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Articles of 2004

Oscar De La Hoya Has It

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In Hollywood, it's called the “IT” factor. He has it, she has it. The question is, what is “IT?” The closest I can come to defining it, is that it's star power and appeal that crosses all boundaries and cultures. It's something that those who have it are born with, and it can't be learned. Mel Gibson has it, as does Julia Roberts, despite neither one of them being the best looking man or woman in Hollywood.

In boxing, the “IT” factor is huge. Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson all had “IT,” as did Sugar Ray Robinson and Leonard, along with Oscar De La Hoya. The persona of Muhammad Ali literally smothered Joe Frazier and George Foreman during the early to mid-seventies. In all actuality, Ali-Bugner would've outdrawn Frazier-Foreman had they been on the same night. Why? Because Ali had “IT.” No doubt Frazier-Foreman is the much better fight, but Ali had that appeal which crossed over to more than boxing/sports fans. Everyone just wanted to see him.

Just as Ali overshadowed two greats in Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Mike Tyson did the same to Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. Holyfield and Lewis are definitely regarded as greater fighters than Tyson in the eyes of history, not forgetting they both beat him convincingly when they fought. However, Holyfield and Lewis did not captivate the public like Tyson did. Holyfield and Lewis needed to be matched with another great fighter to captivate the public's interest. As opposed to Tyson, who at one time could fight anyone with a heart beat and it would draw.

Today, Oscar De La Hoya is the fighter who most has “IT.” Like the before mentioned, De La Hoya could fight the likes of Oba Carr, Patrick Charpentier, or Yory “Boy” Campas, and it's an event. Simply because of Oscar De La Hoya. As of this writing, De La Hoya is two days away from the biggest fight of his career. His opponent is undisputed Middleweight Champion, Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins hasn't lost a fight since 1993, and that was a decision to Roy Jones, who is thought by many to be the best fighter of his era. On top of that, Hopkins has held the middleweight title since 1995. Match those credentials with the name Oscar De La Hoya, and you have what will most likely be the biggest grossing non-heavyweight fight in boxing history.

Here's all the proof anyone needs to convince them how big this fight is. The women in my office know about it and are talking about it. I've had many of them come up to me in the last 10 days and say, “Frank, do you think De La Hoya will win his fight next week?” Or, “Frank, how good is this guy De La Hoya is fighting?”  The guy they're talking about is unbeaten in 11 years, and they don't know his name. Yet they know the name De La Hoya, and that he has a big fight coming up. I've even heard of bets being made between men and women on the fight in the office. Obviously the women took De La Hoya and the men took Hopkins. Not a single person in my office said a word to me about Lewis-Klitschko or either Jones-Tarver fights before or after those fights took place.

In the last year, De La Hoya has fought twice. In his last fight he won a 12 round unanimous decision over Felix Sturm to capture the WBO Middleweight title. Against Sturm, De La Hoya appeared to be in poor condition and looked lethargic and sloppy. Not to mention that many thought he actually lost to Sturm, and it was his name and proposed fight with Hopkins that influenced the judges more than his performance in the ring.

Prior to fighting Sturm, De La Hoya lost his WBA/WBC Junior Middleweight titles to Shane Mosley. In the fight with Mosley, De La Hoya started very fast, but started to slow mid way through. Mosley came on in the later rounds of the fight and even shook De La Hoya a few times. Mosley won a unanimous decision, that at least half the boxing public disagreed with. The fight was very close, regardless of who you thought won. What is not in question is the fact that Mosley hit De La Hoya harder than he was hit by De La Hoya. And De La Hoya was hurt by Mosley more than once during the fight. Something he never did to Mosley.

Heading into the Hopkins fight, it can be said De La Hoya is 0-2 in his last two fights, as easily as it can be said he is 2-0. What can be said with impunity, is in the last 24 rounds De La Hoya has fought, he was hurt and shook by both Mosley and Sturm. And in those same 24 rounds, he never hurt either of them once.

As the countdown to Hopkins-De La Hoya winds down, there is a growing sentiment towards De La Hoya. It's picking up momentum like a snowball rolling down hill. In fact, it's so overwhelming that you have to pick Hopkins if you're trying to pick an upset. I remember less than a year ago, many were saying De La Hoya would never agree to fight Hopkins. The underlying thought being he knew he probably couldn't beat him.

Only a fighter that has “IT” could sway the public the way De La Hoya has. In the last year he's had life and death with two fighters who would be overwhelming underdogs against Hopkins. But because of De La Hoya's magnetism and appeal, many boxing observers have convinced themselves that the Boxing God's will pull him through in the hopes of keeping the Boxing Universe in balance. Oscar De La Hoya definitely has “IT.”

Incidentally, the fight Hopkins-De La Hoya is most often compared to is the Hagler-Leonard title fight of 1987. De La Hoya in the role of Leonard and Hopkins in the role of Hagler. In that fight, Sugar Ray Leonard shocked the boxing world and decisioned Hagler as a 4-1 underdog. Just for the record, Sugar Ray Leonard had “IT” too.

In my opinion, Leonard had even more of “IT” than De La Hoya.

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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