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Articles of 2006

Michele Piccirillo, The Italian Gentleman

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Michele Piccirillo is one of the most dominant Italian fighters of the last 14 years. Since his professional debut in 1992, he has won more belts than you can imagine. I will only mention the major ones. In the light welterweight division, he has been Italian champion. As a welterweight, he has won the European, WBU and IBF world titles. His record comprises 44 wins (28 KOs), 3 losses and 1 no-contest. Among the opponents he defeated, we find top ranked boxers like Alessandro Duran, Sergio Ernesto Acuna, Juan Martin Coggi, Frankie Randall, Andrew Murray, Rafael Pineda and Cory Spinks. Piccirillo’s most recent match was a loss to Ricardo Mayorga for the vacant WBC light middleweight title on August 13, 2005 in Chicago. Michele’s next challenge will be against Lukas Konecny (29-1) for the vacant European light middleweight crown in Bergamo (Italy).

When you beat Frankie Randall in 1999, he was 56-6-1 and had a big reputation. In 1994, he had given Julio Cesar Chavez two tough matches. In the first one, the Mexican was knocked down for the first time in his career, was penalized for low blows in the 7th and 11th rounds and lost a split decision. In the second fight, Chavez won by technical decision when he was ahead on the scorecards for 76-75, 77-74 and 76-75. How did you prepare for Randall?

Randall had a big reputation also because he fought three great battles with Juan Martin Coggi (winning two of them) and had been WBC and WBA light welterweight champion. I prepared for him just like I trained for everybody else: working hard. He turned out to be a very dangerous opponent, was in excellent condition and threw a flurry of punches. I got a unanimous decision, in Padova (Italy) on December 18, 1999. After our match, Randall kept on fighting and lost most of his battles. Today, his record stands at 59-18-1. I think he should have retired many years ago, with a good record.

Juan Martin Coggi was another tough opponent.

When I fought him, Coggi was 75-4-2 and had been WBA light welterweight champion three times. He won the belt by KOing Patrizio Oliva in July 1987 in three rounds and kept it until August 1990 (among others, he easily beat Jose Luis Ramirez). Coggi’s second reign lasted from April 1993 to September 1994. In one year and five months, he defended the belt seven times! His third reign went from January to August 1996; just two fights with Frankie Randall. Like all the Argentineans, Juan Martin Coggi always moved forward throwing one punch after another and never went down (even if he was hit many times to the face). Besides, Coggi was a southpaw and that made him even more difficult to fight. I faced many Argentineans and can guarantee that they are all true warriors, even if most of them are not gifted technically. Sergio Ernesto Acuna, for example, was 20-0 when I met him and gave me a tough time (he was very fast) even if I won largely on points.

You have a no-contest against Elio Ortiz at Madison Square Garden. What happened in that fight?

Elio Ortiz was a tough Venezuelan, with a record of 20-5, who had lost on points to WBA light welterweight champion Sharmba Mitchell. During our fight, Ortiz headbutted me and the doctor said that I couldn’t continue (I required 22 stitches). The referee declared it a no-contest. I won all the four rounds.

Right after Ortiz, you defeated Rafael Pineda at the Garden. Tell us about that match.

Rafael Pineda was 35-3 and had been IBF light welterweight champion. He was very well conditioned, always attacked and hurt with both his hands. He didn’t have great technique, but he was one helluva fighter. He remained competitive until his last fight. On May 15, 2004 he lost a split decision to Zab Judah: the judges scored it 115-112 (for the Colombian), 115-112 and 114-113 (for Judah).

What about the two fights against Cory Spinks?

I was supposed to fight Vernon Forrest, but he left the IBF title to fight Shane Mosley for a big purse (I would have done the same thing). When Cory Spinks was chosen as co challenger for the vacant belt, many people told me that I got lucky because they didn’t think much of the American. I knew they were wrong. Both of our fights generated controversy. The first time, the judges scored 115-112, 116-111 and 115-112 in my favor. In the rematch, he got a unanimous decision: 117-111, 117-112 and 115-113.  Some people think that Cory won both times. My opinion is just the opposite: if the second battle had been declared a draw, they would have done a favor to my opponent. Cory Spinks is additional proof that all southpaws are dangerous.

Tell us about your loss to Ricardo Mayorga.

Twenty days before the fight I damaged my right ankle, one rib, and broke my meniscus. I traveled to Chicago anyway because I wanted to become WBC light middleweight champion. I knew that the only way to beat Mayorga was scoring a KO, because the match was held in his territory. The fight turned out to be more difficult than expected: Mayorga played dirty and the referee did nothing. The Nicaraguan hit me twice on the nape of the neck and I went down. By the rulebook, I shouldn’t have been counted, but I was. The third knockdown was a legitimate one: Mayorga got me right on the temple. I admit that I lost, but not by 7, 9 and 15 points.

During the press conference, Mayorga insulted you many times. Why didn’t you answer back?

Because I’m a gentleman, in and out of the ring. I let the people talk. Who cares what they say? I remember that Mayorga argued with everybody the day of the fight; maybe that’s why he was so angry during the press conference. Some things he said were really stupid. He talked about KOing me fast, coming to my hotel room to help me making the luggage so that I could go back to Italy and have a pizza to get some weight. Give me a break!

Have the American promoters ever asked you to be more cooperative in doing some show business to help selling tickets?

No. If they did, I would have refused. I’m a fighter, not a showman.

The only surprising loss in your record is the one against Soren Sondergaard for the European light welterweight title. Tell us about that.

I just had a bad night, but I must recognize that Soren Sondergaard was a legitimate champion. When I met him, he had a record of 24-1. Not many people know that Denmark has a big tradition in boxing: they never had a big number of fighters, but many of them won major titles. I always knew how good the Danish school was because of my amateur experience. I was in the Italian national team for 8 years and compiled a record of 130 wins and 3 losses. I participated to 17 international tournaments winning 15 gold medals. I also won the bronze medal during the 1991 European championships held in Goeteborg (Sweden) in the 139 pound division. Three years earlier I participated to the European Junior championships in held in Gdask (Poland) and got the silver medal in the 132 pound division. My biggest regret is the 1992 Olympics, where I didn’t go far. I really believe that a long amateur career is very important because it gives you the opportunity to travel the entire world and fight opponents with different styles.

Lukas Konecny has a good record (29-1), but has won only minor titles. The most prestigious of them is the WBO intercontinental light middleweight belt and that says it all… He lacks your experience and should be an easy opponent.

He is a 27-year-old southpaw and competed in the 2000 Olympics, so I don’t take him lightly. I haven’t seen any videos of him in action, but they told me he is a good fighter. I will get a tape soon, to verify that information. Anyway, I’m training as hard as ever and that’s what counts.

Michele Piccirillo

Born in Modugno (Italy) on January 29, 1970
Stance: Orthodox
Pro debut in 1992
Light welterweight titles: Italian and IBF intercontinental champion
Welterweight titles: European and WBU intercontinental champion
WBU world champion from May 4, 1998 to August 5, 2000; he successfully defended the belt eight times
IBF world champion from April 13, 2002 to March 22, 2003; he won and lost the title against Cory Spinks; no defenses between the two fights

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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