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Articles of 2004

Tyson's Lastest Defeat Follows Familiar Pattern



Over the next couple of weeks many will write the obituary on Mike Tyson's career and evaluate his place in Heavyweight history. Since I've already written on where I place Tyson among the greatest of the greats, there is no need for me to write on that.

In his last fight versus British Heavyweight Danny Williams, Tyson was stopped in the fourth round. Just as in his previous four defeats, the fight with Williams followed a familiar pattern. Against Williams, Tyson came out in the first round throwing bombs looking to end the fight. In that round Tyson landed some big shots on Williams and shook him pretty good. Tyson, along with Jack Dempsey, is the fastest starting Heavyweight Champ in history. In those first couple rounds he is very dangerous, as his record is comprised of many early round knockouts. This is also what helped him become boxing’s biggest draw since Muhammad Ali

For the first couple rounds, Tyson is a cyclone. The anticipation of that early onslaught has intimidated many fighters. It is a scenario that played out many times when Tyson fought, resulting in him having many fighters beat before their hands were wrapped. Ten days prior to the Tyson-Williams fight, I wrote what I thought Williams had to do in order to have the best chance of beating Tyson.

When I outlined what I thought Williams had to do to beat Tyson, I emphatically pointed out two things that were absolutely paramount. The first thing I said Williams had to do was not be intimidated by Tyson. Tyson is a master at seeing through his opponent and sensing their fear. I also stated that Williams had to extend the fight. What I meant by extending the fight was making it through the first two rounds. I said the longer the fight went, the more Williams chances of winning increased.

One of the reasons Williams was thought to have no chance against Tyson was because many in the British press reported that Williams was known for succumbing to pressure. If nothing else was a given in this fight, Tyson applying mental and physical pressure on Williams was. How Williams handled that pressure would determine whether or not he even had a chance to compete in the fight.

On July 30th, 2004, Williams accomplished the two most important things a fighter can do when facing Tyson, and the fight followed a familiar pattern, resulting in Williams scoring the biggest victory of his career. To the surprise of many observers, Williams was not intimidated by Tyson at all and showed up to fight, instead of just to survive and get paid.

The other thing Williams did that he had to do was make it out of the first two rounds. Although he was hit hard during the first two rounds and was obviously shook a few times, he didn't come unglued and he fought back. Once Williams made it through those first two rounds, he was half way home and on his way to beating Tyson.

The loss to Williams is the fifth defeat of Tyson's career. One thing that has always amazed me while observing Tyson's career, is the fact that when he is hit back hard, he stops fighting. I noticed that as far back as 1986 when he was still trained by Kevin Rooney. The fact is when Mike Tyson is hit, he goes into a shell and stops fighting for periods during the round. For anyone who has closely watched Tyson fight from the start of his career, this shouldn't be ground breaking news, it's stood out to me for years.

What is it about Tyson that when he gets hit cleanly he stops fighting? Mike Tyson has been a two round fighter his whole career. Any fighter who showed up to fight him, who wasn't afraid and who made it through the first few rounds usually competed with him. The key was just making it out of the first few rounds. Once Tyson had to fight beyond the third round, he would become predictable. His pattern would be to just follow his opponent around the ring looking to end the fight with one punch. Tyson also becomes very stationary and easy to hit once he starts to slow and tire.

After three or four rounds his combinations and punch output start to decrease. Along with his aggression starting to cease, his inner confidence fades and self-doubt creeps into his mind. Just looking at his face in some of his defeats you could see he was second guessing himself. It's been the same pattern throughout his entire career. That to me is the biggest reason why I never hailed Tyson as great a fighter.

All one has to do is look at his record objectively. What one sees is that Tyson beat two fighters who didn't fold in the first couple rounds and extended the fight into the later rounds, Tony Tucker and Razor Ruddock. Yes, they are the only two fighters Tyson defeated who fought back hard and late into the fight. Tucker and Ruddock were both very good fighters, but not great by anyone’s standards. The only other times in Tyson's career where he had to fight into the second half of the fight were against Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis, and he lost convincingly to all three.

There have been three great fighters since the 1920's who fought a swarming pressure style like Tyson. They are Dempsey, Marciano, and Frazier. The difference between them and Tyson was they had an abundance of stamina. In the cases of Marciano and Frazier, they got stronger and more aggressive the longer the fight went, and they both carried their punch late in the fight. Another thing separating Dempsey, Marciano, and Frazier from Tyson is they never lost confidence and stopped fighting when met with an opponent’s incoming punches.

When an opponent fought Dempsey, Marciano, or Frazier, the best chance they had was to try and catch them in the first one or two rounds before they got warmed up and into the fight. Their opponents knew the longer the fight went, the less their chances of winning and the more they'd get worked over. When fighting Tyson the opposite applies. Get through the first couple rounds and your chance of winning increases.

In his fight versus Williams, Tyson held to form. Williams made it through the first two rounds and picked up the pace in the third. Tyson, as expected, slowed down and stopping fighting, throwing wild shots in desperation. As he tired he became almost a sitting duck as his confidence dwindled. Once Tyson is reduced to throwing one shot in return during the exchanges, it's only a matter of time before he mentally accepts defeat and goes out.

This is not an indictment on Tyson's chin, because he has a very good chin. However, every time Tyson has been in a give and take fight, he's lost. He has never pulled out a fight he was losing, or came off the canvas to win one. His fans can talk about his combination of hand speed and power all they want. Tyson's lack of toughness to fight through adversity is his most telling weakness and says more about him as a fighter than anything else.

HBO broadcaster Larry Merchant was an original investor in the Cloverlay Corporation. The Cloverlay Corp bank rolled Joe Frazier's career from 1965 through 1974. Merchant also covered Mike Tyson's career from his pro debut through his prime 1985-90. I once asked him to compare Frazier and Tyson. His exact response was as follows.

“Joe Frazier was a mile wide and a mile deep,” Mike Tyson is a mile wide and an inch deep.” Nothing I have ever heard or read sums up Mike Tyson's shortcomings as a fighter as profoundly as Merchant’s words.

For the record, I've always felt that Tyson was overrated at his peak by many writers and fans. If talent alone determined greatness, then Tyson is among the greats. However, talent is only a part of what determines an athlete or a fighter’s greatness. That being said, Mike Tyson is not one of the top-ten greatest Heavyweight Champions of all time. However, if excuses count, then maybe a case can be made for him?

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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