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Articles of 2004

Pacquiao Still Haunts Ledwaba

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Lehlohonolo “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba (35-2-1- 22ko’s) is an angry man. The former IBF and WBU junior featherweight and WBU featherweight world champion takes on the WBA International featherweight champion, Spend Abazi (29-1-0 – 10 ko’s) this Friday night in Copenhagen, Denmark. While the winner has been promised an official WBA eliminator bout against former champ Derrick Gainer, Ledwaba hopes it will take him a step closer to avenging his defeat 3 years ago at the hands of Manny Pacquiao.

“I can beat Pacquiao,” insists Ledwaba, who feels he was set up for a loss against the flashy, big hitting Filipino fighter. When the two met in June 2001 for Ledwaba’s IBF crown, the South African was on top of the world having defeated a host of credible opponents in; Carlos Contrerras, Arnel Barotillo, Eduordo Enrique Alvarez, Ernesto Grey, Edison Valencia Diaz and John Michael Johnson in a space of two years. He was widely acknowledged as one of the best in the division and seemed to be improving with every bout.

Then came the Pacqiao fight. Ledwaba was scheduled to make a routine defence against Mexican Enrique Sanchez in Las Vegas. Two weeks prior to their fight Sanchez withdrew due to injury and Pacqiao, who was training in LA at the time for another bout, stepped in as a replacement. “We were training for Sanchez, who we did not regard as a threat,” says Ledwaba’s trainer Norman Hlabane. “We never knew much about Pacqiao and were not sufficiently prepared to face a man of his calibre.” The fact that bookmakers were hesitant to offer odds on the Ledwaba – Pacquiao bout illustrates the uncertainty around the Pacman at the time. “I’ve been watching his fights,” says Ledwaba, “and can see he has grown since facing me. But I feel confident that given time enough to prepare I can defeat him.”

With Pacquiao in negotiations for a rematch with WBA/IBF champ Juan Manuel Marquez, Ledwaba has at least two fights he needs to win in order to earn a shot at the winner of Marquez – Pacquiao II, the first being this Friday against Spend Abazi. “I am focusing on each fight as it comes,” says Ledwaba, “but I crave to get back in the ring with Pacquiao.” The Yugoslavian born Abazi, who now calls Norway home, has never fought a man of Ledwaba’s ability, but having said that “hands of stone” has fought only twice since his loss to Pacquiao. He decisioned former IBF junior featherweight king and now IBO featherweight world champion Vuyani Bungu (33-3) to claim the WBU featherweight title in 2002 and Choi Tseveenpurev (15 –2) in March this year.

“He’ll be fighting a hometown favourite in his own backyard,” says former 3 time world champion Dingaan Thobela. “Given that Denmark is notorious for their decisions, to be sure of a victory Ledwaba will have to knock Abazi out. It would be very difficult for him to get a points win. I’ve seen both men fight and feel that Ledwaba is in a higher league. He will be too strong for Abazi.”

Also on the Copenhagen bill Mikkel Kessler (33-0 25 ko’s), who is in negotiations to fight Danny Green for the WBC interim super middleweight world title, defends his WBC International title against former Commonwealth champion Andre Thyse (15-3-0 – 9 ko’s). Thyse lost a points decision to Markus Beyer for the WBC crown, prior to the latter losing the title to Cristian Sanavia this past weekend.

“Kessler is a clever boxer,” says Thobela, who lost on points to the Dane in an IBC super middleweight title fight two years ago. “He’s fast, very busy, and has a powerful punch. The only weakness I picked up was that he doesn’t like to get hit. Whenever I landed a hard blow he would grab me and hold on. Unfortunately I was not well enough conditioned to capitalise on that so he beat me. I can’t see Thyse negotiating Kessler for 12 rounds, the only hope that he has is that Kessler underestimates his punching power. Thyse has a voodoo punch. You can’t see the power, but he can wear an opponent down.”

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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