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Articles of 2006

Alessandro Duran, Second Generation Champion

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Duran is a name that brings to memory many great fights. In the United States, it is synonymous with “Hands of Stone” Roberto Duran. In Italy, you have to specify who you are talking about, because three Durans made it big in the ring: Juan Carlos Duran and his sons Massimiliano and Alessandro. While the Argentinian-born Juan Carlos was a true legend of the 1960s and early ‘70s, Massimiliano won the WBC cruiserweight title in 1990 and Alessandro enjoyed his golden moment from 1996 to 2002. Alessandro faced, among others, Thomas Damgaard, who will fight Arturo Gatti next January 28 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Alessandro, what kind of boxer is Damgaard?

He can fight, keeps the rhythm very high, and never takes a backward step. Anyway, he is not somebody to be scared of. I faced him on November 3, 2000 in Copenhagen. I was European welterweight champion, but I agreed to go to Denmark because the purse bid was very high: 430,000,000 Italian Lires.  Right now, it would be about 222,076 Euros ($266,491). Being the champion, I was getting the biggest share of the purse. During the fight, Thomas never hit me hard. The judges gave him the victory because we were in Damgaard’s territory, but the European Boxing Union recognized that the verdict wasn’t fair and ordered an immediate rematch. Thomas didn’t want to do it and the title was declared vacant. On May 4, 2001 I faced Maxim Nesterenko in Bologna, TKOed him during the ninth round and became European champion again. I defended the belt against Douglas Bellini and lost it by split decision to Christian Bladt. Guess where? In Denmark.

Do you think that Thomas Damgaard can defeat Arturo Gatti?

Yes, he can. Arturo Gatti is on his way down. He proved it against Floyd Mayweather Jr. I picked Floyd to win, but not that easily. It was like watching a seasoned pro against an amateur. I don’t understand how could the fight be so onesided. By the way, I consider Mayweather the best boxer pound for pound: he has a great tecnique and is faster than anybody else.

Was Damgaard you toughest opponent?

No way. I faced many boxers more dangerous than him. One of them was Gary Murray. He was a Scot who lived and fought in South Africa. He hit really hard and played dirty. In our first battle, for the WBU welterweight crown, he broke my face with headbutts and was disqualified during the fifth round. In the rematch, I dominated and got an unanimous decision. Gary Murray was the classic southpaw that nobody ever wants to fight. He was ranked behind the WBC and WBA champions, by most experts.

Peter Malinga was another tough customer.

Yes, he was. I fought him twice. The first time, he won by 3rd round KO. I want to say something about it. Malinga and I were clinching and the referee separated us. While the ref was still screaming Stop, Malinga hit me with a left hook. I didn’t go down because the ropes were behind me. Malinga hit me again with a right hand while the bell rang and I was counted out. To me, the first left hook was illegal. The ref should have allowed me to recover and deducted Malinga a point. Three months and half later, we fought the rematch and I won by majority decision: 117-111, 115-113 and 114-114. I don’t understand how could one judge could consider the bout a draw. Anyway, the fight was so spectacular that I was on the front page of the Italian sports newspaper the following day.

You won most of the rematches.

Yes, I defeated almost any fighter who beat me. In 1992, I lost the Italian welterweight belt to Santo Serio (TKO 10). In 1993 I TKOed him in four rounds. In 1995 I lost to Adriano Offreda (TKO 10). In 1996 I got an unanimous decision. In 1997 I lost to Peter Malinga (KO 3). Three months later, I won on points. In 1999 I lost the European title to Andrei Pestriaev (TKO 6). In 2000 I regained the crown by unanimous decision. The only exception being Michele Piccirillo, who beat me twice.

Let’s talk about those fights.

The first time, I underrated him and didn’t train properly. That’s why he knocked me down in the third round and hit me at will during the fifth. My cornermen threw in the towel. In the second match, Piccirillo got an unanimous decision: 117-111 on all scorecards. Let me say that six points in his favor were too many. It was a very exciting battle; 2,100,000 people watched us on national television (at 11.30 pm). Thinking about it, we should have capitalized on our popularity and put up a third fight. I never saw Piccirillo fight like that again, he gave his best against me.

