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Articles of 2004

U.S. Olympic Boxing: Medals And Coverage Lacking

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There used to be a time in the United States that if you wanted to see boxing's future champions and stars, you'd watch the Summer Olympics. Since 1904, American fighters have won more medals (102) in boxing than any other Nation. For the record, the U.S. has also won the most Gold (47), Silver (21), and Bronze (34).

This week the 2004 Summer Olympics start in Athens, Greece. Years ago I used to look forward to the Summer Olympics because I couldn't wait to see the boxing. It was almost a forgone conclusion that the U.S. would win its share of medals. It was also assumed that those fighters who stood out at the Games would most likely challenge for a world title after turning professional.

Today that is not the case. As an indirect result of the horrific scoring in the 1988 Games in Seoul Korea, Olympic boxing is rarely seen in prime time any longer. On top of that, the U.S. has fallen on hard times in the last three Olympics, winning only two gold medals. During the 60's, 70's, and through the mid 80's, the Olympic trials used to be aired regularly on the three major broadcast networks. It wasn't all that long ago that boxing was a prime time sport at the Olympics. Some of boxing’s best amateur stars were introduced to the world through the Olympic Trials and Games.

Over the last 50 years, U.S. Olympians have provided boxing with some of it's greatest and most popular fighters in history. Fighters like Floyd Patterson, Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Evander Holyfield. Sadly, today’s future boxing fans will not have much of a chance to watch the future greats of tomorrow, today. NBC, which is broadcasting the 2004 Summer Games, has relegated boxing to off-peak hours on their cable outlets, MSNBC and CNBC. That's a shame because some of boxing's biggest rivalries and most compelling twists of fate are a result of the Olympic Trials and Games.

One rivalry that stands out is the one between 1952 middleweight Gold medalist, Floyd Patterson and 1952 heavyweight Silver medalist,Ingemar Johansson. Johansson won the Silver when he was DQ'd versus American Ed Sanders in the second round during the heavyweight final. However, from 1959-61, Patterson and Johansson traded the heavyweight title back and forth in three historic fights. Patterson became the first fighter to win the heavyweight title twice when he knocked out Johansson in their 1960 rematch.

In the 1960 Olympic Trials, future Light Heavyweight Champion, Bob Foster was denied a spot on the U.S. Olympic team by future Heavyweight Champ, Cassius Clay. Clay was slotted in at light heavyweight, while Foster was asked to drop down to middleweight. Foster declined to drop in weight and turned pro. Foster and Clay both went on to become all time great fighters, and actually fought as pros. In 1972, Clay who had changed his name to Muhammad Ali, stopped Foster in 8 rounds. Buster Mathis was the U.S. heavyweight representative for the 1964 Games, based on his two decision victories over Joe Frazier. Shortly before the Games, Mathis broke his hand and Frazier went as the alternate. Frazier went on to win the Gold medal, despite fighting with a broken thumb in the final. Frazier and Mathis met in 1968 as pros. Frazier stopped Mathis in the 11th round to retain his heavyweight title. Frazier was the only Gold medal winner at the 1964 Games, and went onto become an all time great heavyweight champion.

One of the most memorable Olympic bouts in history came at the 1968 Games. In the heavyweight Gold medal bout, 19 year old George Foreman stopped 29 year old Ionas Chapouls of Russia. At the time of Foreman's Olympic triumph, he'd only been boxing as an Amateur less than two years. Five years after winning the Gold medal, Foreman won the World Heavyweight title from 1964 Gold medalist, Joe Frazier. Foreman became the oldest heavyweight champ in history when he won the title in 1994 at age 45 for the second time.

