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Articles of 2004

Acelino Freitas Did The Right Thing, The Wrong Way

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This past weekend Acelino Freitas did the unforgivable in the game of boxing. He quit. After taking his third knockdown from a hard-charging Diego Corrales, Freitas, instead of fighting on in a close contest and defending his WBO lightweight title and unblemished record, decided to call it a day.

Howls of disbelief and disgust have now come down on Freitas, and for good reason. Yes, there's no question that you don't want another ring tragedy, and it's easy for any of us sitting on our couch or behind our keyboard to say just how much bravery a fighter should have. After all, it takes a lot of stones just to go up those steps. But that is the pact that prizefighters make. They know the risks. There have been countless other boxers who have gone on in the face of insurmountable odds. Quitting, is not in their vocabulary.

But the hypocrisy comes on our end – as fans and writers – when we decry and bemoan the effects of fighters who have simply taken too much punishment throughout their careers and become poster children for why boxing should be abolished. So on one hand we are critical of guys who pull the plug the way Freitas did, but then at the same time cringe at the effects this game has on its participants.

When Freitas told referee Michael Ortega that he no longer wanted to continue in a championship fight in which he was ahead on one card, and down by only one and two on the other two, he forever tarnished his reputation.

I absolutely hate what Freitas did. In many respects he unearthed himself as a front runner who could not take what he routinely gave out. This is professional boxing at the highest level – you should expect to be in tough fights. When the going got tough, he got going – out of the fight. But you know what? I think he may have done the right thing. Yes, believe or not, he may have done what was prudent.

In watching that fight, it was clear that Freitas was spent physically. With all the running and jumping around he did early on, he had expended 15 rounds of energy in the first six. He had taken three hard knockdowns – and it has to be said in his defense, he did get up and fight after the first two – and while the scorecards were close, they were widening by the moment, with Corrales scoring three straight knockdowns.

Corrales was like the hunter who finally had his prey squarely in the cross-hairs, just before the third and final knockdown. He had juuuuust missed with some blistering right hands. It was written all over his face – Corrales knew that he had complete control of this fight. And for Freitas it didn't help that Corrales is one of the most lethal punchers in the game.

After getting sent to the canvas the third time, Freitas for the first time decided not to spit out his mouthpiece to gain more time to recover. When he got up he simply waved off the fight and walked to his corner. Sorry, if you have enough sensibility to not toss your gum shield, get up and then walk over to your corner, then you can still fight on. Again, I can't really blame Freitas though, things were only going to get worse and Corrales was coming on like gangbusters. But it's the manner in which he executed his exit that really rankles the masses.

Why not just take the ten count? Hey, no one had a problem with Alexis Arguello doing it in his rematch with Aaron Pryor, right? Hey, the guy was out-gunned and didn't want anymore. No problem, it happens. Or just fight the rest of the round and have your corner call it off in between the 10th and 11th rounds.

But the way Freitas did it, it gave the impression that a guy who could – and should – fight on, simply didn't. The way Freitas did it made him look like a quitter, not a guy that was simply beat. Fans can handle a guy who is defeated or simply doesn't have it on that day. But what fans absolutely detest are guys that quit. It's the dirty four letter word in the boxing vocabulary. And no matter how you slice it, there is no honor in that.

Also, by halting the fight the way he did, it took credit away from the strong performance of Corrales, who after getting out-maneuvered in the first half of the fight, slowly but steadily walked down Freitas, stuck to his game plan and then teed off on the Brazilian. The fight had a beautiful ebb-and-flow to it, with plenty of drama. But instead of focusing in on Corrales' strong showing, it's overshadowed by the actions of Freitas.

Ask Sugar Ray Leonard if he feels he's ever gotten the proper credit for his revenge win over Roberto Duran? All anyone ever brings up from that fight are two words: no mas.

But again, I remind you, perhaps Freitas did the right thing. It's his health and safety that's on the line. We don't walk in his shoes. And most likely he won't be regretting this decision one iota when he has all his faculties in order long after he's done boxing.

He did the right thing, the wrong way.

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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