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Articles of 2004

Heavyweight Greats Who would've defeated Lennox Lewis

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When it comes to ranking fighters in the all-time pantheon of boxing, it usually breaks down into two categories. One is career accomplishments and longevity, and the other is head-to-head confrontation. Over the years I've had this debate with many friends, fans, and Boxing/Sports writers. I would say that a majority of the time most favor longevity and accomplishment over who would've actually won in an actual head-to-head confrontation. That is probably the fairest way to rank fighters, but I think debating who would beat who is the more fun and compelling discussion. And at the very least, everyone has a strong opinion on whatever side they come down on.

In this column, I'll match former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis versus six past heavyweight greats (From Joe Louis to present) who I think would've defeated him if they faced each other on their best nights. Some of the fighters I pick to beat Lewis didn't have quite as accomplished a career as he did, but this is based on head-to-head, who I think would've won prime vs. prime. I won't get bogged down in arguing this guy beat that guy, and that guy lost to so and so. It's not objective or fair to take fighter A from his best fight, and compare him to fighter B in his worst fight to make your case. The only time I'll bring up a certain fighter that one or the other faced is to make a style correlation.

When I rate heavyweights, I go from Joe Louis on. Personally, I don't feel comfortable rating fighters pre Joe Louis. I consider Louis the beginning of the modern era. There are plenty of films and tapes of the pre-Louis heavyweights, but I don't feel comfortable forming an opinion based off of those grainy and choppy films that are missing several frames. For all I know James Jeffries could've beaten Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, and Lennox Lewis all on the same night, one after the other. Or, Jeffries may have lost to Michael Dokes and Tim Witherspoon. I just don't feel justified ranking fighters from 100 years ago that I never saw for more than a five minute highlight clip. Some have no problem going off of those old films and forming strong opinions, I do. Starting around the Louis era the film and audio quality improved tremendously. There is plenty of good film available on the fighters from Louis forward, and I feel that it's more than adequate to get a good feel for them regarding their overall ability and greatness.

Below, I've matched recently retired heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis with six past great champions from 1937 on, based on who I would pick to beat him. In this hypothetical, I'm matching them based off of their perceived prime and best showing. Remember, I'm not as blown away by the size of Lewis, or today's heavyweights as much as some are. On top of that, Lewis fought like a smaller man when he faced a tough fighter, or a big puncher a majority of the time. I think Lewis' size may actually work against him versus some of heavyweight histories past greats. The fighters below are the past champs who I think would've defeated Lewis if both were at their best in chronological order.

Joe Louis 1937-41 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

In a Louis vs. Lewis clash, I see Lennox's jab keeping Joe at bay for a short time. However, Joe is too fast and sharp of a puncher not to get inside and hit Lennox on the chin. Once Joe was on the inside, he'd work Lennox's body with crisp left-hooks. Once Joe is in close, it's just a matter of time. Lennox is such a huge target, I can't see him eluding the Louis assault. No way he stands up to Joe's power. Maybe early on Lewis might catch Joe, but I doubt he'd fight aggressively facing a fighter with the two handed power and speed of Joe Louis. In a Louis-Lewis match up, I think Lennox's size advantage would actually work against him. Looking over the career of Joe Louis, you'll find that he fought the best against the bigger opponents he faced, and literally dismantled them. Louis fought three men on five different occasions who were over 6'4″ and weighed over 240 pounds and knocked them all out. No doubt Lennox Lewis was better than those big heavies that Louis fought, but the point is Joe Louis feasted on the big boys. I think Joe beats Lennox to the punch and freezes him in his tracks, and then goes in and finishes him.

Louis stops Lewis

Sonny Liston 1958-62 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

This is a very intriguing match up. Liston had the jab, reach, and power to more than offset Lewis. These two fighters are close in power and speed, but Liston had the better jab and hook. Lewis had the better straight right and their uppercuts are probably a wash. Liston was the better and more aggressive boxer. Sonny would've pushed the fight with his jab making Lewis back up. Again, I see Lewis being cautious versus Liston like he was with Tua. Only Liston had more weapons than Tua and was more dangerous. Liston also had a much better chin than Lewis, and was only counted out vs Leotis Martin, (He wasn't knocked out vs Ali in 1965, he was on his feet when the fight was halted) when he was probably 40 years old. Liston stood up to the bombs of Cleveland Williams twice when both were in their prime, and never flinched. I'm more confident that Liston could have stood up to Lewis' best than I am Lewis holding up under Liston's best.

