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Articles of 2004

George Foreman: A Physical Freak Of Nature

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He didn't get his body or weight into his punches. His leverage was so-so at best. Basically, he was an arm puncher. He first won the heavyweight title in 1973 with a devastating knockout over an undefeated undisputed champion. After retiring in March of 1977, he came back in March of 1987 after a ten year hiatus during which he didn't fight once. In November of 1994 he won the title for a second time with a one punch knockout over an undefeated champ at age 45.

His name is George Foreman, and to me he is one of the biggest physical freaks of nature in sports history. Think about it, he has just about the highest knockout percentage in heavyweight history. Yet he was an arm puncher. He's the last guy you'd want teaching your fighter how to punch, because he didn't know how from a fundamental or technical vantage point. Basically, he throws a punch like a novice slaps, only his arm has a balled fist at the end.

When you match him up with past heavyweight greats as a fighter on paper, he should lose every time. George wasn't a good boxer, nor was he very fast, and his stamina was questionable in the 70's. Foreman fought with no strategy or game plan. His offense was his defense. And his attack plan was nothing more than throwing punches in the vicinity of his opponent in hopes of just maybe one of them connecting.

What George Foreman could do was punch. When you break Foreman down as a fighter, what can you really say about him? Sure he was very tough mentally and was also fearless. He had a great chin and his punching power was unmatched. His jab was a sledgehammer, and his hook and uppercut had neck-breaking power. However, all of those things, except for his mental strength and toughness, tie into his God given physical strength.

Foreman is sort of like Ali in a way. He did everything wrong, but his power bailed him out. Where Ali did everything wrong and was a flawed boxer, his speed outran and hid all of his mistakes, until father time caught him. That's what makes Foreman so amazing to me. At age 45 he was able to win the title from the man who beat the man. After a ten-year layoff, he still had the power to win the title and was even avoided by some, Mike Tyson for one.

In Foreman's first 25 or so fights in the 70's, he exhibited a pretty good jab. However, once he started clubbing fighters out, he just started going for the big shot from the onset. Foreman had some boxing skills, but he was allowed to abandon them because of his power. His trainer Dick Saddler fell in love with George's power, and he cut a lot of corners when teaching him basics. Saddler's attitude was, George, go run a few miles and then go pound the heavy bag. Because there ain't a man in the world who can stand up to your punch. This was something Saddler repeated often and was proud of.

In Foreman's first march to the heavyweight title, his lack of fundamentals and good basics only came into play twice where it cost him, or almost cost him, a fight. The first time was against veteran Gregorio Peralta, who extended Foreman the ten round limit on the Frazier-Ellis under card. In the fight with Peralta, Foreman's youth and strength bailed him out and was the difference in the fight, which he won via a 10 round unanimous decision. The only time Foreman's power didn't bail him out was when he lost the title to Muhammad Ali in October of 1974. And in reality, Ali didn't out box Foreman. He just allowed Foreman to beat on him and wear himself out. The Ali fight is another tribute to Foreman's strength and power and is why I don't believe boxers like Tunney and Holmes could have beat Foreman circa 1973-74.

Think about it, Ali had to take a pounding before he was able to open up and fight Foreman. It's not like Ali outfought or out boxed him from start to finish. While Foreman had his strength, Ali really couldn't fight him. Had Ali not had one of the greatest chin's in heavyweight history, or not have the capacity to absorb the best body shot of any heavyweight in history, he would've lost to Foreman. It was Ali's durability and toughness that enabled him to beat Foreman, not necessarily his speed and skill as a boxer. That's why, in my opinion, Ali was the only mover or boxer who could've defeated Foreman at his peak. As tough as Tunney and Holmes were, there is no way either of them could take it to the head and body like Ali. That's why they would not have been around in the eighth round to see Foreman tire so they could out box him. I don't think they could've held the undefeated Foreman off like Ali did until he tired and wound down?

And forget the Foreman who lost to Jimmy Young. His head was so messed up after losing to Ali that he was a completely different fighter. Against Young, Foreman was so worried and concerned about his stamina, he didn't start letting his hands go until the seventh round. By then it was too late and Foreman was beaten mentally. This would've never happened to the undefeated Foreman who harbored no self-doubt or lack of confidence. His showing versus Young was due completely to the mind game Ali played on him. Young would have never lasted three rounds with the Foreman of 1972-74.

After Foreman lost to Young he retired. His first career was from June of 1969 thru March of 1977. During that time he won the title and held it for almost two years. His record when he retired was 45-2 (42). Although he fought in one of the best eras in heavyweight history, and beat an all-time great in Frazier to win the title, Foreman didn't have a clue about boxing basics. The only thing that enabled Foreman to go through the division and become champ was his strength and power that only he was blessed with at birth. Had Foreman learned how to get his body into his punches, and not been an arm puncher, it would have been illegal to allow him to fight.

Ten years after retiring, Foreman came back at age 38. During his prime in the 70's, he fought between 217-232 pounds. The second incarnation of Foreman fought between 240-267. This older version of Foreman was much slower, but fought at a much more measured pace. He fought more relaxed and loose. That's the thing that allowed him to go rounds without being exhausted. The amazing thing was although he didn't retain all the power that he had in the 70's, he still had dynamite in both hands and scored some devastating knockouts.

