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Articles of 2004

Gatti's Great for Boxing, But not Great

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This past weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Arturo Gatti won his second world title belt by defeating Gianluca Branco for the vacant WBC jr. welterweight title.

It's a well-earned distinction for a guy who has given so much to the game with his two-fisted, free-wheeling, barroom brawling style. In an age where boxing yearns for legitimate stars and guys who can put butts in the seats, the sport needs a dozen or so more guys just like him.

But let's get one thing straight, while Gatti is great for the game, he's not a great fighter.

No, this is no knock on Gatti, he deserves everything he gets. He fills arenas- he fought to another packed house in Atlantic City, he's a consistent ratings getter for HBO, and because of his all-action style he makes more than a million bucks a fight now. Nobody denies him all that, but too many times you hear the general media or talking heads- that cover boxing about once a blue moon- refer to Gatti as a 'great fighter' Even boxing fans who you'd think would know better refer to him with the same adjective.

Is he exciting? Yes. Is he worth the price of admission? No doubt about it. Does he epitomize everything that the sport should stand for? Absolutely.

But does all that make him a 'great' fighter?

No.

I mean, if he's great, what does that make guys like Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Henry Armstrong, Roberto Duran, Ezzard Charles, Benny Leonard or Archie Moore. Or for a contemporary comparison, guys like Roy Jones( although he is vastly overrated in certain aspects), Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather? Those guys are great and deserve those types of accolades.

Gatti, is a gutsy fighter, who is good- not great. And there's no shame in that. This is not to demean him in anyway. I guess what I'm really try to say- and using Gatti- as an example is that the word 'great' is well, greatly overused. There are a lot of things that are 'poor', 'sub-par', 'average' and some that are merely 'OK' or 'pretty good' and 'decent'. But few things in life, are truly great.

Muhammad Ali was a great heavyweight. Lennox Lewis is very good. Willie Mays was a great ballplayer. Andre Dawson was very good. Michael Jordan was a great basketball player. Ray Allen is very good. Rakim was a great rapper. Jay-Z is very good. You see the point that I'm making?

That word has to be thrown around like manhole covers, instead today it's thrown around like pennies out of a change jar.

To put this into further perspective, while Gatti is now a jr. welterweight 'champion', he would have never challenged for the WBC crown if it was still around the waist of Kostya Tszyu, who is widely regarded as the divisions best. But to go further, he beat a guy in Gianluca Branco that wasn't even rated in Ring Magazine's top ten. And looking at the division, you wonder if Gatti is even a top five jr. welterweight himself.

Are you 100-percent sure that you'd put your mortgage on Gatti against the likes of: Sharmba Mitchell, Zab Judah, Vivian Harris, Ricky Hatton, DeMarcus Corley and even a youngster like Miguel Cotto?

I'm not sure I would and I'll tell you why. This supposedly 'new and improved' Gatti has made some adjustments in his style that has been very beneficial to him. But the new Buddy McGirt trained Gatti has beaten the likes of a faded Terron Millett, took two out of three grueling fights against Micky Ward and then beat an unknown Branco for the title. The trilogy against 'Irish' Micky was great for boxing, but the reality is that Ward was a fighter with a dozen losses on his record and his straight-ahead, come-forward, style was built to order for Gatti. When he faced a guy that could box a bit in Branco, he did struggle a tad.

Since his loss to Oscar De La Hoya in March of 2001, Gatti has been adroitly moved by both his manager Pat Lynch and his promoter Main Events. Using the leverage of his marketability and popularity, they have restored their fighter without facing a legitimate top five jr. welterweight.

Now, it looks like his next fight will be against Leonard Dorin in June. Dorin is a tough little nut to crack. But 'little' is the operative word. Dorin is a diminutive sort who's been described as a lightweight, with featherweight's height. And to top it off, he doesn't punch all that hard.

But it should be a great fight- yes, I said the word- because both guys make for pleasing fights and will be right in each others face all night long throwing leather in all directions.

And no doubt as we get closer to the fight, over-exuberant journalists and observers will start talking about what a great fighter Gatti is.

But remember what I told you here, Gatti is a good fighter, who's great for the game. THIS WEEK

HBO returns again this week with another edition of 'Boxing After Dark' with a doubleheaded featuring WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito defending against Hercules Kyvelos. And IBF bantamweight king Rafael Marquez is facing Pete Frissina.

I don't want to say that these two bouts are mismatches in favor of the two Mexicans, but more than one insider has dubbed this show,' White Guys Can't Fight'

That's harsh.

BABY JOE

Joe Mesi has been added as the opening bout for HBO when Shane Mosley faces Winky Wright on March 13th. Believe it or not, Michael Moorer is being considered as his opponent.

What, is Sean Gibbons choosing the opponent here?

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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