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The controversial history of 'Unfinished Business'

3/14/2008

Promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy took a bold step attaching the battle-worn nickname "Unfinished Business" to Saturday's Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rematch.

The title "Unfinished Business" has been tacked on to several major fights -- in each case, for a rematch to a bout that was even more controversial than the Pacquiao-Marquez draw four years ago. There's no way that the first Pacquiao-Marquez battle left things quite as unsettled as these nasty bits of "Unfinished Business" from the past:

Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor II: Unfinished Business

Date: Sept. 17, 1994

Promoter: Don King
Unfinished indeed -- by two seconds! In their first bout in 1990, Taylor had outboxed Chavez and -- despite absorbing long-term physical damage -- would have outpointed the Mexican legend if he'd just lasted until the final bell.

Chavez mounted a ferocious attack in the closing seconds of Round 12. Taylor seemed defenseless in his corner, and referee Richard Steele awarded Chavez a TKO win with just two seconds left in the fight.

Intense scorn was heaped upon Steele for years for the stoppage, which short-changed Chavez for his clutch finish. As for Philadelphia phenom Taylor, he was never the same after that first, destructive war. The rematch was an easy Round 8 TKO for Chavez.

Montell Griffin-Roy Jones II: Unfinished Business

Date: Aug. 7, 1997

Promoter: Square Ring

In their first fight five months earlier, Jones had been leading on two judges' cards in Round 9 when he knocked Griffin down to a knee -- then foolishly hit Griffin twice while he was down. Referee Tony Perez counted Griffin out, but New Jersey boxing chairman Larry Hazzard jumped in and reversed the verdict to disqualify Jones for hitting a man illegally, handing him his first pro loss.

More controversy ensued, but Jones meant business in this "Unfinished Business" rematch, knocking Griffin out in Round 1.

Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield II: Unfinished Business … The Search for the Truth

Date: Nov. 13, 1999

Promoter: Don King
Eight months earlier at Madison Square Garden, Lewis and Holyfield fought to a draw, but some observers ranked that decision among the greatest scoring rip-offs in boxing history.

Lewis seemed to dominate that heavyweight title unification fight, and the ringside punch counts backed up that impression. But inexperienced judge Eugenia Williams scored the fight 115-113 for Holyfield, and Larry O'Connell had it 115-115. Williams later testified in a hearing that she had an obscured view and didn't see all the action. ''What I saw is not what the camera saw,'' she said.

Lewis settled business with a more comfortable decision win in this Las Vegas return bout.

Don Steinberg, a winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America's award for best column in 2005, covers boxing for The Philadelphia Inquirer.