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Articles of 2004

Roach Hints It May Be The End For Mike Tyson

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Freddie Roach was shaken by the magnitude of the moment.

His eyes were red and glassy. His lower lip quivered. His voiced cracked.

Mike Tyson's trainer was understandably emotional Friday night after the astonishing loss to British commoner Danny Williams in Louisville's Freedom Hall. Tyson was knocked out late in the fourth round after a torrent of 19 unanswered punches.

The defeat didn't upset Roach as much as what it signified. Tyson's humiliating night marked the end of his career. Roach knew it even though he wouldn't openly admit it.

“It definitely could be over,” Roach said. “Part of me wants to say it is over.”

Roach was overcome with a flood of memories as he spoke with a small group of reporters after the bout. He knew how Tyson must have been feeling, trying to cope with the sudden realization the glory days are gone, never to return.

“This is an addicting sport,” Roach said. “This is f*cking hard to give up, this sport. I'm telling you, I was there. I tell you what: It's sad when you have to retire, when it's over.”

Roach was a crowd-pleasing featherweight whose career reached its end when he was 25.

Only Roach didn't know it or at least he refused to admit it. His trainer, the late Eddie Futch, advised him to quit after a 1985 loss to Greg Haugen. The TKO marked Roach's fifth defeat in 11 bouts and third defeat in six bouts.

“It's so hard to retire from this sport,” Roach said. “When Eddie Futch told me I had to retire I said 'No,' that he didn't know what he was talking about. So I fought five more fights and lost four of them.

“I should have took his advice. I will give Mike the right advice. We'll watch the tape. We'll talk about the fight, and I'll give my honest opinion about what he should do, and that will dictate what I do with Mike in the future.”

Roach, however, clearly was already thinking about the end of Tyson's road. Roach was asked many tough questions about the 38-year-old heavyweight's future, and he often prefaced his answers with a long, mournful exhale.

But Roach, ever the straight shooter, didn't hold back when asked if the Tyson he saw Friday night could be a contender again.

“No,” Roach replied dejectedly. “I said this before the fight: Danny Williams is a guy that he should beat, and he didn't. He can't be a contender if he can't beat a guy like Danny Williams.”

Tyson's intentions were not immediately clear after the fight.

Neither he nor manager Shelly Finkel showed up for the postfight news conference. Tyson was taken to the hospital for a precautionary brain scan, to have his right eye stitched and to have his twisted left knee examined.

Tyson's record looks impressive at 54-5 with 44 knockouts, but he is only 5-4 with two no-contests in his past 11 bouts, a stretch that started with his first loss to Evander Holyfield in November 1996.

Tyson hasn't defeated a significant opponent since Razor Ruddock 13 years ago, and that's being generous. Tyson's last monumental victory might be his 91-second blowout over Michael Spinks 16 years ago.

Roach said he and Tyson would have a long heart-to-heart talk Saturday afternoon on the long flight from Louisville to Phoenix.

Roach suggested he would walk away — as Futch did nearly 19 years ago — if he and Tyson disagree about forging ahead.

“I'm going to have to make my own decision if I'm going to be involved,” Roach said.

Testament to what Tyson should do was found in Roach's review of their preparations for the fight. Tyson was fighting for the first time in 17 months, but Roach was overly pleased with their three-month training camp.

The Boxing Writers Association of America's 2003 trainer of the year mentioned how Tyson slimmed down from 268 pounds to 233 (still the third heaviest weight of his career), how Tyson had stopped smoking marijuana for almost a year (even though he reeked of it at the postfight news conference for Vitali Klitschko's obliteration of Kirk Johnson less than eight months ago and other sources close to Tyson said he had been smoking in earnest recently) and how focused Tyson was in reclaiming the heavyweight crown.

Roach was also convinced Tyson was doing it for the glory and not the paycheck.

Tyson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year after squandering about $400 million in career earnings. He owes, according to some reports, over $40 million on back taxes, alimony, child support and other mind-boggling debts.

