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Articles of 2004

The Fight of the Century

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On March 17, 1897, in Carson City, Nevada, Bob Fitzsimmons kayoed James J. Corbett in the 14th round to win the heavyweight championship of the world. As a heavyweight fight between two of the greatest, most prestigious prize fighters of all time, the fight was considered the most renowned boxing match of the century. No one will ever forget Fitzsimmons’ win over Corbett that day in Carson City. It was a true ring classic. Not only was it a classic by boxing standards, at the time it exceeded all expectations for a financial endeavor of any kind.

In “The fight of the century” Fitzsimmons earned a purse of $15,000, took Corbett’s stake money of $10,000 and pocketed $13,000 from the Edison Picture Company, which filmed the fight. The total expenditure in the United States resulting from “The fight of the century” was—for 1897—the staggering amount of $2,700,000. Of that, $1,300,000 was paid to telegraph companies for ticker and special wire service and for newspaper and private dispatches. Betting on the bout was equally colossal. One bookmaker from San Francisco had to employ four Pinkerton detectives to guard two bags of gold worth $150,000, which he had to pay out the day after the fight.

 The two prize fighters were the main reason it became “The fight of the century.” 
Born in Helston, England, at a young age Bob Fitzsimmons and his family moved 12,000 miles to a small town by the name of Timaru on the South Island of New Zealand. While growing up, Fitz worked in his brother Jarrett’s blacksmith shop, developing the strength he used to become one of the top pound for pound hardest punchers in boxing. Fitzsimmons stood slightly shorter than six feet tall and usually weighed between 150 and 176 pounds. While his stature was considered a handicap for a heavyweight, according to some in the boxing media, with his limitless courage and powers of endurance Fitzsimmons overcame any physical limitations. The man himself was once quoted as saying, “I did pretty well for a boxer who was only a middleweight.”

Fitzsimmons had a 71 ¾ inch reach, but made little use of this abnormal reach. In fact, his most devastating punch did not travel more than a foot. It was a six-inch punch that he used to knockout his toughest opponents, including Corbett. To Fitzsimmons’ generation, winning titles at such an early age as he did was unheard of. People talked of him as some kind of boxing freak—a big shouldered, bald-headed, thin legged fighting machine. Fitzsimmons was the first triple title holder in boxing history. He won the world middleweight, heavyweight, and light heavyweight championships over a 27 year career. Fitzsimmons was also a self-trained fighter.

Jim Corbett, born in San Francisco September 1, 1866, was considered a new breed of boxer, different from the stereotypical brawler style of fighter. Known as Gentleman Jim, he was brought up in a middle class family, learning to box under the professional direction of Walter Watson at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Starting as a middleweight, Corbett fought a well-instructed amateur career at the club. He fought and beat a few pro boxers at that weight class before being moved into the heavyweight division. Before turning pro Corbett won his golden gloves along with several silver cup trophies as an amateur. Jim eventually became a boxing instructor at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

 When Jim Corbett turned pro at the age of 18 in 1884, he started his boxing career with a sound amateur foundation. Corbett’s professional career took off five years later in 1889 when he took on the hard punching Joe Choynski for a three fight series. The first fight was broken up by the police after just four rounds and went on the record books as a no-contest.

Six days later the fight resumed. This time the two men fought the fight on the deck of a barge in San Francisco Bay. Corbett wore two ounce gloves while Choynski wore skin tight driving gloves. In the third round Corbett broke his left hand with a punch to Choynski’s head. Finally, in the 27th round, Corbett used that same left hand to score a knockout over Choynski with a left hook. Jim Corbett went on to win the third and final fight with Choynski, but had his sights set on winning the heavyweight title from John L. Sullivan, who was the current heavyweight champion of the world. On September 7 Th, 1892, in New Orleans, Corbett beat the famous John L. Sullivan in 21 rounds. Jim Corbett knocked Sullivan out at 1:30 of the 21st round to win the heavyweight title.

At that time, Fitzsimmons had only been in the United States approximately two and a half years. Before coming to the U.S. he fought as a pro for seven years in Australia, leaving Australia as the middleweight champion. Fitzsimmons arrived in San Francisco in the spring of 1890. By January of 1891 he had fought and beat “Nonpareil” Jack Dempsey, knocking him out in the 13th round. Bob Fitzsimmons won the World’s middleweight championship. He defended the middleweight title just once before setting his sites on the heavyweight title held by Jim Corbett.

By March of 1897 Jim Corbett was in his fifth year as the heavyweight champion of the world. At this time in Fitzsimmons career he had been in this country seven years, having fought many fights with men that outweighed him by as much as 30 pounds. On September 5th of 1893 Fitzsimmons fought seven bouts in one evening in Chicago. He won all seven by KO, the longest two fights going 5 rounds.

When the two finally did meet in “The fight of the century,” Fitzsimmons was 34 years old to Corbett’s 30 years of age. Outweighed by sixteen pounds, Fitzsimmons took a brutal beating throughout the first thirteen rounds of the fight. In the 14th round Fitz landed a punch to Corbett’s solar plexus that some newsmen later called, “The shout heard round the world.” It was one of Fitzsimmons’ six inch short, sharp, damaging punches that dropped Corbett, who let out a horrifying gasp said to be heard throughout the entire crowd.

Fitzsimmons held the heavyweight title until he met Jim Jeffries at Coney Island in 1899. At 167 pounds Fitz underrated the 206 pound Jefferies. Jim Jefferies won the heavyweight title with an 11th round knockout.

In 1900 Corbett challenged Jefferies for the heavyweight title. “Gentleman Jim” was kayoed by Jefferies in the 23rd round. A 1903 rematch was even less of a challenge for the bigger, stronger Jefferies, who stopped Corbett in 10.

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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