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Articles of 2006

Tom Andrews: America’s Greatest Boxing Authority

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Thomas Stora Andrews didn’t drink, smoke or carouse, but the man affectionately known as “Parson Tom” had as much reason to celebrate the New Year 1905 as anyone high on the beer that made Milwaukee famous.

At 32, Andrews was a popular and respected figure in the city he moved to from his native Canada with his parents when he was a year old. As a boy he played baseball and basketball on local amateur teams, but at 5’8” and barely 130 pounds, an athletic career wasn’t in the cards, and a job as a Western Union messenger led Andrews into the newspaper game. He eventually became sports editor of The Evening Wisconsin newspaper, one of five major dailies in Milwaukee in the early 20th century.

Milwaukee was then one of the country's top boxing venues, thanks in large part to Andrews’ efforts at boosting the sport not only in his newspaper but also as matchmaker for the city's first professional boxing organization, The Badger Athletic Club.

Tom Andrews wasn’t just a big fish in a small pond. Two years earlier, the first ‘T.S. Andrews Sporting Annual’ had been published to great acclaim by boxing fans all over the world. It was a pocket-size compendium of sports data that included the records of about 60 professional boxers. The third edition, expanded and due out in January, 1905, would solidify the reputation of its author as, to quote from the opening page of Andrews’ record books, “America’s Greatest Boxing Authority.”

As 1905 dawned, things were also looking bright for George Lawler. A decade earlier, Lawler was a boilermaker who earned free drinks in Milwaukee taverns by breaking one-inch pine boards with his bare fists for the entertainment of the other customers. Encouraged to try his luck in the prize ring, the 6’3” heavyweight found the going considerably tougher when his targets punched back. Lawler lost more than he won, and was stopped by Ed Dunkhorst, Gus Ruhlin, middleweight champion Tommy Ryan, and in 10 rounds by future heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.

In his only hometown bout, on December 9, 1899, Lawler lost a six-round decision to Klondyke Haynes in what the Milwaukee Journal called “one of the worst exhibitions of ring generalship ever seen.”

But in the summer of 1904, Lawler put together a modest winning streak in a series of bouts in small towns in northern Wisconsin. The reason for this, it turned out, was that the guy in the other corner for most of them was Charles Lawler, George’s brother, fighting under a variety of assumed names.

The purpose of these fights was to raise the money necessary for George to begin his life anew. At age 30, he had decided to put boxing behind him and start over in a new, more respected profession. In the fall of 1904, Lawler enrolled in the Milwaukee Medical College to begin studying to become a physician.

A celebrity to the younger students, Lawler played for the medical college football team and seemed to have left his old life and image behind for good – until he opened The Evening Wisconsin of January 3, 1905, and read in that day’s digest of boxing news:

“James J. Jeffries has wired to George Lawler asking him to join his troupe in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday night and act as his sparring partner. It is probable he will accept, though he is now pursuing his studies at the Milwaukee Medical College. Lawler is the husky weight who has been bush fighting around the copper country for a year in order to get the money necessary to carry him through a course of medical study.”

Two items later, another paragraph reported that Lawler had decided to remain in school and not “become a punching bag” for the heavyweight champion of the world. But thanks to the first report, George Lawler decided he had a little fight left in him after all.

In the late afternoon of January 5, Tom Andrews and several companions were leaving Barnickel’s gym at the Broadway Armory in downtown Milwaukee after watching lightweight Willie Fitzgerald train when out of the shadows stepped the Lawler brothers.

“I want to speak to you for a minute, Tom,” said George.

Andrews’ friends went outside to wait for him. Then George Lawler steered the diminutive editor toward a dark corner and, without warning, punched Andrews in the face. Lawler had seven inches and about 70 pounds on him, and Andrews’ lights went right out. But that didn’t keep the bigger man from straddling his prostrated body and smashing him several more times in the face, as Charles stood by and watched.

After several minutes, Andrews’ friends came back inside to see what was keeping him, arriving in time to see Lawler kick the unconscious Andrews in the face and yell, “Now, you son of a bitch, if you have me pinched I’ll kick the top of your head off!”

The brutal assault of Tom Andrews outraged the community. As he recuperated in bed from injuries that included several broken teeth, facial lacerations and badly swollen eyes, the Milwaukee Press Club met in emergency session and passed a resolution urging that Lawler be “punished for such an unexampled exhibition of cowardice and brutality.”

The Chamber of Commerce followed suit, and all the newspapers ran editorials decrying the attack the Milwaukee Journal called “a disgrace to the city.”

According to The Evening Wisconsin the day after the beating, “Public sentiment this morning was very strong against the perpetrator of the brutal assault against Mr. Andrews, and there were expressions of great indignation heard in the hotel lobbies and at the street corners. Offers of assistance to prosecute the accused man to the fullest extent of the law were made by a number of well known attorneys and some of the more radical openly expressed their desire to take the law in their own hands if the fellow secured bond.”

The details of the assault were repeated again and again with increasing abhorrence that any man could be so lost to reason and right as to beat and bruise a man of Mr. Andrews’ character. Not only among the sporting fraternity was the feeling of resentment and abhorrence felt, but among all classes of citizens, for Mr. Andrews is well known and respected by a large circle of friends.

“…Mr. Andrews’ friends state that they never have seen him in an offensive attitude, and even among Lawler’s pugilistic friends the severest criticism is rife.”

Charged with assault with intent to commit serious bodily harm and suspended from the Milwaukee Medical College, Lawler was more belligerent than repentant.

“Andrews was ‘knocking’ me all the time in his paper, and I got sore at him,” he explained. “He said that I made my expense money for college ‘bush fighting’ through the copper country. It wasn’t so. I asked him to let up on me and quit connecting my name with the ring.

“I’m sorry I did it, but I can’t see any reason why I should keep my hands off him just because he’s smaller than I, as long as he keeps knocking me.”

Lawler could have gotten up to three years in the slam, but for four months his lawyers kept getting postponements of his trial. When the judge wearied of that, they asked to have Lawler’s trial moved outside of Milwaukee on the grounds that the newspapers had whipped up so much sentiment against him it would be impossible to find 12 local citizens willing to give him a fair shake.

On May 12, for the first time in the history of Milwaukee jurisprudence a judge personally interviewed each of the 41 members of that day’s jury pool to determine their ability to stand in judgment. When none indicated any prejudice against a former prize fighter, the motion for a change of venue was denied, a jury was seated and the trial of George Lawler finally got underway.

It was over that same day, because in return for a guilty plea to assault and battery, the more serious charge against Lawler was dropped after one of his lawyers urged the judge to take into consideration that “the defendant has shown strength of character enough to renounce his former pugilistic life.”

He was sentenced to four months in the House of Correction, but when his lawyers asked that Lawler do his time instead in the county jail so he could continue his medical studies, the judge agreed. “Powerful influences have been at work for the prize fighter ever since his arrest,” dourly noted the Milwaukee Free Press.

T.S. Andrews recovered from his injuries and went on to greater fame as a boxing writer, record keeper and matchmaker (he was the first matchmaker at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles when it opened in 1925). “Boxers seeking bouts or information about opponents frequently would address letters to ‘Mr. Andrews, U.S.A.,’ and he always received them without delay,” said The Milwaukee Journal upon his death in 1941 at age 72.

Largely in recognition of his pioneering work as a boxing journalist (his record books were published annually into the late 1930s, and are still prized by collectors), in 1992 Andrews was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, in the “Non-Participant” category.

As for George Lawler, records at what is now the Wisconsin Medical College show that he graduated in 1908. He did his doctoring, like his bush fighting, in northern Wisconsin.

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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