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Articles of 2006

Lacy-Calzaghe Fight Predictions

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Live Saturday night from the MEN Arena in Manchester, England, Showtime brings us the super middleweight unification bout between Jeff Lacy and Joe Calzaghe. This fight, at least on paper, has it all. Two champs, both undefeated, one a boxer, one a puncher, one a Yank, one a Brit, a little something for everyone. St. Petersburg, Florida’s Jeff Lacy is a fighter on the rise, a slugger who improves with every outing, but he’s never met a boxer as wily as Joe Calzaghe. The Welshman has been at the top for a very long time, but he, like Jeff Lacy, is about to be tested. This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.

This seems like a fight between two fighters going in opposite directions. Lacy is the up-and-comer with the big dreams and the bigger punch. Calzaghe is the longtime champ with patience and experience on his side. Early on, that experience might give Lacy some problems. Calzaghe has sharp boxing skills and very good hand speed. But, lately, he's been fading down the stretch – a sure sign of age. Had this fight taken place two years ago, the outcome could possibly have been different. But now, Calzaghe just doesn't have the late firepower to hold a raging monster like Lacy off for 12 rounds. But don't be surprised if Lacy has to come from behind to do it. Lacy, by big left hook, in the 11th round.
Matt Aguilar

I wonder if Lacy's airline will allow him to carry on all three belts (the IBF, IBO, and the WBO) as he returns home or if they will have to be checked?
Amy Green

You had to love that picture from Thursday’s Manchester press conference: The one depicting Joe Calzaghe, a boxer from the homeland of Dylan Thomas, Tommy Farr, and Richard Burton, walking around England looking like a New York turnstile jumper, a baseball cap turned backward atop his head? “Bells of Rhymney,” indeed. A decade ago we were in the same Manchester building for another highly anticipated super-middleweight title fight. It was known as the NYNEX Arena then, and before an overwhelmingly hostile crowd, Steve Collins, with Freddie Roach in his corner, successfully defended his WBO title when Nigel Benn allegedly twisted an ankle and quit in the fourth round. Collins’ back-to-back victories over Benn and Chris Eubank set a standard Joe Calzaghe has spent the past ten years trying to match, and in the undefeated Jeff Lacy he finally has an opportunity to confirm his greatness. There is no question that it is Lacy who will be stepping into the lion’s den, but even Calzaghe finds somewhat laughable the notion that Saturday’s contest represents a home game for him. As the Welshman pointed out to us in his New York visit several months ago, there have been at least three previous occasions where he defended his title in against English fighters in English venues – Robin Reid in Newcastle, David Starie in Manchester, and Richie Woodhall in Sheffield – and had to deal with a hostile crowd as well. In other words, don’t take it for granted that this is going to be an overwhelmingly pro-Calzaghe audience – especially if he wears that hat into the ring. That having been said, it could be that Calzaghe has finally met his match. Lacy might not be Steve Collins, but he is younger, stronger, and essentially fearless, and it’s hard to see how Calzaghe can keep him at bay all night. Joe is as game as they come, but look for Lacy to wear him down and possibly stop him in the late rounds.
George Kimball

This is the type of fight I would normally tend to side with the better boxer – Calzaghe –over the brute strength of the puncher – Lacy. Add to that the difference in experience that Joe holds and the fact he is fighting in his backyard, it makes an easy case. Still, my concerns with Joe are his age, layoffs due to injuries, and his brittle hands. Against a banger like Lacy you need to have snap in everything you throw and Calzaghe now slaps his punches from wide angles as opposed to coming down the middle with sharp crisp combinations. Throwing looping punches against Lacy, who often throws from his hip, isn't a good strategy as it may come down to who takes a better punch. I haven't seen Lacy really hurt, but he hasn't been in with a guy as good a Joe C yet. Fights against Sheika, Pemberton and Reid won't prepare him for this bout, but I see Jeff continuing to progress and getting better as a boxer. At times he is very crude and wild but being more economical and accurate with his punches is something that will help him here. After a few good early rounds by Calzaghe I look for Lacy to extract something from Joe with his heavy shots and body work. Calzaghe has been dropped in the past and it may only take one of Lacy's jackhammers to turn the fight in his favor. I think he does land that punch, and it is all downhill for Calzaghe after that.
Joey Knish

Calzaghe will run but he can't hide from Lacy's pressing attack. When he's forced to fight, the southpaw from Wales will square up and resort to wide, slapping arm-punches. He will then get dropped – hard. Lacy's also guilty of occasionally loading up, especially the overhand right, but he's not as bad as his opponent. The Floridian's defense, speed and agility is improving with each bout. His brutal combinations never lose their force and snap. Youth and strength will trump experience Saturday night. Lacy KO 8.
Zachary Levin

Everybody's big on Jeff Lacy and some are discounting the prowess of Joe Calzaghe. Not me. I think the fight has great potential and may be the bout both fighters need to bring out the best of one another. Personally I think Calzaghe isn't given the credit he's due. He's a strong, determined and skilled fighter fighting in front of his crowd. Lacy has been looking better and better but is on enemy territory. Lacy's not all he's cracked up to be and Calzaghe has more than people give him credit for. On his home soil – Calzaghe via unanimous decision.
Scott Mallon