Is it true that you had promotional problems when you signed to fight Piccirillo the first time?

Yes, it is. I was discussing my future with promoter Renzo Spagnoli. He wanted me to defend the WBU title many times against easy opponents, while I wanted big fights for major purses. I got revenge against Peter Malinga and felt I could beat everybody. I asked Renzo to arrange a fight with former WBO and WBA lightweight champion Dingaan Thobela. On October 8, 1997, he gave a beating to Gary Murray (4th round TKO). After that, Thobela was highly ranked among welterweights by every organization. Besides, he was a star in South Africa and had sponsors who could guarantee a significant amount of money. Spagnoli didn’t want to work on that and I signed with Salvatore Cherchi. During my career I changed many promoters, but I never had a manager. I did it by myself and asked advice to my father and brother (who also trained me). Getting back to Dingaan Thobela, he proved to be an outstanding champion winning the WBC super middleweight title. Not many fighters won three major belts in two weight divisions.

Many boxers underrate the Italian title. You fought for it 17 times. Why?

Because I always considered a big honor to be Italian champion. My father had won the Italian middleweight belt in 1966/7 and built his popularity upon that. Besides, my purses were always right. With those 17 Italian title fights (my record was 13-4), I bought an apartment. Let me say that I consider the Italian belt much more prestigious than any intercontinental, international, European Union, Mediterranean or youth championship. There are so many phony titles that I’m sure I didn’t name them all.

You put the European Union title among the minor ones.

Yes, because it’s a minor title. They invented it to get the fee and make anybody feel like a champion. In my continent, there is only one major belt: the EBU title. Only one fighter in each weight division can claim to be European champion. The divisions are just 14 because the EBU doesn’t recognize strawweights, light and super flyweights. In North America, there are three titles: NABA, NABO and NABF. How can the fans understand who the real North American champion is?

Many people consider the WBU a minor organization too.

I know, but I won and defended the WBU crown against top rated welterweights. I think that the level of my competition makes the fights for the WBU belt worth of world title status. There are so many champions of the major sanctioning bodies who fight bums. I’m sure they get peanuts for that. A good training session would be more useful for those champions than an easy fight.    

Why was your first pro match was in the United States?

Because I wanted to become a professional, but I was just 18-years-old and the Italian boxing commission (FPI) didn’t allow fighters my age to turn pro. I had relatives in Chicago, on my mother’s side, so I moved there. My first impression of American gyms was not so good: they put me in the ring with a guy who had much more experience than me. I found out that this happens often. To test a prospect, they ask him to spar a few rounds with a local boxer that maybe fought for the world title a month before. They don’t warn the prospect that he is facing a tough customer. Anyway, I won my first professional match (on points) in July 1983. When I went back to Italy, the FPI suspended me for a year and a half. That’s why my second fight was in October 1985. After having fought 63 professional bouts and made a lot of money, I’m convinced that an Italian fighter must go to the United States, if only to earn a purse he cannot earn here. But with a good promoter, an Italian boxer can win major titles and make money staying in Europe.

Alessandro Duran

Born on February 5, 1965 in Ferrara, a town in the Emilia Romagna region of Central Italy

Division: Welterweight

Stance: Orthodox

Height: 178

Trainer: his brother Massimiliano.

Record: 51 wins (16 KOs) and 12 losses

Italian champion (4 times)

1st Reign: from 25 October 1989 to 28 April 1990

2nd Reign: from July 10, 1991 to November 20, 1992

3rd Reign: from May 28, 1993 to July 28, 1995

4th Reign: from January 11, 1996 to August 17, 1996

WBU world champion (2 times)

1st Reign: from October 26, 1996 to July 30, 1997

2nd Reign: from November 17, 1997 to May 4, 1998

European champion (3 times)

1st Reign: from April 24, 1999 to October 16, 1999

2nd Reign: from March 18, 2000 to November 3, 2000

3rd Reign: from May 4, 2001 to January 18, 2002

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

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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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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