Liston stops Lewis

Muhammad Ali 1964-67, 1970-75 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

In an Ali-Lewis hypothetical fight, I don't see Lennox presenting many problems for Ali. Lewis was too big, too cautious and slow to bother Ali. Plus, Lennox is a huge target for Ali's accurate combinations. Ali could pick his spots to go in and out, or stop and plant when he wanted. Ali would take Lewis to school and give him a complete boxing lesson. He was just too fast and good of a mover and boxer for Lewis. Another advantage Ali had was better stamina, and the ability to fight at a brisk pace from bell-to-bell when he was in top shape and focused. Ali was more vulnerable to smaller quick fighters like Jones, Young, and Ellis. How would Lewis win? He can't out box Ali, and he didn't punch good enough to get him out with one shot. Lewis' bread & butter punch was his right hand, Ali was vulnerable to the left-hook. He was never dropped by a right hand. Only Shavers really rocked Ali with big rights, and that was in late 1977 when he was almost 36 and shot. Lewis' only shot is to catch Ali with a big straight right hand at center ring and KO him, not a likely scenario. I can't see Lennox's right hand being any more dangerous to Ali than the hook of Liston and Frazier or any power punch in Foreman's arsenal. Even an old slow Ali ate plenty of rights from Shavers and didn't go down. I just don't see Lewis ever stopping Ali, which is the only way he could've won. Considering the fact that Ali had one of the greatest chin's in heavyweight history, it's virtually impossible for me to envision Lewis ever knocking him out. Lewis just doesn't have enough in his overall arsenal to beat a peak and focused Ali. Ali had it all over Lewis both mentally and physically.

Ali wins a one sided unanimous decision or stops a tired and beaten Lewis late in the fight.

George Foreman 1972-74 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

This fight has been discussed a lot recently. In a Foreman-Lewis fight, I see Foreman stopping Lewis. Lewis may be the better boxer, but versus Foreman it would never be a factor. It's even debatable that Lewis had the edge in hand speed over a 1970's Foreman. Foreman would've charged out of his corner and taken the fight right to Lewis. Lennox would be forced to fight, which would lead to his downfall. He doesn't have the punch or chin to hang with Foreman. Lennox could no way trade with Foreman, and he wasn't a good enough boxer to stay away from him. Lewis isn't even the bigger man. Lewis in his prime was in the 230's to mid 240's. Foreman was between 217 and 232 in the 1970's. He weighed 217 for Frazier and 232 for Lyle. Do you really think Foreman is the smaller man when he's only spotting 10-15 pounds to Lewis? I don't. Foreman is only two inches shorter, but he is the overall bigger and stronger man. He also had the superior chin. Foreman was the better puncher with either hand, and there is no doubt about who was tougher. Foreman was super tough mentally, something that is often overlooked by many. I just don't believe Lewis had anything to deter Foreman with. Lewis' only shot would be to get Foreman deep into the fight and tire him out. However, Lewis doesn't have the chin or the toughness to hold Foreman off to be around late in the fight. And don't buy that smoke that Foreman blows that Lewis is the greatest ever. Foreman is a huckster and a salesman who is just selling you his humble image. I know many who know Foreman personally, and I have been told by them that no way Foreman thinks Lewis is the greatest. In fact Foreman always says that Joe Louis is the greatest heavyweight champ ever. Joe Frazier is the greatest heavyweight champ under 6 feet tall, and Muhammad Ali is the greatest man to ever box.

Foreman goes through Lewis and stops him.

Larry Holmes 1978-82 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

This is another intriguing match up. Again, I don't know how Lewis wins. Holmes was the faster and better boxer with a much better chin and stamina. No way Lewis could match or offset Holmes' jab. Holmes also had better legs. This is another fight in which Lewis' size would work against him. He's just too big for Holmes to miss. Like Ali, Holmes could pick his spots in the fight. Only Holmes would be more prone to trade with Lewis at center ring because he has the right hand power to get Lewis out. Holmes, like Ali may not have been a one punch banger, but their accuracy would enable them to hit Lewis more than he's ever been hit consecutively. I just don't think Lewis' chin holds up under a continued assault of sharp pin-point punches by Holmes. And lastly, Holmes has the chin and the heart to shake off a big Lewis right hand. On the other hand, once Holmes had Lewis in trouble, he'd get him out.

Holmes stops Lewis in the later rounds.

