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Articles of 2006

Losing Big in Atlantic City

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There’s little as thrilling as leaving the safe confines of New York City behind and venturing into the big bad world in search of boxing. With that spirit of adventure in mind, The Sweet Science’s Zachary Levin and I decided several weeks ago to travel to Atlantic City for last weekend’s fistic doubleheader by the seashore, Friday night’s card at the Tropicana headlined by Virgil Hill, followed by Saturday’s clash between Arturo Gatti and Thomas Damgaard at Boardwalk Hall.

As it is with most affairs of this sort for boxing writers in the new, but feeling old fast, millennium, it took dozens of phone calls, emails and, yes, even faxes (that’s the fight game for you), to arrange credentials, transportation, room reservations and whatnot. Zach Levin, a loyal aide-de-camp if there ever was one, did the dirty work and arranged one night at the Tropicana for $95, a special in-house bargain for journalists covering the fight, and the next night at Bally’s for $125, a reduced rate again for the boxing press, at a ritzier hotel/casino on the boardwalk.

We took a bus from the New York Port Authority on 42nd Street and two hours later, disoriented from riding in a vehicle whose windows were too smudged with dirt to see through, arrived in Atlantic City. We disembarked at the bus loading depot of the Trump Hotel/Casino, where we redeemed, if that’s the proper word, our $30 bus tickets for a Trump Casino credit card embossed with our names and $15 in cash to pour into the slots. Thanks a million, Donald. You’re hired.

Zach and I were weighted down by the detritus accruing to true journalists: changes of clothes to look good (the big fights are like the Oscars, sans red carpet and Joan Rivers), camera gear (for that hoped for riot and Pulitzer Prize winning photo), and, of course, the laptop, every writer’s best friend and worst enemy, that essential link to the outside world from the desert island privations of our profession and ambition.

With all that baggage in tow, we left the Trump Casino, hit the boardwalk and the smell of salt water was like a slap in the face. We turned right and started heading toward the Trop. Zach and I passed Boardwalk Hall, a fantastic art deco pile that was in the film Snake Eyes, Brian De Palma’s “boxing movie,” his homage to paranoia, political assassination and fixed fights. Then we hit an expanse of empty lots interspersed with teensy strip malls offering taffy, fudge and backrubs.

The Tropicana, we discovered, is on the wrong side of the boardwalk tracks, but it was where Friday’s card was being held, so it would do. Neither of us are gambling men, so when we entered the casino we worked our way as quickly as possible through the stale air, bells and whistles, lights and action, smoke and mirrors, polyester and flop sweat in the joint. Zach and I found the hotel lobby, which was vaguely fancy-shmancy with potted palms like a lobby in an old-time movie palace, but with real low ceilings, because it was on street level, below the boardwalk level, beneath the casino, just spitting distance from the empty sidewalk. We stood in line with noisy foreigners, all of them American-born and living in the States, so that we might check in and get a room.

A young lady assisted us and it only took fifteen minutes. Mission accomplished, we made it to the room, and before unpacking, before checking the view (it was a parking lot), before doing anything, I pulled out the laptop, turned that sucker on, and got back to the business of running The Sweet Science. But there was one small problem. The room, which was supposed to have wireless, had nothing. I couldn’t get onto the internet.

For those who don’t run websites, trust me when I tell you that not being able to log into the internet is an experience just short of death. And not because I couldn’t click onto girlie-man chat rooms or Google the history of burlesque in Atlantic City, but because a slew of great writers and hip fight fans were dependent on TSS’s being here now, and the flow of information, constant even when things are slow, accelerates during big fight boxing weekends.

Zachary spotted my distress – I might as well have been wearing a sign around my neck – and called the front desk to see what was up with the lack of online service. He was put on hold, transferred, put on hold and transferred once again, only to end up where he started. Then he was put on hold. Then the line went dead.

We decided to forgo the internet and get our credentials for the Friday night fights first. It was still late in the afternoon so there was no mob scene to impede getting what we needed. Zach decided to scope the arena and make sure everything was alright with our seats, never a certainty in this day and age, while I returned to the front desk to bitch and moan, but to try to do it nice.

