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Articles of 2004

For Oscar De La Hoya, Beating Hopkins Changes Everything

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As the Hopkins-De La Hoya fight approaches, everyone is trying to formulate the different scenarios as to how the fight will turn out. However, something recently occurred to me regarding Oscar De La Hoya. That is, if he somehow pulls off the upset and hands Hopkins his first defeat in over 11 years, he will be thought of and most likely go down as an all-time great fighter in the eyes of many. Whether he is worthy of that high praise or not, he will have made a pretty good case for his name to be included in such conversations. It's mind-boggling what a win over Hopkins would do for De La Hoya's career status.

Before getting into that, I want to make a few things clear about De La Hoya the fighter, as I see them prior to him fighting Hopkins. In my opinion Oscar De La Hoya is an outstanding/great fighter. However, I must admit that the word great doesn't flow freely from my lips when it comes to Oscar.

De La Hoya is tough mentally and physically, and has a big heart to go along with a very good chin. Oscar is also a very versatile fighter, capable of changing his fighting style to better match up with certain opponents. Another thing that can be said with impunity about De La Hoya is that he fought the best of his era and never avoided any fighter who was a perceived threat.

There is one period of De La Hoya's career on which my stand places me in the minority. Unlike a majority of writers and fans, I don't give De La Hoya the props others do regarding his multiple weight titles. In my opinion, he was never a legitimate Jr. Lightweight or Lightweight. De La Hoya sucked down to those weights and weighed in three days before a lot of those fights. He was at those weights for all of three seconds. Denying this is ignoring the truth. As far as I'm concerned, those titles were orchestrated from day one to manipulate De La Hoya's legacy as a multi division Champion. In those fights from 130-140, he won them on the scale and was unquestionably the bigger fighter in every one of them.

The best fighters De La Hoya faced were from 147 up. And that's where it gets tricky. Although De La Hoya has never been dominated or stopped, the only top fighter he defeated convincingly was Fernando Vargas. That being said, he did win the fight. I don't care that he struggled and was hurt during it. He won. Hopkins, Hagler, Leonard, and Hearns struggled against some of their best opponents before finally taking over and winning in a convincing fashion.

As regards the so-called signature fights of De La Hoya's career is where it becomes a matter of perception, since just about all of them came down to the wire. Against Pernell Whitaker, he won a comfortable decision on the judges’ cards. The problem is anyone who watched the fight with both eyes open knows it was very close and could've gone to either fighter by a point, (I scored it a draw 6-6 in rounds). The problem is De La Hoya didn't prove he was the better fighter, not that Whitaker did, but this is about De La Hoya. In his fight with Ike Quartey, it was close and came down to the last round. But De La Hoya didn't convince all that he merited the decision he was awarded, (I scored the fight 6-6 in rounds, but gave De La Hoya a 2-point 12th round which tilted the fight to him by a point).

In his next big fight versus Felix Trinidad, the fight created more questions than it answered. I had the fight 7-5 De La Hoya or 1115-113. I don't care what anyone says, De La Hoya was up 7-2 after 9 rounds. The 10th was very close and could've gone to either fighter. Trinidad won the last two rounds, no doubt about it, but it's not like he beat up or shook De La Hoya in them. As far as I'm concerned, there is no controversy over this fight, De La Hoya won it. The problem is Trinidad was awarded the decision and many agreed with it. Again, nothing was resolved. De La Hoya didn't prove he was the better fighter, even to me. I just think he was a little sharper that night, but wasn't swayed that if they fought again De La Hoya would win.

In his next major fight he fought former Lightweight Champ Shane Mosley and lost a split decision. I don't know how it was only a split decision. I had it 7-5 or 115-113 Mosley. It's not like Mosley took De La Hoya apart, but he was the better fighter that night and definitely earned and deserved the decision. After losing to Mosley, De La Hoya stopped an in shape and focused Fernando Vargas. As stated earlier, this is De La Hoya's most complete win versus a top fighter.

A year after Vargas, De La Hoya fought Mosley again. Just as in the other big fights of Oscar's career, nothing was resolved. Mosley won a unanimous decision over De La Hoya in a fight that was interpreted differently by those sitting ringside and those watching on T.V. This was a very close fight, that I scored 7-5 for De La Hoya. The point is, despite thinking De La Hoya out-pointed Mosley in their rematch, once again he didn't prove he was the better fighter.

After losing the rematch to Mosley, De La Hoya challenged Felix Sturm for the WBO Middleweight title. The Sturm fight was the continuation of De La Hoya struggling against the better fighters he's faced. Although De La Hoya won the fight, many feel he was awarded a gift so the Hopkins fight could be made. Against Sturm, I had De La Hoya winning by a point. In my opinion, Sturm started letting his hands go a round or two too late.

One of the many reasons De La Hoya is such a lightning rod is because in his fights against the best fighters he's fought, he's left a lot on the table to be scrutinized. Other than against Vargas, De La Hoya hasn't defeated the top fighters on his record without some controversy, like Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns did. This is why Hopkins is such a monumental fight for De La Hoya.

In Hopkins, De La Hoya can almost rewrite his career perception with a win. I haven't a doubt that if De La Hoya were to somehow beat Hopkins, his historical ranking would skyrocket. A win over Hopkins would be what De La Hoya would be most remembered for, especially if he retired and never fought again. It's almost unbelievable how off of one fight, De La Hoya could be catapulted into an all-time great, something that isn't really a thought pre-Hopkins.

Beating Hopkins, who has not lost a fight in 11 years, would give De La Hoya bragging rights beyond reproach. Think about it, Oscar gets exceptional press as it is. Imagine him moving up 6 weight classes and beating the undisputed middleweight champ, who has made a record 18 title defenses, and was considered no less than one of the three top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

Look at the upside Hopkins represents for De La Hoya. Here's a fighter, De La Hoya, who it can be said lost to Whitaker, Quartey, Trinidad, Mosley twice and Sturm without it being a stretch. Yet if he beats Hopkins, many will look back and revise history, suggesting De La Hoya really won all those close fights.

If Hopkins were to be upset by De La Hoya, everything he's accomplished during his nine year title reign would most likely be overshadowed by the loss. And De La Hoya sits at the other end of the universe. A De La Hoya upset will most likely propel him to an historical ranking he may not really deserve.

Just by beating Hopkins, De La Hoya can essentially beat Whitaker, Quartey, Trinidad, Mosley and Strum all on the same night. Defeating Hopkins will virtually wipe the slate clean for De La Hoya in the eye of many fans. They'll forget that he struggled and may have been defeated by the top fighters he fought prior to Hopkins. What they will remember and talk about is that he beat Hopkins.

What a great position De La Hoya is currently in. In one fight he is positioned to virtually alter the entire body of his career.

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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