I think Lacy is going to have a lot tougher night than he expected, but his youth, speed, power, and ferocity should garner him a late round victory. Lacy TKO 10.
Bob Mladinich

Calzaghe’s got an interesting, bounce-up-and-down, dated style…as if it was taught when a land mass split off – all paint-by-the-numbers, ramrod stiff. The only thing missing are the knee-length tights and silk sash. But why fix what ain’t broke? He punches hard with his left. His combos are quick. He’s a good finisher (though he looks like he’s cuffing) an infernal southpaw, and he’s shown some “bottle.” You go undefeated after 40 pro fights – even if you’re fighting your grandmother – you don’t lack confidence.  I’m sure Lacy’s muscles and reputation don’t cow him. They should. He’s the real deal – a super heavyweight masquerading as a super middle. He can bring down a building with either hand. It’s the one you don’t see that does ya in, as the saying goes – not with Lacy.  They’re big arcing shots. You can see them from across the pond and brace, but a wrecking ball still leaves you in ruin. Joe should have his early innings – between pride, hand speed and 40,000 at the MEN Arena screaming for him – but, ultimately, he’ll be 
bludgeoned into the canvas by the eighth round.
Joe Rein

There aren't too many fights these days that get you genuinely excited, but the Lacy-Calzaghe battle is a definite exception. After Saturday night, there should be no question as to who the best super-middleweight in the world is. This isn't an easy fight to pick considering both fighter's perfect records and the fact that each one has dominated the division; Calzaghe, of course, for what seems like an eternity. Lacy has destroyed his opposition with the combination of an aggressive style and heavy hands, but he hasn't fought anyone with as much ring intelligence and ability as Calzaghe. A southpaw with a heck of a chin and great punching power, this will easily be the biggest test of Lacy's career, especially fighting on enemy turf with thousands of raucous Brits cheering for his demise. The key to this fight is how well Lacy will handle Calzaghe's punches because he will get hit with some good shots early on. If his chin can take Calzaghe's best shots, then he will have no problem walking him down and beating him up according to his usual style. Calzaghe is a damn good fighter and I'm very tempted to pick him in his own backyard, BUT I think Lacy will come out more determined than ever before and will have the strength and power necessary to finally knock Calzaghe off his thrown. I see Calzaghe down for the count in Round 7.
Benn Schulberg

Lacy might be something special. Calzaghe should be the test to prove it. Lacy will past the test.
Ed Schuyler

This contest will raise many eyebrows. It's the longtime veteran champion who many see as untested, against the still somewhat green new kid on the block. Jeff Lacy 21-0 (17 KO's) won the IBF super middleweight title one and a half years ago. Since that time he has remained very active, something many other so-called “champions” have yet to do, defending his title 4 times, once winning by a UD, the other three by KO. Joe Calzaghe 40-0 (31 KO's) has been the WBO champion for eight and a half years. Over that span it has seemed that Calzaghe is perfectly content with staying close to home and fighting some questionable opposition. Though he made the best of the Brits look like chumps, Calzaghe has been champ since 1997. Since that time there were many opportunities for mega matches against James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, and at the time, the invincible Roy Jones Jr., but somehow Calzaghe has always weaseled his way out, just as he has tried to do for some time against Lacy. Jeff Lacy has had his chin checked a number of times against big punchers such as Scott Pemberton, Robin Reid, Syd Vanderpool, and others. Time and time again, Lacy has passed with flying colors, proving his chin to be nothing short of granite. Calzaghe, however, indeed has a questionable chin. Calzaghe has been dropped in the past by a decent puncher in Byron Mitchell, 18 of 25 wins by KO, and by the light-fisted Kabary Salem, only 12 of 25 wins by KO. Though Calzaghe got to his feet and won both of those fights, neither man's power comes remotely close to that of the man who will stand in the way of Calzaghe Saturday night, and the long-awaited respect he believes he deserves. Calzaghe will fight with the heart of a true champion, but it will not be enough to stop Lacy, who hits as hard as Tyson and is as fast as “Pretty Boy” Floyd. Lacy by KO in six.
Alex Stone

If this bout lives up to its hype and potential, it will be the greatest thing to happen to the super middleweight division in over ten years. However, while both fighters possess a great deal of power, it will not be an exercise of spilled plasma. Each will have a difficult time inflicting damage on the other. But when the final bell sounds, Jeff Lacy will have successfully swarmed Joe Calzaghe enough times to win. Lacy by decision.
Aaron Tallent

Lacy has been well marketed so he's gained attention and approval perhaps beyond what is deserved. But I like his power, love his athleticism and his hunger. Calzaghe is hungry, knows the clock is ticking on him and is a crafty lefty. This is a 50-50 proposition. I'm going out on a limb here. I see a draw…..Just kidding. Looking for Lacy to bull the Welshman, who has to prove all his smack talk over the years wasn't just posturing, but he’ll be hurt by the fact that his opposition has been less than stellar since he turned pro in 1993. Lacy TKO 4.
Michael Woods

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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