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Articles of 2006

The Glass is Half Full in 2006

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The New Year brings us hope for peace
A new day for boxing kind
Where we can all live hand in hand
And leave all the B.S. of boxing behind

 The Coming Year

Corrales vs. Castillo III

Resident gluttons for punishment, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, give us their third, modern-day version of Graziano-Zale when the duo meets once again February 4th. Say what you will, but a third fight with Castillo is all wrong for Corrales. Weight issues aside, Corrales persevered in the first fight thanks to his enormous heart and a little luck and these sorts of performances are hard to duplicate. Castillo will make weight without the assistance of an errant foot, and take out Corrales before round six, providing an anti-climatic finish to the trilogy.

James Toney vs. Hasim Rahman

Far removed from being the middleweight he once was, Toney’s now an obese version of Bernard Hopkins, only unlike B-Hop, Toney scraps during his fights, fat and all. He’s the same angry fighter he’s been all along, with the same mad skills, and as one of the last remaining old-school fighters, he deserves a modicum of respect.

Forget the steroid controversy, the real question, in his biggest heavyweight test to date, is the fat man capable of conquering chronic underachiever Hasim Rahman, or will he end up on his backside like a beached whale? Rahman may be the first to shut Toney’s trap, but as Big James is an anomaly, anything can happen. Regardless of how many coconut cream pies he eats, I wouldn’t bet against him. Toney by UD12.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Zab Judah

On January 7, 2006, Zab “Super” Judah puts his WBC, WBA and IBF titles on the line against Carlos “Tata” Baldomir. Should Judah successfully defend his titles as expected, it sets up an April 8 meeting with Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather.

Mayweather sits atop the pound for pound ratings with few others as deserving of the spot. A win over “Super” Judah would further solidify his position and set up a massive superfight with England’s Ricky Hatton at 140.

But Pretty Boy may find Judah to be his most challenging opponent to date. He’s the naturally bigger fighter, he can punch, he can box, and he can match Mayweather’s speed. Plus he’s a southpaw. Judah gave King Kostya all he could handle for a round until a well-paced punch from Tszyu left him flopping around the ring like a catfish in a frying pan. His only other loss was to Corey Spinks which he avenged with a 9th round KO.

In what should be a thrilling and explosive tactical battle: Mayweather by a stunning, one punch fish-finder in the late rounds.

The Thai Elite

Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai, Veeraphol Sahaprom and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam are certainly all among the top ten or twenty of the greatest Thai fighters of all-time and all have one thing in common; they’re all closing in on the end of their careers.

Ratanachai Sor Vorapin

In the Mexico vs. Thailand World Cup promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Sor Vorapin faced a hungry and vastly improved Jhonny Gonzalez. Sor Vorapin went into the bout as the prohibitive favorite and the most experienced fighter of the event with 73 fights under his belt. But in his last title defense against Mauricio Martinez, the 29-year-old veteran showed signs of fraying and narrowly escaped defeat.

The younger Jhonny Gonzalez came in off an impressive KO over William Gonzalez and showed from the start he deserved to be champion. From the outset Gonzalez controlled the bout, pounding Sor Vorapin into oblivion and knocking the Thai down three times before referee Robert Byrd stopped the carnage in round seven.

The bantamweight division has a plethora of talent and Sor Vorapin has a minefield of fighters lying ahead of him; unless he’s given a gift fight against a weak titleholder, his days as a champion will remain a thing of the past.

Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai

When Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai put his title on the line against Vicente Mosquera of Panama, he hadn’t fought for nine months. For many fighters, fighting once or twice a year may be enough; but Thai fighters tend to fight 4 or 5 times per year and need to stay active. Still, it came as a major shock to most when he dropped hard-fought decision in a war with Vicente Mosquera.

When you consider Sor Nanthachai hadn’t lost in eleven years and Mosquera had never defeated anyone of any consequence, this was a huge upset. At 35, Yodsanan is fighting on borrowed time and has to move quickly. There have been talks of a fight against KO artist Edwin Valero, but this has yet to be confirmed by promoter Artie Petullo, and at least for now Sor Nanthachai will have to be content fighting tune-ups in Thailand until he can land a big fight.

Veeraphol Sahaprom

At 38, Sahaprom is also fighting on borrowed time. Early in 2005, after holding the WBA bantamweight title for 6½ years, he dropped a close decision to Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan, losing his title in the process. Sahaprom has been on a mission since the loss, fighting every other month and winning four fights in a row. A rematch against Hasegawa would be ideal, and even at his ripe old age he’d stand a good chance of regaining the title from Hasegawa.

