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Articles of 2004

Hare v Barnes: A boxing treat, fingers crossed

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Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.
Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004)

British boxing fans are only too accustomed to eking out the gems from the rocks in the modern boxing calendar. So the BBBofC decision to pit world-class Welterweight contender James Hare against blossoming champion David Barnes sparkled like the rarity it is.

The much-maligned fan forums hummed and crackled with anticipation, a genuine contest between two capable and hungry fighters. Sceptics scoffed, ‘too good to be true,’ ‘it’ll never happen!’

But, despite confusion and delays, on November 12th the battle for domestic supremacy in an increasingly talent-laden division will take place and oft-disappointed fans will bask in a rare victory over their sceptical counterparts. And more importantly, British boxing will have a proper fight to enjoy.

So why all the confusion, and wasn’t the fight scheduled for October 1st?

I spoke to James Hare, an affable and friendly fighter who, typically, was more interested in the fight than the negotiations surrounding it. I asked James about the confusion over whether the fight was ever signed to appear on the Hatton undercard, Sports Network’s claim that it never was, and the news that a venue and date is to be announced shortly? James commented:

“As far as we're concerned, I was preparing for the 1st October but since the phone call last week I have lightened up the training, taken a week off and will return to it next week in preparation for the November date. At the end of the day, I have nothing but respect for Barnes and whilst putting a show together across promotional companies is always difficult – often people don’t know what’s happening – what matters is my preparation is good and that I'm ready for November 12th. And if any problems arise then, we'll address them as they come up.”

There have been some curious circumstances surrounding the timing of this bout—was it ever really on the Hatton undercard? Sky Sports, the premier provided of live boxing coverage in the UK are still (September 22nd) promoting the bout as being the lead feature on the Hatton v Stewart undercard but Sports Network deny the fight was ever agreed for that date. Fans, for all the parties’ subsequent attempts to clarify the situation, as usual, are left in the dark.

Andy Ayling of Sport Network stated quite categorically:

“This fight has never, despite Board circulars, been on the MEN bill. This is a fact. James Hare was due to fight on the undercard in an eight rounder but has now, at his choice, been compensated as opposed to a having warm-up fight as the Barnes fight will happen sometime in November. The delay was caused due to Barnes being cleared by the Board following his recent broken-arm and Tommy Gilmour, the fighter’s manager, has been aware of the situation throughout.
There is no confusion!!”

True for those close to source, but what about the fans? Ayling’s assertion continues to conflict with Sky’s position on the fight and in addition to the British Boxing Board of Control circulars, published in early August which clearly stated:
 
”David Barnes (Holder) v James Hare
No purse offers were received for this contest but the Stewards are advised that terms have been agreed between the parties for this contest to take place at the MEN Arena, Manchester on 1st October 2004.”

…Simon Block, General Secretary of the BBBofC, further clarified their view of the fight and its timing and status in a letter to me today:

“… I would advise that agreement was reached between the Promoter and Manager of Champion Barnes and the Manager of challenger Hare for this mandatory defence ordered by the Stewards of the Board to take place in Manchester on 1st October 2004.

The Promoter Frank Warren has advised that he now has some difficulty in putting that contest on at that date and agreement has been reached with the Manager of Hare, Tommy Gilmour, for this to be put back to 12th November 2004.  The Stewards of the Board originally determined that this contest should take place by the end of October 2004 and my Chairman agrees that it would be nonsensical to disqualify the agreement for the sake of an extension of 12 days.

Those are the simple and basic facts of this matter and I am certainly looking forward to what on paper appears to be one of the best matchings in British boxing of this year.”

Nobody disagrees with that. Hare v Barnes is a must see fight but why the denial from Sports Network? Postponements and date changes are hardly new, Hare’s camp are on-board and the BBBofC supporting the extension. So what’s the problem? Is Sports Network concerned people may have purchased tickets on the premise that Hare v Barnes would feature?

Or were they right and the BBBofC, SKY Sports and James Hare wrong?

Tommy Gilmour Jnr., James Hare’s manager and promoter, was happy to update the situation and attempt to draw a line under the confusing episode.

Was the fight ever on the Ricky Hatton undercard?

“It was a possibility, but I think sensibly, Sports Network considered the bout a stand-alone contest. And we’re happy with that; Ricky’s is a huge and popular boy up there in Manchester. We’re happy because I’ve managed to negotiate for James to receive the same purse for the revised date despite it not being an MEN fight. Which means we can be the main event, we don’t have to play second fiddle to anyone and we can hopefully maximise the exposure for James.”

James Hare and Chris Aston (Hare’s trainer) tell me the fight is likely to take place on November 12th?

“We’re waiting on confirmation but yes that’s right and at a venue of Sports Network’s choosing.”

It’s been confusing for the fans hoping or expecting to see the fight on the Hatton undercard?

“There is no confusion, David Barnes is returning from an injury and the fight deserves both boys to be the fittest they can be.”

Andy Ayling contacted me, suggesting Hare was only ever offered the chance to box an 8 round tune up?

“That was another option but I didn’t think it was worth the risk six weeks ahead of a title clash, so Andy and I have it all sorted because as I say we’re happy that we’re getting exactly what we wanted, the same deal even though its not at the MEN.”

Of course, there is a need to push ahead with the match up because the Harry Dhami v Jimmy Vincent eliminator takes place in November, and a situation where a guy, is waiting on a guy, who’s…

(Interrupts) ”Yes, Dhami and Vincent box in November, on the 15th, but James would have no obligation to the winner, he’d have six months grace before that fight had to be made, we could make a voluntary during that time.”

To conclude, only one thing really matters and that’s the British Boxing fan has the opportunity to see Hare v Barnes in the ring. And for all the doubters and sceptics, have a little faith; these guys want the best fights too.

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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