I wonder how many fans realize how close the World came to seeing a Teofilo Stevenson-Larry Holmes Olympic bout. In the heavyweight final of the 1972 Olympic Trials, Duane Bobick stopped Holmes and earned the right to represent the U.S. at the Games in Munich. Bobick entered the Games as a strong favorite for a medal. Bobick's Olympic dream was shattered when he was stopped by Cuba's Teofilo Stevenson in the second round. Ironically, Bobick defeated Stevenson a year earlier at the 1971 Pan Am Games. Stevenson went onto win three Olympic Gold medals in 1972, 1976, and 1980. Larry Holmes would go onto become one of heavyweight history’s all time greats. Duane Bobick turned pro after the Games, but never challenged for the Heavyweight title.

Maybe the most celebrated team in Olympic history is the 1976 U.S. team that captured 7 medals, 5 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze. The most infamous story surrounding that team is how 132 pound Gold medalist Howard Davis, who also won the Val Baker trophy given to the outstanding Boxer of the Games, never won a world title as a pro. One story that didn't make the press was how Light Heavyweight Gold medalist, Leon Spinks had to be locked in his room so he couldn't eat in order for him to make weight. Speaking of Spinks, his younger brother Michael captured a Gold medal as a middleweight. And the darling of the team, Sugar Ray Leonard, fought with his girlfriend’s picture taped to his boxing shoe. The 1976 team produced two all time greats in Michael Spinks and Sugar Ray Leonard.

Under President Carter the United States boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow for political reasons. In 1984 the city of Los Angeles hosted the Games and they were boycotted by many of the Eastern block countries who participated at the Moscow Games. I remember watching Evander Holyfield upset the top fighter at 178, Ricky Womack, in the 1984 trials a month before the Games. Womack was highly thought of by many, and a favorite for the Gold. Holyfield upset him on Friday night, and then because he was a lower seed, had to beat him again Saturday afternoon to make the team, which he did even more convincingly. In the heavyweight final at the trials, Henry Tillman defeated Mike Tyson twice to make the team and capture a Gold medal. In 1991, Tillman faced Tyson as a pro and was knocked out in the first round.

The 1984 U.S. team enjoyed outstanding success at the Games, although somewhat tainted since the World's best didn't compete. They won 11 medals, 9 Gold, 1 Silver, and 1 Bronze. The ironic thing about that team is that one of its best fighters, Evander Holyfield, was the fighter who captured the Bronze. Holyfield was DQ'd for hitting New Zealand's Kevin Barry on the break, knocking him out. The 1984 team also produced two all time greats in Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield. The last U.S. Olympic boxing team to win multiple Gold medals was the 1988 team. The 1988 squad won 8 medals — 3 Gold, 3 Silver, and 2 Bronze. This team is most remembered for junior middleweight Roy Jones losing a 3-2 decision to his Korean opponent in what was probably the worst decision in Olympic history. The decision cost Jones the Gold medal. Instead, Jones had to settle for the Silver, until years later when the Olympic committee presented him with the Gold when it was uncovered that the Korean judge who scored his bout took a monetary payoff. The Super Heavyweight final of the 1988 Games featured two future heavyweight champions. Lennox Lewis of Canada stopped Riddick Bowe in the second round to capture the Gold while Bowe took home the Silver. The 1988 team produced one all time great in Roy Jones.

Since 1988, the U.S boxing team has won only two Gold medals in the last three Olympics, Oscar De La Hoya in 1992 and David Reid in 1996. The 1992 team only won 3 total medals and the 1996 team won 6. The last team the U.S. sent to the Olympics in 2000 hit an all time low, being shut out of a Gold medal for the first time in 52 years. However, they did win 4 medals overall.

As we head into the 2004 Athens Games, the U.S. has a shot at possibly four medals. The fighters to watch are light heavyweight Andre Ward, middleweight Andre Dirrell, super heavyweight Jason Estrada, and lightweight Vincente Escobedo. There are now 11 weight classes since the light middleweight class was dropped, and the U.S. only qualified in 9 of them. After winning 42 Gold medals from 1908 through 1984, U.S. Boxers have only won 5 Gold medals since 1984, six if you count Roy Jones. We'll soon know if David Reid will remain the last U.S. Olympian to bring home the Gold.

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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