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Articles of 2006

Boxing in Thailand – What’s the Deal?

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For as long as boxing has been around, there have always been set-ups; that is, fights against tomato cans. Some fights are between decent fighters and hapless wannabes with no chance in hell of winning and others are between good fighters and fighters seemingly on the payroll, so to speak. Thai fighters are regularly criticized for the caliber of their opponents, often justifiably so. Thailand isn’t the only country this takes place though; Mexico, the Philippines, Japan and Korea all have fighters who take tune-ups against less than stellar opponents.

In March of 2003, the Philippines beloved Manny Pacquiao faced Serikzhan Yeshmangbetov (5-5-1, 3 KOs) in Manila. Never heard of Serikzhan Yeshmangbetov? Not many have, but the Kazakhstani fighter actually scored a knockdown in the fourth round. Pacman dispatched of Yeshmangbetov the fifth.

Korean champion In Jin Chi faced the 2 wins 3 losses Thongcharoen Mahasap Condo of Thailand around the same time in Korea. Chi was 26-2 and the bout was a tune-up for his shot at the vacant WBC featherweight championship fight against Michael Brodie. Chi took the Thai out in four.

Thongcharoen Mahasap Condo was also the opponent for Japan’s Takashi Koshimoto. Koshimoto is scheduled to meet In Jin Chi on the 29th of this month for the WBC featherweight title. Koshimoto was 34-1-2 when he fought Thoncharoen Mahasap, who was 2-6. The bout before this Koshimoto faced Ratanasak Saktawee, 3-3, of Thailand.

Back in 1999, the great Marco Antonio Barrera, who was 49-2 at the time, squared off against Cesar Najera, 2-1. The bout was declared a non-contest after Najera was discovered to be his sparring partner.

Thailand isn’t the only place you see ridiculous fights and mismatches…

The fight scene in Asia, and more specifically Thailand, is not quite the same as in North America or Europe. The first and most notable difference is the majority of fight cards in Thailand are free to spectators, both live and on TV. Also, aside from the occasional soccer or cricket match, there are no pay-per-view events in Thailand. Pay-per view fights are shown on Thai TV or cable channels such as Super Sport. ESPN Friday Night Fights, Classic fights, and the old USA Tuesday night fights are shown on various cable channels but most importantly, boxing in Thailand is still shown on a regular basis on Thai TV.

In the past, the only three sports in Thailand were boxing, Muay Thai and soccer. Now with sports like snooker, tennis, weightlifting, bodybuilding and badminton taking a share of the market, promoters need to be more creative and work even harder to make a profit.

The free shows and televised events keep boxing fans in touch with the fight scene and their favorite fighters, allowing promoters to build the name of their fighters as well are their own. Revenues are generated from sponsors like Red Bull (Energy drink), M-150 (Energy drink), Twins (Boxing and Muay Thai equipment), 3K Battery (Batteries) and a few others. These sponsors donate their products and envelopes of cash to the fighters in exchange for invaluable publicity.

Boxing is and always has been a business. Promoters know they need to get more than just one or two fights out of their fighter in order to make the sort of money that keeps them solvent. In order to do so, promoters need to milk the cash cow dry. Fighters have a limited period of earning potential which can end at any time; promoters have no guarantee of how long that period will be so they need to protect their investment and maximize their profits.

While boxers in North America and Europe fight once or twice, possibly three times per year, most Thais fight an average of three to six fights per year. One or two of the opponents might be classified as worthy adversaries with the rest being tune-ups. Herein lies the dilemma; just what is an acceptable tune-up?

Unfortunately what is deemed acceptable by promoters and what is deemed acceptable by fans is not always one in the same. Thais are repeatedly given opponents who have little chance of defeating them in between their big fights or title defenses. This helps get the needed rounds of work in with little to no risk of blowing the bigger and better paydays that lie ahead. They acquire real-fight experience while at the same time remaining in the public eye and hopefully making money for the promoter.

The downside to this approach is this real-fight experience is always gained from within the confines of Thailand and against fighters “on the payroll.” On the payroll simply means promoters know they can use certain fighters over and over again without having to worry about them disrupting their plans. They are journeymen who tend to lose far more than they win or who are willing to fight against a Thai who they know is far better than them.

