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Articles of 2006

Massimiliano Duran, the Best Italian Cruiserweight Ever

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Massimiliano Duran can legitimately be considered the best Italian cruiserweight ever because he was the only boxer good enough to win the WBC world championship against a great champion like Carlos De Leon. Son of legendary Juan Carlos Duran, Massimiliano has always been part of the boxing community. Unlike his father, he was subject to hard criticism when he decided to become a prizefighter. Many people in Italy thought that he would get nowhere. Massimiliano proved them wrong by becoming Italian, European and WBC world cruiserweight champion. Between 1986 and 1994, he compiled a record of 19 wins (8 KOs) and 6 losses. Let’s hear his story in his own words.

Massimiliano, tell us about the fight against Carlos De Leon.

It was a very tough match, but I knew it from the beginning because Carlos De Leon had been WBC champion for a long time and had fought WBA/IBF champion Evander Holyfield for the undisputed crown. After losing to Holyfield (TKO 8), the Puerto Rican had beaten Sammy Reeson (TKO 9) for the vacant WBC belt and had defended it against Johnny Nelson (a draw). Carlos De Leon was in top shape and nobody thought that I could win. I trained really hard and was ready for a war. When the match started, De Leon’s first move was putting his finger into my eye. I understood that he was ready to do anything to keep his title. As the fight progressed, he used every illegal technique you can think of; he even put his thumb into my throat. During the 11th round, he put his right arm around me and threw a left hook at my face; I saw it coming and tried to avoid it by falling to the mat. Even if the Puerto Rican didn’t hit me, the referee considered it a knockdown and started the count. I got up immediately and hit De Leon with a series of uppercuts to the body. He understood that the more he hit me, the more I was willing to answer back with my own punches. Then he got enraged and hit me after the bell. He didn’t hurt me, but I realized that I could capitalize on his mistake and I put my knee down on the canvas. I was aiming to get a point deduction, but I got much more: the referee did nothing and the WBC official told him to diqualify De Leon. Probably, the WBC supervisor was fed up to see De Leon get away with everything and said Enough is enough! It would have been better for my career if they let the match continue. I was ahead on points and would have won the last round too. After 11 rounds, two judges scored in my favor (110-107 and 109-107), while the third one saw it a draw (105-105). Nobody can deny that I legitimately won the WBC belt, but you know that a disqualification win always brings controversy. While I was training, my father had told me to be ready for any kind of illegal tactics because anything can happen when a world title is on the line (especially in those days, when there were only three respected organizations). I’m not complaining because I think that an highlevel boxer must be prepared to deal even with dirty tricks. I’m not putting down Carlos De Leon either, his career proves inequivocably that he has been a great champion. Between 1974 and 1995, he compiled a record of 52 wins (32 KOs), 8 losses and 1 draw. He kept himself at the top for ten years, reigning as WBC cruiserweight champion four times (1980-1982, 1983-1985, 1986-1988, 1989-1990) and defending the title against top opposition.

You won by DQ against Anaclet Wamba too.

Yes. It was my first defense of the WBC belt. We fought in Ferrara on December 8, 1990. Anaclet Wamba used every dirty trick in the book against me. I watched the tape and counted how many times Wamba headbutted me: 12! As a matter of fact, I needed 57 stitches on my head when the fight was over. The referee should have disqualified him in the early rounds, but he kept the match going. Wamba was deducted five points before they went and waved the fight off. I don’t understand why they stopped the fight in the final stanza, with just a few seconds before the bell. After 11 rounds, I was ahead on two scorecards. The fight generated so much controversy that a rematch was logical. It happened on July 20, 1991 in Palermo. During the first round, Wamba cut my forehead and I started bleeding. My cornermen tried everything, but couldn’t stop the blood. In the 11th round, I was too weak from the loss of blood and from the heat (well over 100 degrees) to continue and and I turned toward my corner. The photo of the ring covered with my blood was published even by Japanese newspapers. This led to a third battle. It happened on December 13, 1991 in Paris. I got the news only a month before, but I accepted because I wanted my revenge. Unfortunately, I lost by 11th round TKO.

Was Anaclet Wamba your toughest opponent?

He was as difficult as Carlos De Leon. I fought Anaclet Wamba three times because we were the best in the cruiserweight division and we guaranteed an exciting fight. We put up real wars and they were always close. You don’t fight against the same opponent three times if the previous matches weren’t close. Anaclet Wamba can be considered among the best French boxers ever. Between 1982 and 1995 he built a record of 46 wins (23 KOs), 2 losses and 1 draw. He held the WBC title for more than three years (1991-1994), successfully defending it seven times.

After your second loss to Anaclet Wamba, many journalists thought you were finished. You proved them wrong by becoming European champion.

I always proved them wrong. From the beginning I faced harsh criticism. I had the same problem as Sumbu Kalambay and many other Italian fighters: nobody believed in me. But I didn’t pay attention to the critics, kept training very hard and reached my goal. As for the European title, I’m proud of it because I defeated a top rated boxer like Derek Angol, who was feared for his punching power. He compiled a record of 27 wins, 22 coming by KO, with just 2 losses. In England he was very popular, having won the Commonwealth and British titles. Unfortunately, as many other power punchers, he had a suspect chin. He got knocked out by Tyrone Booze (the vacant WBO title was on the line) and by Akim Tafer (for the Euro belt). I faced him in Ferrara, on June 22, 1993. I gave my best and won by 11th round KO.  

Are you still involved in the boxing business?

Yes, I run the family’s gym in Ferrara, with my brother Alessandro. We promote 7 to 8 amateur events a year. We love to invite foreign champions, to give our amateurs the opportunity to fight against boxers with different styles. Right now, we are negotiating to bring a major national team to our next big event: the Juan Carlos Duran Memorial Tournament.

Massimiliano Duran

Born on November 3, 1963 in Ferrara (Italy)

Division: Cruiserweight

Stance: Orthodox

Height: 188 cm

Trainer: Juan Carlos Duran (his father)

Record: 19 wins (8 KOs) and 6 losses

Pro activity: between 1986 and 1994

Italian champion

He defeated Alfredo Cacciatore (TKO 10), on November 4, 1989 in Ferrara

WBC world champion

He beat Carlos De Leon (DQ 11), on July 27, 1990 in Capo d’Orlando (Sicily)

He defended the belt against Anaclet Wamba (DQ 12), on December 8, 1990 in Ferrara

He lost the belt against Anaclet Wamba (TKO 11), on July 20, 1991 in Palermo

European champion

He defeated Derek Angol (KO 11), on June 22, 1993 in Ferrara

He lost the title against Carl Thompson (KO 8), on February 2, 1994 in Ferrara

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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