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Articles of 2005

Boxing News: Heavyweights Rahman And Barrett Square Off Aug. 13th



WBC Interim Heavyweight Championship: Former World Heavyweight Champion Hasim ‘The Rock’ Rahman vs. No. 2-Ranked Contender Monte ‘Two Gunz’ Barrett

CHICAGO—Promoter Don King has scheduled another blockbuster card that will feature three world title fights—and two additional heavyweight matches with world title implications—on Aug. 13 at the United Center and on pay per view.

Former unified heavyweight world champion and current World Boxing Council No. 1-ranked heavyweight contender Hasim “The Rock” Rahman will face No. 2-ranked Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett for the interim WBC heavyweight crown; WBC interim super welterweight champion Alejandro “Terra” Garcia will take on Luca  “Bergamo Bomber” Messi; World Boxing Association welterweight titlist Luis Collazo will meet former world champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez; a special heavyweight attraction showcases Andrew “Powerful Pole” Golota against Przemyslaw “Chemek” Saleta in what has been dubbed the “Polish Fight of the Century”; and another special heavyweight attraction pits world top-10 ranked Sergei Liakhovich opposing Owen “What the Heck” Beck.

The necessity for an interim heavyweight title match occurred after current WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko suffered an injury while training to face Rahman, which postponed their scheduled April 30 meeting at Madison Square Garden to June 18.  The fight was then rescheduled for July 23, but Klitschko was forced to postpone the match again and underwent back surgery on April 19.

With Klitschko’s health in question, the possibility exists that the winner of Rahman vs. Barrett will not only become the interim WBC champion but could become outright champion if Klitschko is unable to return to the ring in the near future.

“If Vitali will not or cannot fight me, I’m happy to fight Monte Barrett for the interim title,” Rahman said.  “I’ll beat Monte and then it’s up to Vitali whether he wants to surrender his title to me in or out of the ring.”

Rahman, (40-5, 33 KOs) from Baltimore, Md., now living and training in Las Vegas, reached the pinnacle of his career when he shocked unified world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and the world on April 22, 2001, with a fifth-round knockout punch in Carnival City, South Africa.

The newly crowned WBC and International Boxing Federation titlist was contractually obligated to give Lewis an immediate rematch, which was held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2001.

Rahman deviated from the game plan that had served him so well in South Africa months earlier, and Lewis went on to win the fight by way of knockout in round four.

Rahman went on to face Evander Holyfield, David Tua and John Ruiz with mixed results.  Long considered to be the most physically gifted athlete in the heavyweight division, Rahman, 32, recently re-dedicated himself to the sport.  In his last appearance he weighed in, for the first time since he defeated Lewis, at a trim 232 pounds.  The result was a fourth-round technical knockout over Australian Kali “Checkmate” Meehan on Nov. 13 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Barrett, (31-3, 17 KOs) from Queens, N.Y., arrives at his first world title appearance coming off impressive back-to-back wins over previously undefeated foes, both of whom were 24-0 before facing Barrett.  He won a decision over Dominick Guinn in Hot Springs, Ark., on March 27, 2004, and scored a ninth-round technical knockout over Owen “What the Heck” Beck on Feb. 5 in St. Louis.

Barrett, 34, is also a seasoned veteran like Rahman whose only losses have come against top-notch contenders Lance “Mount” Whitaker (split decision, 1999), Wladimir Klitschko (KO, 2000) and “Baby Joe” Mesi (majority decision, 2003).

In a wide open heavyweight division, one of the more intriguing aspects of this fight is Barrett and Rahman both possess the dangerous combination of skill and experience that could enable either to emerge as the next great heavyweight world champion.

WBA Super Welterweight Championship:
Alejandro “Terra” Garcia vs. Luca “Bergamo Bomber” Messi

WBA interim super welterweight champion Garcia will defend his title against Italian native Messi. Garcia, (24-1, 23 KOs) from Tijuana, Mexico, won the interim title in Chicago on May 21 in a terrific fight, his second meeting with Roshii “The Mongoose” Wells.

The heavy-handed Garcia decked Wells in round eight and disposed of his game foe by way of technical knockout near the end of round nine.

Messi, (28-5-1, 12 KOs) from Bergamo, is currently the Italian 154-pound champion and held the WBA International welterweight title in 2002.  This will be the biggest fight of his career, his first appearance in America, and only his second appearance outside of Italy.

WBA Welterweight Championship:
Luis Collazo vs. Miguel Angel Gonzalez

WBA welterweight champion Collazo (Zab Judah has been anointed a WBA Super Champion) will defend his title against former WBC lightweight champion Gonzalez.

