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Articles of 2004

Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler – Two of Boxing’s Greats

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Willie Pep turned pro in 1940 at the age of 18, coming off an outstanding amateur career in his home state of Connecticut. Pep had won the State flyweight and bantamweight championships the previous two years, in 1938 and 1939.

Pep started his professional career by winning an unheard of sixty-two consecutive fights over three years. His first loss was in 1942 to world class lightweight Sammy Angott, who outweighed Pep by 12 pounds. Willie went the distance with Angott, losing the fight on points in a 10 round decision.

During Pep’s sixty-two consecutive wins, he challenged title holder Chalky Wright for the featherweight belt. Pep won a 15 round decision against the title holder in 1942, becoming the new Undisputed Featherweight Champion of the World and the youngest featherweight title holder at the age of 21.

Pep held the title for six years before being stopped by Sandy Saddler with a 4th round KO in a championship fight on October 29, 1948. Except for a draw with Jimmy McAllister in December of 1945, Willie Pep had a total of 134 wins out of 136 bouts until his loss to Sandler. Along with that 4th round knockout by Sandler, Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler would embark on four of the most memorable championship fights in the history of featherweight boxing.

Sandy Saddler turned pro in 1944 at the age of 17. Having fought just 50 bouts as an amateur, Saddler started his pro career as a bantamweight. After winning his first fight by decision, he was knocked out in his second fight to a more experienced Jock Leslie. That was the only time Sandy Saddler was knocked out in his 162 fight career. Saddler soon moved up to the featherweight division and was quickly recognized by Ring magazine as a top contender in the featherweight division. In his second year as a pro, 1945, Saddler fought 24 fights, going 24-0 with 17 knockouts.

The 5 foot, 8 and a half inch tall-124 to 130 pound Sandler didn’t look like much of a puncher, but he was one of the best. With 103 career knockouts, he not only holds the featherweight record for knockouts, but is ranked sixth on the all time knockout list. He fought 93 fights before his knockout win over Willie Pep for the featherweight title. The first of the four title fights took place in New York on October 29, 1948, with Saddler winning by a 4th round knockout.

Willie Pep was considered skillful, sharp, a beautiful boxer and hard hitter. He was exceptional at counter-punching, side-stepping, had outstanding defensive skills, as well as being expert at the art of feinting.

The difference between the two was with Saddler, he was not quite as skillful and sharp as Pep, but was a stronger and sturdier man. Saddler was also a two-fisted puncher who was accused by several opponents and the public of engaging in unfair tactics in the ring.

Four months after the first fight, Willie Pep regained his title from Saddler by winning a 15 round decision in Madison Square Garden. It was considered the most brutal fight of the four. Both fighters were evenly matched at 126 pounds, though Saddler was taller and had the longer reach. Saddler also possessed a left jab unlike any other. It was almost like a southpaw’s left, with Saddler being able to use it as a hook and an uppercut, as well as a jab.

In the third bout on September 8, 1950, Saddler regained the title by stopping Pep in the eighth round. Going into the fight Saddler was an 8 to 5 favorite to win. Pep was knocked down in the third round for a standing eight count. Pep was quick to recover from the knockdown and started winning the middle rounds of the fight. Saddler, not afraid to use any tactics to win, began raking Pep’s face with the laces of his gloves. Ignoring several warnings from the referee, by the 5th and 6th rounds Saddler had Pep’s face a bloody mess, with his eyes swollen shut. By the seventh round Willie Pep somehow dislocated his shoulder and was unable to answer the bell for the eighth round. Even though Pep was ahead on the judges’ scorecards, Saddler got the win.

The fourth fight, September 26, 1951, could have been considered a free-for-all. By today’s standards the fight would have been stopped disqualifying Pep and Saddler. Both fighters spent most of the fight wrestling, holding and pushing each other around the ring. At one point in the fight, the referee was even knocked to the canvas trying to separate the two. The fight was stopped after the ninth round due to swelling in Pep’s right eye. Saddler retained the title. Because of the illegal tactics used in the fight, both fighters were later suspended briefly by the New York State Athletic Commission. Saddler spent the next two years in the Army, after returning home he was allowed to retain his featherweight championship. He announced his retirement from boxing in 1957, after injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Pep continued boxing until 1959, making a brief comeback in 1965 at the age of 42. Both men were inducted into the boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

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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