Thais have a habit of losing when outside of Asia and this approach is at least one reason why. In Thailand, the opponents are predominately from the Philippines with others coming from Africa, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and China. A closer inspection of the Thai fighter’s records reveals many of the same opponents. For instance, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam has fought and defeated Mark Sales of the Philippines three times. Sales has fought Fahlan Sakreerin, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pramuansak Posuwan (twice), Sairun Suwansil and Sod Looknongyangtoy, all within an eighteen month period, defeating none of them.

Fighters with no recorded, verifiable fights on their ledger from China, Kazakhstan and even Japan have taken on top ranked fighters and champions, and in some instances they’ve even fought for ABCO (WBC) and World titles. Matching a fighter who has less than five or ten fights against a former world champion who has sixty or seventy fights isn’t considered a tune-up in most cases; it’s regarded as a mismatch. Perhaps Jose Sulaiman can explain how this equates to his dedication to safety in boxing.

So what’s the deal with the Thais and mismatches?

I wish I knew…

One More Thing

The sanctioning bodies of boxing are often, and very deservedly, ripped to miniscule shreds by fans and the media. Once in a great while they may actually do something good for the sport, however these instances are few and far between; they almost always deserve far worse than the toothless tongue-lashing they receive. In the last few years, the WBC and El Presidente Sulaiman have often been the target of many a journalist, but the other organizations are equally shameless as is illustrated by the recent actions of the IBF.

According to the Herald News of New Jersey, the International Boxing Flunkies withheld its sanctioning fee from the late Leavander Johnson's purse. Johnson, the proud warrior who died in his very first defense against Jesus Chavez, paid out 3% ($4500) of his $150,000 purse to the IBF. Instead of showing a smidgeon of compassion and bestowing the fee to the fund established to benefit Johnson’s four children, the Imaginary Boxing Federation callously kept the fee. Considering all the skullduggery the IBF has engaged in over the years, $4500 would have been a small price to pay to exhibit some kindness on the part of their organization.

Upcoming Fights

January 9, 2006 – Pacifico, Yokohama, Japan

Eagle Kyowa vs. Ken Nakajima
WBC Minimumweight Title

Katsushige Kawashima vs. Petchklongpai Sor Thantip

January 15, 2006 – IMP Hall, Osaka, Japan

Nobuto Ikehara vs. Medgoen Singsurat

January 17, 2006 – Bangkok, Thailand

Denkaosan Kaovichit vs. Jojo Bardon

January 21, 2006 – Las Vegas, NV, USA

Erik Morales vs. Manny Pacquiao
WBC International Super Featherweight Title
WBC Super Featherweight Title Eliminator

January 25, 2006 – Amnartcharoen, Thailand

Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo vs. Nathan Barcelona

Pongsith Wiangwiset vs. Jesus Mazuka

January 29, 2006 – Kyuden Gym, Fukuoka, Japan

In Jin Chi vs. Takashi Koshimoto
WBC Featherweight Title

January 31, 2006 – Bangkok, Thailand

Kaichon Sor Vorapin vs. Rocky Fuentes

February 27, 2006 – Central Gym, Osaka, Japan

Masamori Tokuyama vs. Jose Navarro
WBC Super Flyweight Title

March 4, 2006 – Tenggarong City, Borneo Island, Indonesia

Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Chris John
WBA Featherweight Title

March 18, 2006 – Manila, Philippines

Z Gorres vs. Waenpetch Chuwatana
Vacant OPBF Super Flyweight Title

March 25, 2006 – World Memorial Hall, Kobe, Japan

Hozumi Hasegawa vs. TBA
WBC Bantamweight Title

Results

January 7, 2006 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

Jorge Linares KO1 Jeffrey Onate

December 30, 2005 – Talibon, Bohol, PI

Bart Abapo TKO6 Rex Marzan
Philippine Light Welterweight Title

December 28, 2005 – Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, PI

Wilfredo Neri KO7 Cris Besmanus
Philippine Super Bantamweight Title

December 27, 2005 – Chumphon, Thailand

Pramuansak Posuwan UD12 Anthony Mathias
Vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight Title

Terdsak Jandaeng UD6 Hussein Pazzi

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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