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Articles of 2004

Man in the Middle

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While the boxing world primarily knows this past weekend’s International boxing hall of fame inductee, Stanley Christodoulou, as a referee and a judge, he has affectionately been referred to and regarded as Mr Boxing in South Africa for close on forty years. No other man wielded more power and influence in the sport in South Africa than Christodoulou over that time.

Besides building a distinguished career as a referee and judge, being one of only three men to officiate in over 100 world title fights in all 17 weight divisions, he was at the helm of the South African boxing commission up until the turn of the century. As an executive member of the World Boxing Association, he was also instrumental in a number of South African fighters receiving opportunities to fight for world titles. Amongst them was the first black South African to win a world title, Peter “Terror” Mathebula, who dethroned Tae Shik Kim in 1980 in Los Angeles to win the WBA flyweight crown, Brian Mitchell, who stopped Alfredo Layne in 1986 to win the WBA junior lightweight world title and went on to successfully defend it 12 times, and Piet Crous, who outboxed Ossie Ocassio for the WBA cruiserweight world title. Crous, incidentally, lost the title in his second defence to another International boxing hall of famer, Dwight Muhammad Quawi.

Christodoulou was first introduced into the sport in the early 1960’s by former universal bantamweight world title contender and empire champion, Willie Toweel. It was through Toweel’s encouragement that Christodoulou judged his first fight and he has never looked back since. Although he has been the man in the middle of many great world title matches and has officiated in bouts featuring the likes of Evander Hollyfield, Lennox Lewis, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Thoma Hearns, Aaron Pryor just to name a few, his first world title fight is one he will never forget.

In 1973, Christodoulou was asked to step in as a replacement referee for the bantamweight world title bout between Romeo Anaya and Arnold Taylor in Johannesburg.

“It was a tremendous honour,” says Christodoulou, “to be able to referee my first world title fight in my own country was very special and hell what a fight it turned out to be.”

Both boxers went toe-to toe for the majority of the fight. Taylor stunned Anaya in round three and dropped him for an 8 count in round 5. Following three brutal rounds in which neither fighter gave an inch, it was Taylor’s turn to visit the canvas in round eight, as Anaya caught him with his vaunted left hook. Taylor groggily returned to his feet only to be dropped again with another vicious hook. Somehow finding the strength to stand up Taylor tried to clinch, but Anaya brushed him away and moved in for the kill. Before Anaya could land, however, Taylor sunk to his knees and Christodoulou correctly ruled it a legitimate knockdown as a result of the accumulative punishment he had taken.

To the disbelief of Anaya, Taylor again rose at the count of 8 and managed to survive the rest of the round. Taylor’s trainer was about to throw in the towel, but picked up his robe by accident, the delay allowing Taylor to be saved by the bell. In round nine the tables turned again as Taylor stunned Anaya and had him in serious trouble on the ropes when the bell brought relief to the world champion. In round ten three successive hooks by Anaya had Taylor down. Again he found the strength to rise to the occasion and battle the champion back. Rounds 11 –13 saw the men continue to pummel each other and by round 14 Taylor could hardly see out of his right eye. Fuelled on by the chants of his home crowd, Taylor caught Anaya with a left hook , “I could see he stiffened up” said Taylor after the fight. “Then I put everything I had into my right to his jaw. It landed pingg! And I felt the shock of the blow running up my arm, through my body and down my legs. I jumped way up in the air and didn’t even watch him fall.”

Taylor danced around the ring shouting ,” He’s gone, he’s gone.” Christodoulou kept shouting back at him to get into the neutral corner, but Taylor was overwhelmed with excitement and convinced he had won. “Anaya was never going to get up,” says Christodoulou, “but I wanted everything done right so only took up the count once Taylor went to a neutral corner.

It was unbelievable throughout the fight both boxers’ fortunes fluctuated. They both had tremendous guts and heart to stay in there. It was sensational in every respect. I could not have asked for a better first world title fight.” The Anaya – Taylor fight is still rated as one of the best bantamweight fights of all time and given his professional handling of the bout, Christodoulou was set for what has turned out to be one of the finest refereeing careers in the history of world boxing.

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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