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Articles of 2006

Nasty Boyz

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Stick too many people in too small a space, lock the door, have the walls slowly start to close in, and you are bound to see some very nasty behavior. This not only more or less seems to happen everyday on our beloved New York City subway, but also in the incredibly shrinking world of boxing.

ESPN’s Brian Kenny proudly slammed “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather Jr. last week during their “Friday Night Fights” verbal bout over Mayweather’s April 8 contest with Zab Judah being billed as a world title fight, with Judah’s tainted IBF belt on the line. Kenny spread equal blame to promoters and fighters for this charade – somehow he failed to mention the television networks – to which Mayweather responded, “I don’t make the rules in boxing.”

Hey Brian, this fight is for the IBF belt, not the PBF (Pretty Boy Floyd) belt, and as absurd as that may be, this may at present be Mayweather’s best chance at earning big pay-per-view bucks. And fighters have much shorter windows for these opportunities for major paydays than do announcers.

Somehow there were no protestations, on-air at least, by the garrulous crew of ESPN2 – whose parent network does help “make the rules in boxing” – about what happened on their Monday night “Contenders” special in the main event between Peter Manfredo Jr. and Scott Pemberton.

Manfredo came into this fight with a record of 24-3 with only 11 KOs, and no stoppages in the last two years. This is not exactly the record of a renowned knockout artist, especially since he has not fought much top opposition. The 39-year-old Pemberton had been noticeably slurring his words in his pre-fight interviews on these same shows as Kenny’s orations, which drew no yelling or even commentary, of course. Plus, Manfredo has usually been fighting as a junior middleweight, while Pemberton has been campaigning as a super middleweight, again a supposed advantage for Pemberton.

In their fight, however, Manfredo destroyed Pemberton in three rounds, about as badly as IBF champ Jeff Lacy had done just this past November. When the announcers would note how well Manfredo was landing his right, he would land with lefts as well. Two knockdowns into round three, Manfredo began pounding an almost defenseless Pemberton, and referee Dick Flaherty wisely stopped it.

Even before the stoppage, Pemberton was mainly weakly flailing his hands out in no particular direction, certainly not at Manfredo. After the fight, Pemberton slurred his way through yet another interview.

I’m still waiting for some analysis, nasty or otherwise, from “your boxing authority.”

These guys also never fail to remind us that they recognize The Ring’s belts. That’s some good news for the magazine since they initiated a rather nasty word war with the bulk of the boxing media which does not grant their staff such authority, and has elicited a round of sometimes nasty rebuttals.

Ring editor Nigel Collins wrote on their website, in a piece also reproduced elsewhere, that “bickering between boxing writers isn’t normally worthy of space in the magazine or on our Web site.”

You can guess the next word: “But the appearance of two recent anti-Ring screeds has necessitated a response” [emphasis added – EG]. He mainly tries to rebuff those who still bring up the 1977 Ring-ABC-Don King tournament scandal, pointing out that no one from that period has been associated with The Ring for decades.

In my critique of The Ring on this site last week on this issue, called “Should Titles Be Won in the Ring or in The Ring?”  –  which he either failed to read, perhaps since I’m not a newspaper guy or because it appeared on that newfangled gizmo called the Internet, or he did read it and thought it was better than these “screeds” – I purposely did not raise that old 1977 scandal. There were far too many contemporary objections to what they have been doing to have included this, although the point that handing over the belts to just one commercial magazine makes corruption more likely is a valid one.

Collins concluded, “The success or failure of The Ring and its policies will be determined by the very people who pay the salaries of all of us involved, the boxing consumer. And if there is one thing I am absolutely positive of, it’s that the fans are totally fed up with the status quo. I’m content to let them be the final judge, and allow the critics to do what they do best-complain.”

Hey Nigel, quit bellyaching that some other writers fired back at articles calling out the boxing media for not being volunteer p.r. guys for your business plan. When you start a fight, your nose might get bloodied. You would think that “The Bible of Boxing” would know that about fighting, be it verbal or otherwise.

The response to my piece last week was overwhelmingly positive. One message, from a reader in the Philippines, brought up a solution I have always advocated. He wrote, in part, “In my own honest opinion, I really believe that our dying sport needs a unified organization, which shall recognize the ‘world champion’ in its very essence, just like what the FIBA is to basketball.”

Exactly. The only problem is that the guys who “make the rules in boxing,” the promoters and the TV networks, those self-confessed “banks” of boxing, are mortally opposed to establishing any type of central boxing authority. That is the best solution, yet it is also not even being considered by anyone who profits from the fighters’ toil.

Of course, we were bound to get one nasty comment, which is exactly what we got: one. A reader with a Canadian email address defended The Ring giving Vitali Klitschko its heavyweight belt when he beat Corrie Sanders. He wrote, “you must concede that the RING awarded him their belt by following the policy they had previously established – something that can’t be said for the sanctioning bodies.”

Our reader from the Great White North missed the point completely, since we acknowledged time and again that The Ring’s rankings are obviously far superior to those of any and all of the alphabet soup sanctioning bodies. That still didn’t make that fight one where the winner should have been considered to be the inheritor of the linear heavyweight title, since it excluded any number of more deserving heavyweights at the time, and did not lead to a tournament.

Then our critic turned nasty himself: “I agree completely with Detloff (sic). As a boxing journalist, you should never mention the alphabet organizations because in doing so, you only serve to keep their names in the public eye. The RING does more to try and bring boxing back to respectability and prominence than you ever will, so don’t waste ink bashing the one thing all boxing writers should be thankful for.”

Written more like an American than a Canadian, eh? Not to mention the alphabet titles is to not report all the facts. Some of us still want to do that. And as I pointed out, holding more than one of these belts sure gives a fighter a leg up on getting one from The Ring as well.

As for wasting “ink”, did you see any on your computer screen? More importantly, this critic had to resort to an ad hominem attack on me, which is bad enough, without even considering what we had tried to do with the Boxing Writers’ Rankings Poll (BWRP), on which I worked last year while editor-in-chief at BoxingRanks.com. That poll still exists, I am told, although it didn’t garner great influence and now that site is pretty much in hibernation these days.

Unlike our lone critic, those working on the creation of some type of independent media poll are trying to, as the mid-American folklorist Larry the Cable Guy puts it, Git-R-Done. Such a poll would blow away all these self-appointed boxing authorities. That it has not yet been successfully created in the first half of the first decade of the 21st century says nothing about its potential, assuming that boxing itself survives long enough for it to play a role in resuscitating it.

Now yet another group has come forward to try to do the poll thing. Called the WBM Pro Boxing Poll, short for World Boxing Media (http://www.worldboxingmedia.com/), this poll says it has signed up 45 voters from around the world. Upon inquiry, however, we were informed that they are not yet ready to release their list of voters, as was done at the start of the BWRP. While I was invited to join, I have not thus far, especially since I have no way of knowing if my fellow voters are, as a colleague of mine likes to say, a bunch of shoemakers.

Well, at least these folks weren’t nasty. The jury is still out, however, on whether that is a good or a bad thing.

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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