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam vs. Jorge Arce

The much anticipated bout between Wonjongkam, the long-reigning champion from Thailand, and Arce, the interim champion of Mexico, may actually come to pass this year. Rosendo Alvarez had been declared the mandatory challenger however; this was before Arce took the interim title. The WBC ordered negotiations to take place between the two, only to somehow quietly sweep the matter under the rug.

A Wonjongkam-Arce summit promises to be explosive should it take place. The shy and reserved Thai is the exact opposite of Travieso and their personalities match their fighting styles. Arce has excellent knockout power; Wonjongkam’s power is good. Arce is free-swinging and at times wild; Wonjongkam is a masterful technician, content to use his considerable defensive skills to set up openings and force his opponent into making mistakes.

If Pongsaklek makes it out of the first four rounds, I’ll go with the Thai via a close, unanimous decision. If Arce is focused – and especially if the fight is outside of Thailand – it could be the end of a long title run for Wonjongkam.

Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym

He’s arguably the best of the best of the new-age Thai fighters. He’s quick, he’s fundamentally sound, he’s got a decent chin, he’s young and strong and he can whack a little. In another words, he’s the total package. Look for him to defeat WBA champion Wladimir Sidorenko in 2006 in what will be the start of a lengthy reign.

Indonesian Rumble in the Jungle 2 – Chris John vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

On March 4, the WBA featherweight championship bout between former super champion Juan Manuel Marquez and regular champion Chris John will finally take place on Borneo Island, Indonesia. Originally scheduled for December 9th, the bout has been postponed twice due to a chronic and serious ankle injured suffered by John.

It’s been a rough year for Marquez. First, The RING magazine’s #1 featherweight and #5 pound for pound fighter was stripped by the IBF in August for failing to defend his title against mandatory challenger Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym. Then he was subsequently stripped of his WBA super championship. Not one promoter was willing to shell out the 50K purse bid minimum for Marquez to defend the title against the undeserving Rakkiatgym, not even his own promoter. So without declining the mandatory, or even setting foot in a ring, Marquez is now without a championship belt.

Aside from Chris John, though, not many dispute that Marquez is the best featherweight boxer in the world. But he’ll have to prove it against John for a paltry $30,000 and change in order to take back possession of the belt which was unjustly seized.

John is a gifted fighter and by no means a pushover. He’s vastly underrated, underexposed and relatively unknown and unseen outside of Asia. Make no mistake about it, the Indonesian Thin Man can fight and will test Marquez.  Pick-em…

Fantastic Filipino or Future Flop?

Rey Bautista

Filipino fans call Rey Bautista “Boom-Boom,” and the heir to the throne now held by Manny Pacquiao. This may be expecting too much though, as he’s still only a 19-year-old teenager. It may take another year or two, even three, to find and fill the weighty shoes now worn by the Pacman. He’s yet to have faced any high-quality opposition with his best wins coming against undefeated Hengky Wuwungan of Indonesia, Tanzania’s Obote Ameme and KO specialist Gerardo Espinoza of Mexico.

In his most recent bout against Gerardo Espinoza, Bautista was forced to climb off the canvas after being dropped in the second round. He went on to control the rest of the bout and win a close, unanimous eight round decision but he does have some flaws and will need some work. Bautista moves to 19-0 with 14 KO’s while Espinoza drops his fifth fight in a row.

Fantasies and Farces

BRITISH heavyweight pretender Fraudley Audley Harrison will realize his limitations as a pugilist and decide to run for Prime Minister of England. He’ll shock the world and win via the sympathy vote. Shortly thereafter he’ll appoint Danny Williams as his right-hand man and “advisor.”

The self-proclaimed, humble servant of boxing, El Presidente Jose Sulaiman, will follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City for reasons only he knows. Along the way he’ll befriend the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. Once in the Emerald City, he’ll order the Scarecrow and Tin Man to pay the WBC a sanctioning fee. He’ll then label the Cowardly Lion the “interim” champion and extract a sanctioning fee from him as well. As if this weren’t enough, he’ll find a rich midget who’s never fought a day in his life, somehow rate him #3 in the world and then get him a title shot.

Sulaiman will also realize that regardless of what he may think about himself, or what sort of pompous front he creates, boxing doesn’t need the WBC or him. He’ll retire from boxing, fade from public scrutiny and become the owner of the largest pig farm in Mexico.

The WBA will once again add to its list of growing championships. Not only will they have regular and Super-Champions, they’ll now add the “Super-Duper-Champion” title. A Super-Duper-Champion will be awarded to the fighter who pays the most sanctioning fees in a calendar year and a winning record will not be a prerequisite.

Question of the week

Where would boxing be without the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and every other alphabet organization?

Happy New Year and long live The Sweet Science!

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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