Evander Holyfield 1990-93 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

I know this will not go over well with some, but I just think the best Holyfield beats the best Lewis. Unlike most hypothetical fights, we did see Holyfield-Lewis twice. However, can anyone in their right mind say that Lewis fought the same Holyfield who fought Douglas, Foreman, Holmes, and Bowe twice. I don't think so. In their first fight, a poorly prepared and smug Holyfield showed up and was completely out thought and out fought. In the rematch a better prepared Holyfield lost 7-5 in rounds and 115-113 on points on my card. In this fight, both fighters were equally ready. Yet Lewis fought defensive and Holyfield pushed him around the ring. The only thing a less than prime Holyfield couldn't cope with was Lewis' reach. However, a Holyfield who is capable of fighting the whole round every round would overwhelm Lewis with a high volume of punches. It's impossible for Holyfield to win a decision when he is only capable of getting off in spurts, which was the case in 1999. In the two fights they had, Holyfield was never hurt or shook once. He only lost a close decision in the second fight when he was clearly past his peak. Since Lewis can't knock Holyfield out, I can't help but think that a Holyfield age 30 or younger could out work him and win a decision. In my opinion, Holyfield lost to Lewis in 1999 more because of what his own limitations kept him from doing, than what Lewis did. Lewis couldn't control a severely eroded version of Holyfield. Knowing that to be a fact, I don't think it's a reach suggesting that he loses to a peak Holyfield.

The best Holyfield decisions the best Lewis.

Below are two fighters who I would pick to beat Lewis if they fought each other at their absolute peak. However, I do not do it with the same conviction and impunity as I do with the above. The above listed fighters I would pick to defeat Lewis every time without reservation. Another words, If I had to, I'd bet everything I own that those former champs would beat Lewis in an actual confrontation. That is not the case with the fighters listed below. Although I would favor them to beat Lewis, I can easily envision a scenario where Lewis defeats them. In fact, in the below match ups, Lewis' size and reach give him the advantage from a style stand point.

Rocky Marciano 1952-55 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

I'll admit right at the start that Lewis has a huge advantage over Marciano from a style vantage point. Marciano never fought anyone like Lewis, but on the other hand, Lewis never fought a fighter as tough and determined as Marciano. The closest fighters Lewis ever fought to Marciano are Tua and Tyson. I think Marciano is better than both of them. To those who dispute that, your main argument is size and weight. What sways me is the fact that Tua lasted all 12 rounds with Lewis, and that was without having a clue on how to get inside and cut off the ring. Tyson took a beating after the first round with Lewis, and was happy doing so. I don't see Marciano following Lewis around the ring in a trance like Tua and just looking for one shot. I also don't see Marciano submitting to Lewis like Tyson did after one tough round. Marciano was better than Tua, and tougher than Tyson. Seeing Lewis being KO'd by McCall and Rahman with one punch, leads me to have no doubt that Marciano can knock Lewis out if he catches him. One thing is for sure, Marciano would never stop trying to get inside on Lewis. Lewis gets the nod over Marciano mainly based on size by most. The fact is Marciano was a better puncher with either hand than either McCall or Rahman, who both knocked Lewis dead. Denying this is plain and simple short sighted, and more of just focusing and being influenced by the size of today's heavyweights.

I would take Marciano over Lewis, but I wouldn't bet my life on it.

Joe Frazier 1969-71 vs. Lennox Lewis 1997-2002

Frazier versus Lewis has some similarities to Marciano versus Lewis. Only Frazier had faster hands than Rocky and cut the ring off better. Frazier also faced a better jab than Lewis had in all three fights with Ali. Lewis' jab may have been harder than Ali's, but it was no where near as fast or accurate, and he didn't throw as many. Frazier made Ali miss with plenty of jabs in all three of their fights. Just ask Ali and Angelo Dundee, they have both admitted so often in public. Ali has been quoted as saying that Frazier was much tougher to hit than people think. Frazier was also great at cutting the distance and getting inside. He would've been vulnerable to getting caught coming in with Lewis' right hand, a punch Joe was vulnerable to early in a fight. However, if Frazier can get through the first couple of rounds with Lewis, which I think he could've. I see him knocking Lewis out after beating on his body and then coming up top with the hook to the head. Frazier would get inside better than Tua and do damage, and he wouldn't fold after one tough round like Tyson. Frazier also has plenty of power in his hook to put Lewis to sleep for the count of 10.

I like Frazier over Lewis, but I can definitely see a scenario where Lewis wins. If Frazier is around after the second round, it's all down hill for Lewis.

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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