“Money wasn't the issue,” Roach said. “He saw where the champions were Lamon Brewster and Vitali Klitschko and these guys, and he said 'I can bet those guys. I want to make a comeback.' He definitely thinks he can be world champion again and wanted to clean his life up and go out on a winning note.”

In the dressing room after Williams had done the unthinkable, Roach said Tyson was contrite.

“He said he was sorry,” said Roach. “I said 'Mike, you don't have to say you're sorry to me or anybody in the world. You showed a lot of heart. You looked good for a couple rounds. You were doing the right things.'”

Those words usually get uttered in a loser's dressing room. Those were the sentiments Williams was supposed to hear down the hall.

He showed a lot of heart.

He looked good for a couple of rounds.

He was doing the right things.

Yet Tyson still lost.

“I care about Mike a lot,” Roach said. “I hate to see him get hurt. Retirement is definitely possible because I care about Mike. He fought very hard and game tonight, but he took a lot of shots.

“(Retirement) is definitely in my thoughts right now, but it's so close to the fight. “

The evening seemed like it would go according to Team Tyson's plan after the opening bell.

Tyson demonstrated quick hands, wonderful head movement and a crisp jab. He staggered Williams with a left hook to the chin followed by a left uppercut.

“I thought we were on our way to a quick knockout,” Roach said. “Williams showed a lot of heart. People said he didn't have one, and he proved us wrong.”

Williams somehow remained on his feet and clinched long enough to gather his wits until the round ended.

“His punching power, I would say, was less than what I thought,” Williams said. “I've seen him knock out Trevor Berbick and Michael Spinks; I thought he hit lighter than that.”

Tyson also hurt his left knee at the end of the first round. He appeared to twist it when he stepped forward to throw a hook. His punch output decreased thereafter.

“He told me he couldn't turn the left hook over, that it hurt his knee,” Roach said. “I told Mike 'You know, you're going to have to suck it up and go out there and fight.' It's just one of those things. He went out there and tried. I was proud of Mike.”

Said Williams: “I didn't realize he was injured in any way, shape or form. My thing was just to get past the first two rounds and give it to him.”

Chants of “Ty-son! Ty-son!” at the start of the second round couldn't spur the former undisputed champ.

Tyson slowly but surely began to get lazy with his footwork and head movement, choosing instead to load up for the KO.

“It was the start of our downfall when Mike wasn't moving his head,” Roach said. “When Mike doesn't move his head he's just a sitting duck out there. He's a big target. We're working on it over and over in the gym. He showed good in the first two rounds, but he didn't stay with it and lost track of the gameplan.”

Williams started to land clean punches and seemed content to back himself into a corner and trade.

“My gameplan was to box,” Williams said. “But once he hit me with that hard shot I just went to war. I thought with me being the bigger guy I knew I would wear him out eventually. My strategy paid off.”

Williams' strategy didn't include dealing with two opponents in the same ring.

Referee Dennis Alfred, working in his hometown, was shameless in his treatment of Williams, deducting a point on two occasions without a single warning. One point was for hitting on the break. The other was for a low blow that landed on Tyson's hip.

“The referee was a proper joke,” Williams said. “He was giving me so much trouble. There was no way I was going to win on points. The ref was on the verge of chucking me out.”

Williams knew he would have to win by a knockout and reacted accordingly in the fourth round. He refused to be intimidated by the man once known as the Baddest Man on the Planet.

Williams finally landed a blow that stunned Tyson long enough to jump on him. The big underdog threw about 30 punches, with 19 finding their mark, until a right hook to the temple finally sent Tyson slouching into the ropes and onto the mat.

“Once I hurt him I just let go,” Williams said. “I kept punching and punching. When he went down I thought he was more exhausted than anything.”

Alfred made sure Tyson had ample time to rise from the canvas. The hapless ref was more concerned with making sure Williams was in a neutral corner than with counting to 10.

The bout, despite several extra seconds from Alfred, ended anyway.

The bonus time Friday night was an aberration for Tyson.

In every other regard his time is running out even faster now.

“At 24 years old I was called an old man,” Roach said. “At 27 I retired from boxing. It's going to be difficult for me and for Mike to do that, but we're going to do what's best for Mike. I promise you that.”

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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