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Articles of 2004

Does Oscar De La Hoya See The Same Thing Ray Leonard Did?

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The career parallels of Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard are very similar. Forget the star treatment, image, and perceived cockiness. The fact is both De La Hoya and Leonard could flat-out fight. They also were tough and usually strived to fight the best of the best of their generation. Sure, they had some cup-cakes, what fighter hasn't, but a majority of their fights once they were ranked were versus the upper-tier fighters of their era.

Oscar and Ray also collected many titles and endorsements along the way. The biggest difference I see, other than the fact that I think Leonard was the better and more complete fighter, is Leonard has more signature wins. To this day I'm not sure what fight is Oscar's signature victory. Unlike Ray, who has three or four.

Another thing De La Hoya and Leonard share is that they both moved up in weight from where they won their first title and won titles in several weight divisions. This is something that they are both known for. However, the biggest bond between De La Hoya and Leonard is about four months from being realized.

Provided De La Hoya gets by his next opponent, Felix Strum, this Saturday night, he is scheduled to fight Undisputed Middleweight Champ Bernard Hopkins on September 18th. Hopkins has ruled the Middleweight division for the past eleven years, and is also unbeaten in those eleven years. On top of that, he's made a record 17 title defenses, and it should be 18 by the time he fights De La Hoya. This is assuming that Hopkins beats Robert Allen on the De La Hoya-Strum co-main event.
Sugar Ray Leonard also tangled with a great Middleweight back in April of 1987. Marvin Hagler was his name. And he was also unbeaten in 11 years and made 12 consecutive defenses of the Middleweight title that he owned for seven years. In fact, Hagler was even more feared than Hopkins is today. Hopkins is respected as much as Hagler was, but he wasn't perceived to be as unbeatable.

Like Leonard, De La Hoya will be a big underdog versus Hopkins. Hopkins is a complete fighter who can adapt to all styles in the ring. And like Hagler, he is super-tough mentally with tremendous stamina guided by an all-time great chin. On top of that, Hopkins looks at De La Hoya the way Hagler looked at Leonard. Hagler longed to fight Leonard because he was overshadowed by him during his career. Due to Leonard having more crossover appeal and star power, he made much more money and was treated as boxing's true Superstar. This is something Hagler resented, and only added more fuel to the burning desire he had to face Leonard.

The exact same things apply to Hopkins regarding De La Hoya. Like Leonard did Hagler, De La Hoya has overshadowed Hopkins since he turned pro. De La Hoya has always received the huge pay days and Rock Star treatment, just as Leonard did. Hopkins views De La Hoya as his ticket to finally getting the Millions he so deserves. Bernard gained much respect when he took Felix Trinidad apart, but the star treatment and Millions didn't follow. Like Hagler, Hopkins is a fighter to the core. Like Leonard, De La Hoya is a star and a fighter.

When Ray Leonard challenged Marvin Hagler, he was mocked and ridiculed for even thinking he could beat a legendary Champion like Hagler, especially after never fighting above 154 pounds. On top of that, Leonard had only fought once in the past five years, almost to the day. However, what many overlooked was the fact that Leonard studied Hagler and waited for the slightest signs of slippage to appear. In Hagler's last fight prior to fighting Leonard he fought John “The Beast” Mugabi. Mugabi gave Hagler one tough fight and afterward Hagler started talking retirement. It was at that point where Leonard sensed Hagler was vulnerable and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. No doubt Hagler could not walk away from a fight with Leonard, even if he knew he wasn't at his peak.

Sugar Ray Leonard was a master at breaking down the style of his opponents. The only time he really erred was in the first Duran fight where he went toe-to-toe with Roberto. However, that was more ego than anything else. Something you knew wasn't going to happen with Hagler. Leonard was just too smart and shrewd for that.
Another thing Leonard had going for him was that he had the skills to fight Hagler, and the boxing insight on how to execute his fight plan. Many fighters and observers thought the way to fight Hagler was to back him up. The problem with that was Hagler was a counter-puncher. He feasted on fighters who took the fight to him. The only fighter who went the limit with Hagler in a title fight prior to Leonard, was Roberto Duran in November of 1983. Duran pulled this off by moving away from Hagler and drawing him in. Duran knew he wasn't strong enough to pressure Hagler, so he opted for a style that he thought gave him the best chance.

During their fight, Duran found Hagler easy to reach with lead right hands and counters after Hagler committed to throwing. Leonard was ringside for this fight and saw how Duran who was shorter and slower than him, with no lateral movement made Hagler miss and beat him to the punch in many exchanges. Leonard knew if he moved to the left and forced Hagler to be the Joe Frazier in the fight, he had a good shot to decision him.

Leonard actually dictated the pace versus Hagler, forcing him to use a large portion of the rounds trying to track him down and corner him. In the meantime, Leonard was launching three and four punch flurries at Hagler, breaking up his rhythm and momentum. Another thing Leonard exposed was that Hagler didn't cut off the ring very well. He followed Leonard and never really won any of the exchanges until Ray slowed down. This cost him a very close split decision defeat.

The fight was very close and fans of both fighters thought without question that their man won. For the Record, I gave Leonard the first three rounds and gave Hagler five of the next nine for a total of 7-5 Leonard. I'm a fan of both fighters, but thought Leonard pulled it out. Although I have no problem with anyone who felt Hagler won it. It was very close either way.

The bottom line is Leonard knew how to fight Hagler, which enabled him to pull off a victory that can never be taken away from him. He just knew how to fight Hagler and knew that he had the skills to capitalize on Hagler's vulnerability of pressing the fight.
Recently I saw Oscar De La Hoya interviewed on Comcastsportsnet. He was asked what he saw in Hopkins that makes him think he can beat him. De La Hoya responded saying I definitely see something, but I'm not going to tell you or anyone else. What I can't figure out is what it is that he sees. I was one of the few who thought Leonard would decision Hagler. I know everybody says that now, but I really did and won a good piece of change getting 4-1 odds.

That being said, I think De La Hoya has a task equal to Leonard's in front of him. I just can't see how Oscar can pull this off unless Hopkins becomes an empty package in the next few months due to his advanced age of 39. From a style vantage point, I can see De La Hoya surviving versus Hopkins and going the distance. Mainly because he'll be moving away from Hopkins like Joppy did. Unlike Trinidad who took the fight to Hopkins which enabled Hopkins to set him up and break him down.

Unlike the Hagler-Leonard fight, I like the favorite Hopkins in this one. I just think he's too versatile to lose to De La Hoya. Plus he's bigger and stronger and I can't envision De La Hoya hurting Hopkins. Wonder what it is that De La Hoya sees? Whatever it is, I've certainly missed it.

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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