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Articles of 2004

Muhammad Ali or Joe Louis: Who Really Was The Greatest?

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Muhammad Ali, self proclaimed “The Greatest,” fought 61 bouts over a course of 21 years. With a career record of 56 wins, 37 coming by way of knockout, and 5 losses, Ali was also the first man to win the heavyweight title three times.

When he was still known as Cassius Clay, he won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics as a light heavyweight. In 1964 Clay won the first of his three heavyweight titles when he stunned the boxing world by defeating the seemingly unbeatable Sonny Liston. With all his accomplishments in the ring, how would Muhammad Ali in the prime of his carrier have stacked up against the man many boxing experts consider to be the greatest heavyweight of all time, Joe Louis?

When discussing great fighters in any weight class, the name Joe Louis inevitably comes up. Louis fought a total of 71 professional fights, winning 68, an incredible 54 by knockout, and losing only 3. “The Brown Bomber” has laid claim to some accomplishments of his own that will never be matched. At a time when this country was living under the household rule, “If you wanna be Heavyweight Champion, you’ve gotta be white,” Joe Louis was widely respected by all Americans. Winning the heavyweight title a full decade before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier was just one of Louis’ many achievements as a heavyweight fighter.

Having lost a non-title fight to Max Schmeling in 1936, Louis won the heavyweight title a year later by knocking out the heavyweight champion at the time, James Braddock. Still holding the heavyweight title, it was June of 1938 when Louis was given a rematch with Schmeling, this time with Louis’ title at stake. The fight was considered much more than a re-match, not only to Louis but to everyone in the country. The bout only lasted 124 seconds, but Joe Louis’ victory over Max Schmeling will endure forever. Having beat Adolf Hitler’s symbol of the superior Aryan race, that fight will long be remembered as one of the major sporting events of the 20th century.

Joe Louis held the heavyweight championship title from 1937 to 1949, the longest streak in boxing history. Louis held the title longer than the great John L. Sullivan, who held the title from 1882 to 1892, and the renowned Jack Dempsey, who held the title from 1919 to 1926.

In comparing Louis and Ali, I will consider the quality of opposition the two faced, the strengths and weaknesses each man possessed and, lastly, something I think should be considered with today’s fighters, the timeliness of their retirement. That is, did they continue on fighting well past their prime? Did they put themselves in a position to loss to opponents they should have beaten easily at one time?

Starting with Joe Louis, it’s been said that he lacked the technique of some of the greats before him. It’s also been noted that Louis lacked “The beautiful ring science” of Jim Corbett and the lightening speed of Jack Dempsey. However, he combined enough of these assets along with the extreme power of his punches to be among the most devastating heavyweights of all time. His opposition was considered a combination of the good and the mediocre. His three losses were a knockout by Max Schmeling before he became a title holder, a loss to Ezzard Charles and a knockout by Rocky Marciano when he made his comeback attempt.

Ali fought his first pro fight in 1960 at the age of 18. Early in his carrier it was quickly apparent that he possessed unbelievable hand and foot speed. In an unorthodox style, Ali had a habit of holding his hands low and bobbing to evade punches to the head. The habit of holding his hands low was responsible for more than a few knockdowns. Also, he didn’t possess the power in his lightening fast jabs to do any lasting damage to his opponents. In most cases Ali was able to outsmart his opponents, as in his fight with Foreman in “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Foreman had much harder punching power, but was worn out in the extreme heat and volume of punches he threw as Ali lay on the ropes.

An example of Ali’s style of holding his hands low was his fight against Henry Cooper on 6/18/1963. Still known as Cassius Clay, he taunted Cooper with his hands held low as he swayed away from Cooper’s hooks. In the 4th round Clay swayed right into a left hook from Cooper that sent Clay to the canvas. Clay made it to his feet at the count of four, just before the bell rang to end the round. Suffice to say, had the punch been a hook, jab or any other power punch from Joe Louis, Clay would not have gotten up at any count.

In the case of both fighters it can be said they both fought past there prime. For Joe Louis, he retired heavyweight champion of the world in 1948 after knocking out Jersey Joe Walcott. Two years later he tried to regain the title only to loss a 15 round title fight to heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles. He fought through 1951 until finally retiring after a KO loss to Rocky Marciano.

In Muhammad Ali’s carrier, having lost and regained the heavyweight title three times was a remarkable achievement. In 1978, at the age of 36, Ali lost the heavyweight title to Leon Spinks then re-won the title seven months later and retired from boxing. Two years later Ali made an attempt to regain the title from Larry Holmes and was TKOed in the 11th round. One year later he made another attempt at fighting Trevor Berbick in a 10 round match that he again lost.

In considering all aspects of both fighters, Joe Louis clearly comes out the superior of the two. At a time in this country when the odds were stacked against Louis, he prevailed against all odds and should go down in history as the greatest heavyweight of all time.

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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