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Articles of 2004

Boxing Returns, But Are These Title Fights?

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The game of boxing is back this Saturday night, after its late summer hiatus, with a doubleheader from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas that features WBO heavyweight titlist Lamon Brewster against Kali 'Checkmate' Meehan, and undisputed welterweight king Cory Spinks facing Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Notice I didn't call this a 'championship doubleheader' or anything like that. Not that I have anything against either Brewster or Spinks, who have worked hard for their hardware. But let's be honest, yes, belts are on the line, but these are hardly championship caliber fights.

Brewster is facing a professional rugby player who was born in New Zealand in Meehan, who cuts an imposing figure at 6'5″, 230 pounds. He seems like a nice guy and Brewster, who had him in camp prior to his upset win over Wladimir Klitschko in April, has nothing but nice things to say about him.

I'm sure he'll try his best and give a spirited effort in there, but it's hard to ignore his pedigree coming into this bout. While his record looks good on the surface at 29-1, he's fought a collection of second and third tier fighters in Australia. Names like Don Ulberg, James Grima, Peter Okhello, Tone Fiso, Emilio Leti and Bob Mirovic dot his resume.

Oh, and about that '1' on his record? That would be none other than Danny Williams—y'know , the guy that just stopped Mike Tyson a few weeks back—who knocked out Meehan in a mere 32 seconds.

Most objective rankings don't place Meehan in their top 30 and some have speculated (and perhaps rightly so) that what Meehan really did to deserve this title shot is to sign with Don King.

Maybe there could be an upset here, after all, Brewster is still the same guy that has losses to Clifford Etienne and Charles Shufford. But then it begs this question, is Meehan in that class of those prizefighters?

We'll see, but I'm betting he gets checkmated.

The other half of this twin bill is filled out by Spinks' defense of his welterweight championship against Gonzalez. Now this is an intriguing fight—in 1997.

Now, never mind that Spinks made his pro debut that year and was 19 years old, but that's about the last year that Gonzalez was really a threat at the world class level. It says here that a fight in 1997 between the two could very well have been more competitive than what we'll see this weekend.

There was a time when Gonzalez was a very respected fighter on the world class scene. He was a long standing WBC lightweight champion in the early-to-mid 90's who challenged Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC jr. welterweight title in January of 1997. After nearly getting his head knocked off his neck by the piston-like jab of De La Hoya, he would come on strong in the late rounds in losing a hard-fought decision to 'the Golden Boy.'

It would be the last we'd see of the Gonzalez that could compete at the highest level. In March of 1998 he would struggle to salvage a draw against a badly faded Julio Cesar Chavez. Then in August of 1999 he would be systematically taken apart by Kostya Tszyu in ten lopsided rounds. Two bouts later he would be out-hustled by Manuel Gomez, who at that time was nothing more than a tough Mexican journeyman.

But what's really eye-opening is what happened after his loss to Gomez—who to Gonzalez's credit has become a world class 147-pounder. After taking more than a year off, he embarked on a comeback tour where he wasn't exactly facing 'Murderers Row.'

First he would face Roberto Lopez, who according to boxrec.com, had a mark of 0-0. Predictably, Gonzalez would stop him in three rounds. Then he would face Christian Solano, who at least has pro experience with a record of 1-2-1, who he stopped in five. Then Gregorio Balcazar was next with a ledger of 7-3, who didn't get out of the first round. Then came Noberto Sandoval, who was 7-11 (which was his record, not the convenience store), who was halted in three and in his latest bout Gonzalez faced the 11-4 Ernesto Carmona who lasted ten stanzas before succumbing.

Perhaps this is King's way of rewarding Spinks who has defeated Ricardo Mayorga and Zab Judah in his last two bouts. But here's the problem, Spinks and his slick style aren't compelling when he's facing live opposition, you can only imagine what type of snooze-fest this could turn into when facing the slow-as-molasses Gonzalez.

Spinks is a guy, like any other prizefighter, who wants to have his profile elevated and become a consistent big money fighter, who is always involved in lucrative bouts. This fight against Gonzalez, simply doesn't achieve that goal.

So there you have it, Brewster-Meehan and Spinks-Gonzalez, which takes place on Labor Day weekend. And it could wind up being hard work for boxing fans that have to watch this.

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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