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Articles of 2005

Pongsaklek Batters Naito, Retains Title

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In front of a partisan Japanese crowd and defending his WBC flyweight title for the twelfth time, 28-year-old Pongsaklek Wongjamkam used short, crisp combinations to batter challenger Daisuke Naito for seven rounds before the bout was called due to a cut over the right eye suffered by the courageous Japanese fighter. Naito was never completely out of the fight and was highly motivated; his eagerness stemming from his desire to avenge his embarrassing 34 second knockout to Wongjamkam back in 2001.

***

In round one the Thai southpaw showed off his defensive skills, making the aggressive, hyperactive Naito look clumsy, missing wildly. Wongjamkam deftly covered and began landing right hooks to the head of Naito. The round ended with the fighters going toe-to-toe in the center of the ring, loading up and unleashing bombs.

Naito started the second round the same as the first, darting in and out, and trying to unload fast combinations before catching any return fire. Wongjamkam was again able to block or duck most of the punches and then back up Naito with his own shots.

Halfway thru the round as Naito came in with a left-right combination, the two fighters clashed heads, causing Naito to rub his right eye and turn away briefly. Naito moved back towards Wongjamkam and the action resumed. A minute before the end of the round, Wongjamkam fired a straight left. As he did so the fighters butted heads once again. Naito turned away, clearly hurt. Blood streamed down his face from a thin slice over his right eye. The referee momentarily stopped the bout and brought Naito over to the attending ring physician who took a quick look before giving the ok to let the fight continue.

A point was deducted from Wongjamkam for the head butt and the battle recommenced. Again the fighters went right after each other, neither giving ground. As the end of the round grew near, it was Wongjamkam who was pressing forward, confidently letting go of his punches, pushing Naito backwards.

By the fourth round it was clear the eye of Naito was bothering him and affecting his ability to see. Wongjamkam repeatedly landed straight lefts to the eye and right hooks to the temple, frequently knocking Naito off balance. The Thai was beginning to dominate Naito, who nonetheless bravely ate a mixture of right hooks and straight lefts.

Naito had his best round in the fifth, catching Wongjamkam several times with straight rights but never hurting him. When Naito landed a hard right to the jaw of Wongjamkam, the Thai smiled and waved him in. The two traded once again in the center of the ring with Wongjamkam knocking Naito off balance with a stiff left. Each time Naito landed, Wongjamkam was able to impede Naito from furthering his attack. Although the eye of Naito was bleeding and swelling badly, he still managed to have his best round of the fight.

Wongjamkam picked away at the cut of Naito in the sixth with crisp jabs, dropping straight lefts to the stomach, followed by right hooks to the body. The end seemed near but Naito continued to give it his all and was still in the fight and landing punches.

The seventh round had just gotten under way when, after Naito pawed at the cut, the referee stepped in and again had him examined by the doctor. After a few seconds of consultation with referee Guadalupe Garcia, the doctor agreed to allow Naito to continue.

Naito launched a desperate attack, winging punch and punch until Wongjamkam countered, driving him back against the ropes. The pair traded leather for another thirty seconds with Wongjamkam getting the better of it before the referee stepped in. With blood flowing down the face of Naito and his forehead and eye swollen, this time the physician decided enough was enough and called an end to the bout.

According to WBC rules, the bout was to go to the scorecards. All three judges scored the bout 68-64 for Wongjamkam.

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The straight punches, effective defense and overall skill of Pongsaklek, along with Naito’s poor balance and inability to sustain his attack made the difference in the fight. Pongsaklek was clearly a notch above his outgunned opponent. It was a workmanlike performance by the champion and he now marches forward to a highly anticipated bout with Jorge Arce. First, though, he will need to get by the WBC’s #1 contender, Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua.

The win was the fifty-eighth of Wongjamkam’s career against only two losses, but even at this advanced stage of his career, he is still largely an unknown commodity in the U.S. He has never fought outside of Asia, fighting only Cambodia, Japan and his native Thailand.

There is a growing feeling the Thai is unwilling to face the WBC’s interim champion Jorge “Travieso” Arce as he backed out of the scheduled fight a few months ago. Actually it’s not quite as simple as being “scared” or not wanting to fight Arce.

According to Wongjamkam’s camp, their fighter was originally to be paid $250,000 by Top Rank, but as the fight drew near they were informed Wongjamkam would only be receiving $150,000.

Taking a $100,000 pay cut wasn’t acceptable so his camp did the next best thing: they offered Arce $100,000 to come to Thailand. This offer was rejected and the new date of the fight is now in limbo.

When asked what he would like to say to Jorge Arce, Pongsaklek’s only response was “I’ll have to be at my best against Arce. I know he’s a very good fighter.”

When Wongjamkam’s sponsor and promoter tell him to fight, he fights. When they tell him they don’t think a deal is what it should be, he listens. He is a simple and humble man, from the rice fields of Korat in the Issan province of Thailand, the poorest region of the country.

