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Articles of 2006

Patrizio Oliva, The Only Italian Boxer Who Did It All

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In Italy, there’s only one boxer who can claim to have been involved in every aspect of the sport at the highest level: Patrizio Oliva. He was Olympic gold medalist, professional world champion, coach of the national team and now works as promoter and referee. His first major success came during the European Junior Championships, held in Dublin (Ireland) in 1978, where he won the gold medal in the 132 pounds division. The following year, he participated at the European Senior Championships in Koeln (Federal Republic of Germany) and got the silver medal in the 139 pounds division. In 1980, Patrizio Oliva became a star by winning the Olympic gold medal at 139 lbs. His professional career was also spectacular. Between 1980 and 1992, he compiled a record of 57 wins (20 KOs) and just 2 losses. As a light welterweight, he became Italian, European and WBA world champion. Among welterweights, he won the European title.

Who was your toughest opponent?

Among amateurs, Serik Konakbajew. He was one of the best Russians of his era. The judges gave him the victory in the final of the 1979 European championships, but I don’t think he won. One year later, I beat him in the Olympic final in Moscow right in front of his own fans. By the way, I received the cup of Best Boxer of the Olympics. Among prizefighters, nobody ever gave me many problems. Juan Martin Coggi and James McGirt defeated me because I wasn’t giving 100%, for different reasons. I shouldn’t have faced Coggi in the first place. I was scheduled to defend my WBA light welterweight title against Hector Camacho for a big purse. My manager, Rocco Agostino, flied to the United States to speak with Camacho’s people. When Rocco came back to Italy said that he couldn’t get the fight because my style was too similar to Hector’s and that wasn’t good for the Puerto Rican. A few days later, Agostino told me that Juan Martin Coggi was willing to fight me in three weeks. I never heard of the Argentinean and I  was too angry for having missed the opportunity of a big payday. On the other hand, Coggi was at his best. That’s why he KOed me in three rounds. When I faced WBC welterweight champion James McGirt, I had already decided to hang up the gloves. After 12 rounds, McGirt got a well deserved unanimous decision.

You said that you and Camacho had similar styles, but it didn’t look like that.

Hector Camacho was very difficult to hit because he always moved while throwing his punches, he  kept away from his opponent and never accepted the brawl. That was also my style. If you don’t have the KO punch, you must prepare a strategy to frustrate your opponent and win on points. Of course, I never made any show-bizzing like The Macho Man. Nobody ever asked me to be an entertainer because I fought mostly in Italy, but I never had the intention of turning myself into a showman anyway.

Why didn’t you fight often abroad?

Because I didn’t need it. My name was big enough to sell out Italian venues and make money. My only major fight abroad was in Monte Carlo, against WBA light welterweight champion Ubaldo Sacco who I defeated by split decision. It was one of the toughest matches of my career. Sacco was a legitimate warrior. Two scorecards were 147-144 and 145-141 for me, the third one was 145-140 in his favor. Nobody can say that it was a partisan virdict because I’m Italian and he was Argentinean.

Was that your best performance?

Maybe, but I performed well also against Juan Josè Gimenez. He was born in Argentina and spent most of his career there, but he was also booked to fight in Uruguay, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Germany and the United States, where he lost by unanimous decision to WBC light welterweight champion Leroy Haley in 1982. Gimenez settled in my country and became very famous, that’s why I defended my European light welterweight belt against him in 1983. He had a record of 88-8-5, while mine was just 29-0. We fought a spectacular battle which I won on points. Later, Gimenez became Italian champion, defended the belt, lost it and retired. He was a great fighter.

Who turned out to be different than expected?

Kirkland Laing. I took the European welterweight title from him, in 1990. He was a Jamaican with a record of  38-7-1. He had been British welterweight champion and had won the Euro belt, destroying the respected French southpaw Antoine Fernandez (who I beat on points, in 1992) in two rounds. I assumed that Laing was a good boxer. He turned out to be a dirty fighter, who didn’t want to put up a decent performance. I won on points, but the match was ugly.

Let’s talk about your career as trainer of the Italian national team.

I coached the Italian team from 1996 to 2001. I’m proud to say that my boxers won medals in every tournament but one. That’s why I was voted Best Trainer in Europe in 1999 and 2000 by the European Amateur Boxing Association. I was very happy when Giacobbe Fragomeni won the 1998 European  championship in the heavyweight division in Minsk (Belarus). The first time I saw him, I recognized his talent. I also understood that he had to change his style: he used to move a lot without throwing many punches, I turned him into a punching machine. I’m absolutely convinced that he can become world cruiserweight champion. He could beat WBO champion Johnny Nelson.
I was in Paolo Vidoz’s corner when he won the Goodwill Games and got the Olympic bronze medal. By the way, I’m convinced that every boxer should have a long amateur career because it allows him to get experience on five continents against fighters with different styles. Amateur competition is also useful to learn that major results don’t come fast (like we hear too many times on television). Before the European and Olympic titles, I won five Italian championships: three of them in the featherweight division, two as a lightweight.

Are you happy with your job as a promoter?

Partially, because I’m promoting from 8 to 10 shows a year. These numbers may look good in Italy, but my business partner Elio Cotena once promoted 25 shows in twelve months. The Italian market is on its way down. I’m also not fully satisfied with my boxers. The most famous are welterweights Sven Paris (18-1), Cristian De Martinis (15-0) and Gianmario Grassellini (13-0-1). I know Sven Paris since he was amateur. He is very talented and could make it big. He already won the Italian and WBA intercontinental titles. The problem is that his last performances were disappointing; this diminished commitment to the sport led to his first loss, against Tobia Loriga on February 17. Right now, I’m exploring a new side of the boxing business: I became an international referee and will soon officiate my first match in Ukraine. It will be sanctioned by the IBF.

Patrizio Oliva

Born on January 28, 1959 in Naples (Italy)
Stance: Orthodox
Manager: Rocco Agostino
Trainer: Geppino Silvestri
Amateur titles
Italian champion (125 lbs. and 132 lbs.)
1978 European Junior Championships: gold medal (132 lbs.) 
1979 European Senior Championships: silver medal (139 lbs.)
1980 Olympics: gold medal (139 lbs.)  Voted “Best boxer of the Olympics”
Professional debut in 1980
Record: 57 wins (20 KOs) and 2 losses
Light welterweight titles
Italian champion (1981-1982)
European champion (1983-1985)
WBA world champion (1986-1987)
Welterweight titles
European champion (1990-1992)

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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