Standing in a line I was standing in only an hour ago, I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of the gal who checked us in and she waved me over. I just started in with “How do you expect working journalists here from New York to cover tonight’s fight to file stories without an internet connection?” when she smiled and said, “Let me talk to my manager.” In less than a minute she returned as accommodating as could be. We were being moved out of the North Tower, the second-class tower, I learned, the tower without internet, into Havana Tower, which was a lot less funky than where we were, and which was rumored to be wired.

Havana Tower rises invisibly over a faux Cuban square with a fountain surrounded by wrought iron benches. Nearby, a 1950s American car painted in candy colors, like what you might see in old Havana, stands out like a sore thumb, and overpriced shops filled with nothing of consequence sparkle their worthlessness for pod people with good credit. Feeling not at home but even less like a visitor, I was pleased to discover, once I scurried to the room and triple-locked the hollow door, that there was a DSL cable I could hook into that actually worked. I called Zach on his cell and told him the good news. He sounded as relieved as I felt.

I needn’t describe Friday’s bouts in detail. Zach took care of that in exemplary style with his “Pay-Per-Screwed, Live from The Tropicana!” He wrote way into the wee hours of the morning, before waking me at five to start editing before posting, at which time he went to sleep.

Absorbed as usual in the task at hand, I lost all track of time. I vaguely remembered this bubbling, gurgling noise coming from somewhere, but was too busy to pay it much mind. At some point I remember peeling my eyes from the screen, leaning back in my chair, and seeing what looked like a large blood stain at the foot of Zach’s bed. I wasn’t sure if I was sleep-deprived, or if I slipped into a Barton Fink moment, but I glanced over at Zach, he was breathing, he was alive, so I got back to work.

After editing and posting Zach’s article, and preparing the next two articles to go online, I decided to take a breather and go out to the boardwalk, to take a look at Atlantic City in the daylight. AC, like Las Vegas, is a place better seen at night, except that Atlantic City looks a thousand times worse: spectacularly ugly buildings towering over low-rise keepsakes of another era surrounded by rubble-strewn lots of abandoned dream projects.

At that hour of the morning the boardwalk was almost empty. There was the rare jogger, the rare homeless person, the rare suicidal staggering drunk, but at that time of day, with the sun still low in the sky, the boardwalk is owned by the gulls. Big, loud, ugly, nasty-looking birds, their hard black eyes look at the world like it was a piece of fish. I took a moment to consider the seabirds on the boardwalk, the seabirds on the railings, the seabirds in flight – and they acted like they were kamikaze pilots and I was Pearl Harbor. Concerned for my safety, worried about my dry cleaning tab, I ran for cover in the casino and returned to the room.

Zach was awake when I arrived. He was standing at the bathroom door and staring at the floor. “What’s up?” I asked. “There was some kind of problem last night with the toilet,” he said. “I vaguely remember hearing this gurgling noise.” I looked at the bathroom floor, which to my amazement was six inches deep in white and pink soap bubbles. I couldn’t friggin’ believe it. Neither could Zach. He called the front desk to have them send up a plumber. I corralled a maid in the hall and told her there was a tsunami of soap bubbles coming from the toilet.

After housekeeping and a plumber arrived, cleaned and corrected the mess, Zach asked what the problem was. He was told that someone in the bathroom room above ours took a bubble bath which overflowed in our toilet.

We checked out of the Trop and trudged toward Bally’s for our Saturday digs. We walked past Boardwalk Hall again, toward a better part of Atlantic City, although only separated by a few blocks. Bally’s wasn’t as low rent as the Trop. The scale was still airport scale, but even bigger, overwhelming, overpowering, but there was a relatively understated, for Atlantic City, faux Greco-Roman feel to the lobby and the room, which was agreeable.

Once we were checked in by a young Filipino woman, the routine was pretty much the same as before: unpack the computer, don’t take a breath, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, hurry up and get to work, a never-ending flow of text was calling my name. We were told that this room, which looked out on a roof garden instead of a concrete car park, had wireless, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it, so I called the front desk.

I was told that Bally’s did indeed have wireless service, but I had to come down to the front desk and pay $9.95 in advance for 24 hours of use. It seemed a bit stingy to wheedle ten bucks for something so cheap and simple as use of a wireless connection, but I had no choice but to comply. I went down to the front desk, paid my dime, and returned to the room to get to work. I tested the wireless – and couldn’t get a signal. I tried again and again and again. Running out of ideas and patience at about equal measure and the same time, I called the front desk, this time to complain, and was told there must have been some kind of misunderstanding: “Bally’s doesn’t have wireless, it has DSL, and there’s a cable in the room.” “Where?” I asked. “Behind the TV,” I was told.