He is a fighter through and through, having fought fifty Muay Thai bouts before deciding to turn to boxing. He lives at the gym with thirty to forty other fighters, only leaving after a fight to visit his mother. A week later he is back at the gym, building his future and his legacy. He is never out of shape, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, trains six days a week, year-round. He lives to be a fighter and is happy and willing test his skills against anyone put before him.

When the question was raised as to whom he would most like to fight, his first response was Lorenzo Parra, quickly followed up by Vic Darchinyan. While he would like to unify the titles to become the undisputed champion, he also knows that in the business of boxing this is highly unlikely.

News and Notes

In their recent convention, the World Boxing Council has mandated the following: Lightweight: The winner of the fight between world champion Diego Corrales of the United States and No. 1 ranked Jose Luis Castillo of Mexico was approved for a voluntary defense in December, then must fight No. 2 ranked Sirimongkol Singwancha of Thailand.

Super featherweight: World champion Marco Antonio Barrera of Mexico is in a voluntary period. The fight between No. 1 ranked Erik Morales of Mexico and No. 2 ranked Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines was approved as a final eliminator.

Featherweight: World champion In-jin Chi of Korea and interim champion Humberto Soto of Mexico were both approved for voluntary defenses. The winners of the two fights must fight for the undisputed WBC title by April. The fight between No. 1 ranked Nicky Cook of England and No. 2 ranked Robert Guerrero of the United States was approved as a final eliminator.

Bantamweight: World champion Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan must fight No. 1 ranked Diego Morales of Mexico if Morales is medically approved. If not, Hasegawa must fight No. 2 ranked Veeraphol Nakhornluang of Thailand.

Super flyweight: World champion Masamori Tokuyama of Japan has reached an agreement to fight No. 1 ranked Jose Navarro of the United States in January.

Flyweight: World champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam of Thailand must next fight No. 1 ranked official challenger Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua.

Light flyweight: world champion Brian Viloria of the United States must next fight No. 1 ranked official challenger Juanito Rubillar of the Philippines.

Strawweight: World champion Eagle Kyowa of Japan will make a voluntary defense against Masaki Nakanuma on January 3. No. 1 ranked Rodel Mayol of the Philippines and No. 2 Lorenzo Trejo of Mexico have reached an agreement to fight in an eliminator.

This Week’s Results

October 4, 2005 – Gyungju-gymnasium, Gyungju City, South Korea

Jun Alos KO7 Jae-won Kim

October 4, 2005 – Tokyo, Japan

Nobuhito Honmo TD5 Dainoshin Kuma

October 4, 2005 – City Hall Ground, Nakornrachasima, Thailand

Terdsaek Jandaeng KO9 Jaime BarcelonaVacant WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight Title

Ratanapol Sor Vorapin KO1 Dicky Timor

October 7, 2005

Denkaosan Kaovichit Defeated Jun Eraham (PABA Flyweight Title)

October 8, 2005 – Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV, USA

Jorge Arce KO2 Hussy Hussein

Bobby Pacquiao SD10 Carlos Hernandez

October 8, 2005 – Sinsin, Cebu City, Philippines

Gabriel Pumar UD10 Noel Veronque

October 9, 2005 – Sangyo Hall, Kanazawa

Wethya Sakmuangklang MD12 Yasuo Kunimi (OPBF Super Bantamweight Title)

Upcoming Bouts

October 18, 2005 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

Yoshinori Nishizawa  vs.  Peter Mitrevski Jr. (Vacant OPBF Super Middleweight Title)

October 20, 2005 – Bangkok, Thailand

Promoter: Onesongchai Boxing Promotion

Crazy Kim  vs.  Somchai Chimrum (Vacant Asian Boxing Council [WBC] Light Middleweight Title)

October 26, 2005 – Bangkok, Thailand

Carina Moreno  vs.  Nongmai Sor Siriporn (WBC Womens Mini Flyweight Title)

October 29 – Tucson, Arizona, USA

Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (WBO Bantamweight Title)

Fernando Montiel vs. Pramuansak Phosawan (WBO Junior Bantamweight Title)

Hugo Cazares vs. Kaichon Sor Vorapin (WBO Junior Flyweight Title)

Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Sod Looknongyangtoy (WBO Junior Featherweight Title)

October 30, 2005 – Philsports Arena, Pasig City, Philippines

Gerry Penalosa  vs.  Mbwana Matumla

November 4, 2005 – Sriprajan, Supanburi, Thailand

Promoter: Nakornluang Boxing Promotion

Devid Lookmahanak vs. Akiyoshi Kobayashi (Asian Boxing Council [WBC] Super Flyweight Title)

Napapol Kiatisakchokchai  vs. Yoshimitsu Shibanuma 

Veeraphol Sahaprom  vs. Roy Doliguez

Thong Por Chokchai  vs. Jaime Barcelona

Articles of 2005

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

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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 TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

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

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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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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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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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