Top 3 Comebacks of 2004
By Oleg Bershadsky (December 25, 2004) 
Photo © Marty Rosengarten
After losing one's place in the ever fleeting spotlight of the boxing arena, the journey to regain one's standing is never easy and more often than not it’s disastrous. Whether the drop in popularity or standing was caused by an injury, a self imposed retirement, or simply a crushing defeat, in the end most fighters are only left with the memories of their former conquests and glory. It is not often that a fighter who would be thought well to retire, comes back to prove he is still one of the best pound for pound boxers in the world. It is also rare to see fighters come back from long layoffs and look as good, if not better, than before their separation from the sport of boxing. Despite the odds seemingly being stacked against the fighter vying for a second chance at stardom, there are always those few special fighters who never cared for odds and therefore have no problems defying them every time.

These are my picks for the top 3 comebacks of 1994:

#3 COMEBACK: Kostya Tszyu in his fight against Sharmba Mitchell

Out of the ring for almost 2 years because of a severe shoulder and Achilles tendon injuries, Tszyu’s comeback was much in doubt. Even more in doubt was his choice for his first opponent. While most experts thought it would be wise for Tszyu to have at least one tune up fight prior to jumping into the ring with Sharmba Mitchell, the champion showed little concern and seemed to have complete confidence in himself and the choice he had made.

On paper this looked to be a tough fight for Tszyu, especially if you take into account his long layoff and Mitchell’s constant activity level accompanied by some impressive victories. When the two arch foes finally met it was Kostya Tszyu who came out victorious via a TKO win in the 3rd round. Tszyu’s right hands obliterated Mitchell who was dropped to the canvas four times in the span of three short rounds. The fight was so one sided that it certainly belongs among the best comebacks of 2004.

#2 COMEBACK: Felix Trinidad in his fight against Ricardo Mayorga

After more than two years of self imposed retirement Felix Trinidad announced his comeback (to the delight of many boxing fans) against the tough Nicaraguan, Ricardo Mayorga. Although Trinidad was a favorite in the fight, there were still many doubts about whether he could stand up to Mayorga’s punching power and whether his boxing skills were still sharp enough to carry him to victory.

What eventually transpired was an awful beating dished out by Trinidad to the overmatched and under-skilled Mayorga. Trinidad dominated every single round, while flooring the Nicaraguan a multitude of times on his way to an easy 8th round TKO victory. This was a boxer vs. brawler match-up and in the end the battered Mayorga received the most painful boxing lesson of his life. This almost flawless comeback by Felix Trinidad against a worthy opponent is definitely deserving of being put at the top of 2004 comebacks.

#1 COMEBACK: Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Eric Morales III

Largely discounted after his loss to Manny Pacquiao, it seemed only a matter of time until the name of Marco Antonio Barrera would disappear into the abyss where so many great fighters find themselves at the end of their careers. His last chance at regaining his former glory -and most importantly respect- lay in his third fight against his main nemesis Eric Morales. A fight in which the bigger, stronger, and younger Morales was deemed a clear favorite; and a fight the smaller Barrera was supposed to lose gracefully on his way to retirement.

Instead, Barrera showed why he still deserves to be mentioned among the world’s best pound for pound fighters. In a grueling 12 round fight Barrera executed his clever strategy close to perfection, as he consistently beat Morales to the punch and won the fight by majority decision. Because he won the fight he wasn’t supposed to win and because Barrera showed that it is always possible to resurrect one's career, his fight deserves to be ranked as the #1 comeback of the year.

2004 was a great year for boxing, in fact any year where Morales and Barrera fight is a great year. There were many great fights this year, more than I can possibly mention here. Let us just hope that the next year will be even more eventful, with many more surprises and plot twists awaiting us. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

P.S. Please read my special petition here and if you agree with it, please add your name to it. Thank you!
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