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Articles of 2004

Amateur/Olympic Boxing: The Root of the Problem



After watching the Olympic boxing for over a week at the 2004 Summer Games, I feel somewhat enlightened on the current state of boxing. I believe the Olympics have demonstrated why we see technically flawed fighters entering the professional ranks.

As a result of the computer scoring system used in the Olympics, the sport of boxing has become fencing. Everything is based on glove touches to the head and face. Ring generalship, defense, body punching, and power are completely ignored. For fighters to be awarded points in the Olympics, they must land a punch and have three of the five judges press the red or blue button representing them within one second. Under this current system, only punches, or should I say touches, to the head and face seem to be counted.

This is something that I've evidenced from all the coverage I've watched, and I've watched just about all that has been televised. There can be no doubt that the judges scoring the bouts are looking at one thing, the touches with the white portion of the boxing glove. I've seen fighters land several hooks and jabs to the stomach and chest and not a single point registered. I've also noticed that combinations are usually only awarded a single point. This system is so tilted towards movers and runners who just get in and get it out, that I must admit that it's becoming hard to watch, at least for me. Defense and making an opponent miss aren’t rewarded or stressed. And clean, hard effective punches count the same as a graze or a touch.

Infighting seems to be almost frowned upon. I know it's amateur boxing and there are only four rounds, which does somewhat nullify a good infighter and body attack. However, infighting should be more stressed than it is. Fundamentals are an absolute in Boxing 101, which is what the Amateurs/Olympics should be all about. Shouldn't this be the breeding ground for tomorrow’s pros? Like College Football is for the NFL or Double and Triple A is for Baseball.

I believe this is why we have so many fighters in professional boxing who are flawed fundamentally. Many of today's pros, even at the world class level, lack rudimentary boxing basics. It's rare today to see pros go to the body and fight inside. Basics such as hands held up and chin down aren't part of the structure of many of today's top pros. Double and triple jabbing is also a lost art. It's usually a jab followed by a right hand, sometimes followed by a hook—which is as basic as it gets.

Fighters today don't hook off their jab to the body or head, in order to set up their right hand and finishing punches. Head and shoulder feints are also a lost art. The fighters who use head and shoulder feints in professional boxing today can be counted on one hand. Another thing lacking is basic defense. Today, fighters either use their legs to move away from punches or their opponent just misses. Blocking and smothering punches with the gloves and arms is nonexistent. And forget about seeing a fighter stepping inside wide, looping punches and countering, because it just doesn't happen.

Maybe I'm too much of a cynic. It's just that I'd like to see fighters coming out of the amateur and Olympic ranks with a core of boxing basics. I can't help but think that because of the way the amateur scoring system is structured, it helps younger fighters form bad habits. These are the type flaws that don't show up until they move up in the pro ranks. That's why we see many of today’s top amateurs and Olympians getting upset and knocked off in the second year of their pro career, or in their 11th or 12th fight. Most of the time when this has happened, it wasn't the case of the other fighter being more skilled or better. It was just a case of him having better boxing basics.

In my opinion, the scoring system now used at the top amateur boxing tournaments throughout the world has held back and stagnated the growth of the young fighters turning pro. Basics are something that need to be embedded in a fighter’s head early and often in their career. Once they start getting by on talent or learn how to beat the system used at the amateur level, they think they've arrived and there is nothing they can be taught. By the time they are pros with 10 or 15 fights under their belt, it's almost too late for them to learn or to even accept that they have to continue to learn and expand their game.

One last note on the Olympic Boxing at the 2004 Games

I said this last week, and it's even further seared in my mind. The judges are so biased towards the Cuban fighters it's sickening. They are very good, but they get the benefit of every single close call regarding the scoring of their fights.

Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List



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




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




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 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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