The TV was one of those big fat ancient TVs, not plasma anorexic thin like it ought to be in ‘06, but one of those beefed-up old school numbers, a cathode ray tube weighing a ton and as cumbersome as a doghouse. It was wedged into a corner on top of a heavy TV console with doors and shelves, a console designed specifically to be wedged into a corner. Peering around that baby, an inch here, an inch there, on my knees, standing on a chair, I couldn’t see a thing. I turned on the lights in the room and opened all the drapes. It was still dark as hell, spooky, like Venusburg at twilight. I was sure Zach had a flashlight in his knapsack, or at the very least he’d be able to spot that elusive DSL in a New York minute and that would be that, but he was doing his thing, running on the sand, and I was doing mine, and at that moment I wouldn’t have minded trading places.

Zach arrived. I explained the dilemma. He looked for the DSL and found nothing. I called the front desk and they told me they’d send a Bally’s technician to the room. He arrived half an hour later and was a friendly guy with a mop of dark hair and a low-key disposition. We didn’t mind having him around, he was a light presence in a dark room, but he couldn’t find the DSL cable either. “Where is that darn thing?” he kept asking. “It’s gotta be here somewhere.”

It wasn’t until he moved the customized cabinet with the whale of a TV on it – Zach must have helped, it was a two man job – that he discovered a scrunched piece of metal and wire covered in balls of dust. He examined it and declared that it must have once been a connector box for a DSL cable. “It looks like no one ever used this before,” the tech guy said. “How the hell did it get under there?”

He said he needed some tools, he’d be back soon, and left the room. Zach started jumping rope. I tried opening a window, but it was soldered shut. The good-natured Bally’s guy returned with his tools and did his thing. With pliers he twisted the abstract mini sculpture into a semblance of its former self as a DSL connector box and cable. Smiling and shaking his head at the absurdity of life, he told us, “I’m really a welder. I just do this on weekends.”

He got the DSL hooked up. I plugged it into the computer, and although the line was good, the screen kept saying there was some kind of ERROR, TRY AGAIN. So I tried again, and again. I told the tech, who was packing his stuff, about the ERROR, TRY AGAIN window on the screen and asked what he would do if he were in my position. He said there was a special phone number I should call – he pointed to an embossed steel plate attached to the TV cable – that would activate the internet in the room. Then he said “Good luck” and left.

I dialed the toll free number and it connected me to a Bangladeshi who swore he was in Las Vegas. The gent walked me though what we needed to do several times (you know the procedure – if that doesn’t work, we’ll try this – the dog chasing its tail routine), doing everything humanly possible to activate the internet. According to the Bangladeshi, no one had ever used the internet in this room at Bally’s before. I took in the news, but didn’t feel like a pioneer; no, I felt out of step, out of synch, out of time and my mind, like I’d been teleported to an earlier era.

But I was finally, gratefully, after more hassles than I could count and more help than I would have ever dreamed necessary, back online and ready to get back to work – with a little time to spare before Gatti-Damgaard. Then, not five minutes into my jubilation, I got an email that said The Sweet Science was down in the nation’s capitol. Damn! Down in DC! What will George Bush do now? I clicked on TSS and it was gone, all right, vanished, disappeared, a great big nothing zero. I’m a content guy, not a tech guy, and all I could do was pass on the bad news. Then more emails started arriving: Nashville, New York, Milan, Bangkok – all down, no Sweet Science, my whole wide world wide web in shambles.

To our chagrin here at TSS, the website was down for two days – and during a big east coast boxing weekend, no less. I did all I could. Zachary Levin did all he could (“House of Gatti Still Standing After Weathering Storm) and then some. The snafu was, as the saying goes, due to circumstances beyond our control. To those who missed us when we were gone, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, et cetera and all that jazz, here’s hoping it won’t happen again.

To those who thought The Sweet Science was not only down but out, think again.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

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

Other bouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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

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

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

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

Featherweight

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

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

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

Jr. Bantamweight

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

Flyweight

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

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

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

Boxing in Thailand

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

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

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

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

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

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

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

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