Four years into his comeback, Foreman fought undisputed Heavyweight Champ Evander Holyfield, who just won the title from Mike Tyson conqueror Buster Douglas. Holyfield was at his absolute physical peak at this time. Going into the Holyfield fight, Foreman was thought to have no shot and most likely would be stopped. In the bout, Foreman was out boxed and out maneuvered losing a unanimous decision. However, the strength and power of Foreman was evident throughout the bout. During the 12 rounds Foreman shook Holyfield a few times, and forced him to fight moving away. The problem Foreman had with Holyfield was simply that he was too slow to mount a sustained offensive attack.

A little over three years after losing to Holyfield, Foreman fought the man who took Holyfield's title eight month's earlier, Michael Moorer. In a fight Foreman was clearly being outfought, he scored a devastating one-punch knockout in the 10th round to win the title at age 45. Foreman's knockout of Moorer put him in the history book's as the oldest man to win the Heavyweight title. A record that still stands.

The really amazing thing about George Foreman was that the only real weapon he had was his strength and awesome power. Although he was mentally tough and determined, along with being fearless, it was his power that carried him to the Heavyweight Championship twice. Think about it, he wasn't a good boxer, he wasn't fast, and his offense was his defense. His only true weapon was his strength and power.

Five and a half years after decisioning Foreman, Holyfield was thought to be shot. In November of 1996, Holyfield fought WBA-WBC champ Mike Tyson. Holyfield went on to stop Tyson in the 11th round. In this fight, Holyfield won no less than 8 of the 10 rounds they fought before stopping Tyson in the 11th. He out fought and muscled Tyson the entire fight. This was a 30-year old Tyson who just scored impressive knockout victories in winning both title belts only months earlier. Basically, an older Holyfield controlled and out muscled a 30-year old Tyson, something he wasn't able to do versus a 42 year old Foreman when he was in his prime.

Three years after beating Tyson, Holyfield defended both of his titles versus IBF champ Lennox Lewis twice. In their first fight, Holyfield was clearly out fought by Lewis, yet was the aggressor in the fight. In the rematch six months later, a better-prepared Holyfield lost a close decision. In this fight, Holyfield was the more effective aggressor and was able to push Lewis back the whole fight. The point is a 34 year old prime Lewis wasn't able to move an eroded Holyfield around the ring like a 42 year old Foreman did. In Holyfield's fights with Foreman and Lewis, Foreman's jab forced Holyfield to retreat, something Lewis couldn't do with his big right hand and uppercuts.

Against Tyson and Lewis, an older Holyfield was more in control physically, than a younger Holyfield was versus an older Foreman. In fact, Foreman actually had Holyfield shook a few times, something neither Tyson or Lewis were able to do once.

What other former heavyweight champ could've taken off ten years, and then comeback to win boxing’s greatest prize? When Foreman came back in the late 80's, he had one weapon, just like he had in the 70's, power and strength. Foreman wasn't a great boxer at any time in his career. In the 70's he fought in a rage that was nothing more than a charge from his stool to his opponent's chin. In the late 80's and 90's, Foreman's biggest weapon was his strength and punch. Some say he was a smarter boxer, but he really just fought at a more measured pace. Basically, he just tempered his aggression. His goal was to score a knockout regardless of what version of his career you're discussing.

In the 70's, Foreman was hurt badly only by Ron Lyle, who was a terrific puncher. And Foreman was in dreadful shape in the Lyle fight. It was his first fight in 15 months after losing to Ali, unless you count the Toronto-5 exhibition, which I don't. Ali stopped him, but it was due to Foreman's severe fatigue. Against Jimmy Young he was a head case and was beaten before his hands were even wrapped. In his comeback, he wasn't hurt or close to going down once. Not by Holyfield, who hit him with over 25 unanswered punches in the ninth round of their fight. Not by Cooney, who he devastated, or Bert Cooper who was very dangerous early in the fight. Not by Morrison, who was forced to run like Carl Lewis from him. And not by Michael Moorer, who hit him at will until Foreman dropped one short right hand on his chin.

George Foreman was a physical freak of nature. Never in heavyweight history has one fighter accomplished so much, while possessing just one weapon, strength and power. I can't imagine other big punchers like Lewis, Liston, Frazier, Louis, Tyson or Marciano taking off 10 years and then coming back at age 45 and winning the title? Remember, Tyson wanted no part of Foreman in the early 90's, which I know to be an absolute fact (although some Tyson fans try to pretend it's not). Lewis never asked for him during that time. And Holyfield who did fight him, was banged around despite winning and was holding on at the end. And Holyfield says to this day that Foreman was without a doubt the strongest and best puncher he ever fought.

When sizing Foreman up versus other big punchers in the last 70 years, many things are obvious. Louis was a far superior overall fighter. Marciano had better stamina. Liston was a better boxer and had better basics. Frazier had more stamina and was a better body puncher. Tyson had faster hands and better basics. Lewis was more versatile and a better boxer. However, Foreman's strength was in a different class. At 45 he had equal power and a better chin than all of them. And that wasn't even him at his peak. The prime of Foreman ended in The “20th of May” stadium on an October night in 1974. If George Foreman knew how to box and punch from a fundamental standpoint, it would've been illegal to allow him to fight.

George Foreman is definitely a physical freak of nature!

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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