admitting defeat and admitting that Holyfield was the better fighter. The fact that Tyson quit against Holyfield erases all doubt as to who was the greater fighter. However, many Tyson fans will try and argue that Tyson was the better fighter, which defies all reason and logic, not to mention objectivity.

Another question that jumps out when evaluating Tyson's record is, who is the best fighter he beat? The names Holmes and Spinks are impressive, but when Tyson beat them they were well past their prime, all that remained was their great name. How about the names Tucker and Ruddock? Yes, the two best fighters Mike Tyson beat in his career are Tony Tucker and Razor Ruddock. When Tyson defeated them they were both two big strong young Heavyweight's at the top of their game. However, neither of them will ever be considered great fighters by any respected historian. Tyson fans always bring up his unique combination of power and hand speed, which was better than any other puncher in Heavyweight history. That being acknowledged, it still only carried him past Tucker and Ruddock.

At age 20 Mike Tyson became the youngest Heavyweight Champ in history. What is overlooked is the fact that Tyson has not defeated a fighter who could even be considered outstanding since two days before he turned 25. On June 28th, 1991, Tyson decisioned Razor Ruddock over 12 rounds. Ruddock is the last top fighter he beat. I ask, how many other great Heavyweight Champions never beat a top fighter after age 24? The answer would be — not one.

When grading Tyson on pure physical skill and talent, he ranks among the best ever. Tyson's physical ability has never been questioned by any skeptic or critic. What Tyson lacked was the toughness and confidence that the fighters considered the greatest of the greats had in abundance. Tyson has never got up off the canvas to pull a fight out. And it can easily be argued that when he confronted fighters who weren't scared or intimidated by him, he lost.

Throughout his entire 19 year pro career, Mike Tyson has been one of the biggest draws in history, right up there with Dempsey, Louis, and Ali. The problem is that some confuse being an attraction with greatness. Many among the Tyson faction have argued over the years that Tyson is the greatest Heavyweight Champ in history, or that he could've been. Those who voice that opinion couldn't be more wrong.

Forget about opinions and excuses, the fact is Mike Tyson lost miserably to the best fighters he ever fought. He never beat a top fighter after his 24th birthday, and quit in the biggest redemption fight of his career, his rematch with Evander Holyfield. Most great fighters have that one signature win that defines their career and solidifies their greatness. Mike Tyson doesn't. Maybe it's me, but I thought a fighter had to win the big fights in order to be considered great? Not lose them with a pocket full of excuses.

Look, this is not a hatchet job on Mike Tyson, but the facts are the facts. He was a great fighter in his prime, make no mistake about that. I have no problem saying he ranks among the top 15 greatest Heavyweight Champions to date. That being said, no way does he make my top ten.  The draw of Mike Tyson has befuddled me since 1986. Tonight — July 30th, 2004 — he fights British Heavyweight Danny Williams. Williams represents Tyson's first fight in the last 17 months and only his second in the last 25. In his last title fight against Lennox Lewis back in June of 2002, Tyson wasn't in the fight after the second round and was stopped in the 8th. It's been 13 years since he last beat a top fighter, and he hasn't held a piece of the Heavyweight title in over 8 years. Yet at 38 years old and fighting a journeyman, Mike Tyson has once again dominated the boxing scene for the last week. The star and draw power of Mike Tyson is nothing short of astonishing.

Oh yes, the star and draw power of Mike Tyson totally mystifies me. It has since 1986, and I have no doubt it will continue too as long as he is still fighting.

Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List



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




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




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 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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