Collazo made the fateful decision to take his first world title fight on three weeks’ notice when WBA welterweight champion Jose Antonio Rivera’s opponent scratched just before their scheduled meeting on April 2.

If that weren’t daunting enough for Collazo (25-1, 11 KOs), a proud Puerto Rican from Queens, N.Y., the fight took place in Rivera’s hometown of Worcester, Mass.  The brave challenger battled Rivera for the full 12 rounds, always seeming to give more than he took, and was rewarded with a split-decision victory and his first world title.

Gonzalez (49-4-1, 39 KOs) is a Mexican legend who has battled many greats during his career including Julio Cesar Chavez, “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, Kostya Tszyu and Cory Spinks.

Special Heavyweight Attraction “Polish Fight of the Century”:
Andrew “Powerful Pole” Golota vs. Przemyslaw “Chemek” Saleta

Golota vs. Saleta is a Polish super-fight that had been planned to take place twice previously only to be delayed until now.  The two great Polish heavyweights were close to finalizing a deal in 1999, but Golota chose to face Michael Grant instead.  Similarly, Golota had been in discussions to face Saleta the following year but opted to face “Iron” Mike Tyson.

Saleta, (42-6, 21 KOs) from Warsaw, Poland, has long fought in the shadow of his more famous countryman Golota; however, Saleta was the first Polish fighter to turn professional in 1991.  He had been a national, European and world kickboxing champion as both an amateur and professional, who turned to boxing “because I had achieved everything there was to achieve in the sport,” Saleta said.

Saleta sparred with Golota in the late 1980s, but the two fighters have followed completely different paths since then both in and out of the ring.  While Golota became an enigmatic introvert whose boxing skills brought him to the top of the heavyweight division, Saleta, with his movie star looks and endorsement deals, has become a media darling in Poland who often graces the covers of female-appeal magazines.

“I have always wanted to prove that I am a better fighter than Golota and as good as any fighter in the world,” Saleta said.  “He’s just had better promoters.  This will be the Polish Fight of the Century and Chicago will be a better place for this fight than Warsaw.

“Golota has always talked about me in the press and now he’s going to have to face me in the ring.  I will do the same thing Brewster did to him.”

Saleta lived in Florida and trained under the legendary Angelo Dundee from 1992 to 1996.  Saleta became the WBC International cruiserweight champion in 1994 before moving to heavyweight the following year.

Saleta’s career highlight occurred when he became the first and only Polish fighter to become European champion when he scored a ninth-round technical knockout over then-undefeated Luan Krasniqi in Dortmund, Germany on July 20, 2002.  (Krasniqi defeated Lance “Mount” Whitaker on May 28 in a World Boxing Organization elimination bout, which puts him in line to face champion “Relentless” Lamon Brewster.)

Golota’s last three fights have been for world heavyweight titles.  He fought IBF champion Chris Byrd to a draw at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2004.  After knocking down World Boxing Association heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz twice in the second round at the Garden on Nov. 13 (and Ruiz had a point deducted for hitting on the break in round four), he still suffered a decision loss.  Many ringside observers felt Golota had won both of these contests.

In his last appearance, Golota (38-6-1, 31 KOs) faced WBO heavyweight champion “Relentless” Lamon Brewster on May 21 at the United Center and suffered a first-round technical knockout.

After having gone 24 rounds with two world champions, Golota was let down after losing so quickly to the WBO champion.

“I feel unfulfilled after the Brewster fight,” Golota said.  “Those 53 seconds is not who I am and what boxer I am.  I don’t want to leave the sport this way.  Knockouts are just part of boxing.”

Special Heavyweight Attraction:
Sergei Liakhovich vs. Owen “What the Heck” Beck

Two of the most highly regarded young heavyweights, Liakhovich and Beck, who are both knocking on the door of their first world title shot, add youthful zest to the card.

Liakhovich, (22-1, 14 KOs) from Belarussia, won the North American Boxing Organization title in 2001 by winning a unanimous decision over then-undefeated Friday “The 13th” Ahunanya.  He suffered his first and only loss in his next match against the always-dangerous Maurice “Mo Betta” Harris in 2002.

He has rung up six consecutive wins since then, including a unanimous decision in his last appearance against highly regarded Dominick Guinn in Las Vegas on April 22.

Beck, (24-1, 18 KOs) from Kingston, Jamaica, now fighting out of Nashville, Tenn., stunned the boxing world with his performance against Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett in his last appearance, which was a WBC elimination bout in St. Louis on Feb. 5.

Barrett struck first with a flash knockdown in round two, but Beck recovered and rocked Barrett in the middle rounds.  Barrett prevailed with a technical knockout in round nine, but Beck’s performance was so strong that one judge had him ahead by a point before he succumbed to his more seasoned opponent.

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More



A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06



Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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