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Articles of 2004

How One Fight Can Define Bernard Hopkins’ Career

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It's amazing how a fighter’s whole career and perception can hinge on the outcome of one fight. When looking at some of boxing's greatest fighters, in most cases their greatness was achieved and documented based on the outcome of one major fight. Just by a fighter winning or losing that one signature fight, it's more often than not the single thing his career is remembered for.

Some fighters are luckier than others in having more than a few outstanding/great fighters in their era to measure themselves against. Fighters like Emile Griffith and Dick Tiger come to mind. They both fought a plethora of outstanding/great fighters, beating some and losing to some. But in most cases, fighters are lucky to have more than a couple signature or defining fights in their career.

Evander Holyfield beat every top fighter of his era, but never was regarded as an all-time great until he beat Mike Tyson. Imagine if he would've lost to Tyson. His whole career would've been capsuled by that fight. Joe Frazier tore through the heavyweight division from 1967-70 during Ali's exile. However, he wasn't considered an all-time great until he defeated Ali in “The Fight of The Century.” Had Frazier lost to Ali in their first fight, he probably would be viewed as just another alphabet champ.

Even Muhammad Ali, having already defeated Liston and Frazier wasn't thought of as one of the top two or three greatest heavyweight champs of all time. It wasn't until he defeated the 40-0 (37) George Foreman to regain the heavyweight title that he became universally recognized as the greatest. Ironically, the fight that stamped Ali's greatness cost George Foreman his. Had Foreman stopped Ali in the eighth round instead of being stopped, he very possibly may have gone down as the greatest of all time. What a resume he would've had, stopping an undefeated Joe Frazier and stopping a never been stopped Muhammad Ali.

Boxing history is littered with greats and near greats whose career was defined for the better or worse by one fight. The Leonard-Hearns showdown of 1981 is another great example. Leonard won and solidified his greatness. What if Hearns had survived the 14th & 15th rounds and won the decision? History would view Hearns as the greater fighter.

This leads me to the most anticipated fight of 2004, Hopkins-De La Hoya. If there was ever a fighter whose historical ranking was riding on one fight, it's Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins has been the best middleweight in the world for the last nine years. He owns the record for consecutive middleweight title defenses with 18. The problem he has is there are only two names on his record that anyone will remember, Jones and Trinidad.

In the two biggest fights of his career versus the best opponents he ever fought, Hopkins is 1-1. He lost a unanimous decision to Roy Jones in his first bid for the middleweight title back in May of 1993, and hasn't lost since. It's been three years since Hopkins faced the only other great fighter on his record, Felix Trinidad. Hopkins dominated Trinidad from beginning to end before stopping him in the 12 round.

Oscar De La Hoya represents the highest profile fighter Hopkins has ever fought. There is no doubt that his fight tonight with De La Hoya is the biggest and most high profile fight of his career. He cannot lose to De La Hoya and hope to go down in history as a legendary middleweight champion. When he lost to Roy Jones, he didn't suffer much because Jones is regarded as the best fighter of his era. On top of that, Hopkins was still in the early stages of his career and wasn't really outclassed.

Hopkins was a 5-2 underdog versus the undefeated Felix Trinidad when he defeated him in September of 2001. However, many critics consider Hopkins victory over Trinidad somewhat watered down since it was only Trinidad's second fight at middleweight. Although his win over Trinidad was dominant, it won't matter if he loses to De La Hoya. Which is just about defies logic since it was Trinidad who handed De La Hoya his first defeat.

Since turning pro in 1992, with the possible exception of Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya has been the most talked about and comprehensively covered fighter in the world. On top of that, De La Hoya is thought to be a great fighter who has fought the best fighters of his generation. De La Hoya has also won titles in six different divisions.

The fight with De La Hoya will bring more exposure to Hopkins than he's ever had in his career, on top of providing him his biggest pay. However, the exposure and money won't mean a thing to Hopkins if he doesn't beat him. Despite holding the middleweight title longer than any other fighter in history and making the most consecutive defenses, Hopkins place in history will be determined by the outcome of his fight with De La Hoya.

Hopkins has longed to be mentioned among the greatest of the greats in middleweight history. For him to solidify his name with the likes of Ketchel, Greb, Robinson, Monzon, and Hagler, he has to beat De La Hoya. And he knows it.  During the weeks leading up to his fight with De La Hoya, Hopkins has relished in having his name mentioned in the same vein as Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler. Monzon and Hagler have been the two most dominant middleweight champions since Sugar Ray Robinson last wore the crown in the late 1950's.

I can't recall the last time a dominant Champion's place in history hinged on the outcome of one fight the way it does for Bernard Hopkins. A convincing victory over De La Hoya guarantees Hopkins name will be included among the greatest middleweight champs in history. On second thought, just beating De La Hoya will probably be enough to accomplish it.

Unfortunately for Hopkins, a loss to De La Hoya will unfairly be what his career is most remembered for. It's never a good thing when the fight a fighter is most known for is a loss. Think about that. How many fighters who are considered all-time greats lost the biggest fight of their career?

Bernard Hopkins whole career has come down to one fight. Hopkins has been the master of his own destiny his entire career. Nothing means more to him than going down as a legendary all-time great fighter. It all comes down to one fight. He must beat 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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