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Articles of 2006

Gary Shaw on Lacy Stunner: “Losing Sucks”

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Promoter Gary Shaw sat in his chair at the MEN Arena with high hopes dancing in his head. Shaw loved Jeff Lacy’s chances against Joe Calzaghe last Saturday night, and beyond that, he loves Jeff Lacy.

His son Jared has spent tons of time with the 28-year-old Floridian and idolizes the fighter with fierce intensity.

So by round three, when it became apparent that Lacy wasn’t making the switches he needed to make to get into the bout with Calzaghe, Shaw began to feel sick. His stomach churned, the tension at seeing the unbelievable unfold before his disbelieving eyes doing a nasty job on his innards.

“I was wishing I could be in there with him,” said the promoter. “It was tough for my wife sitting by me. My son was hysterical in California. Losing sucks, period.”

So, was Lacy overanxious? Did the magnitude of the moment dwarf? What the hell happened?

“I don’t know,” Shaw said. “Lacy told me afterwards, ‘That wasn’t Jeff Lacy in that ring.’’’

By the third round, Shaw said, he saw this Lacy was a poor shadow of the Lacy that had rung up 21 straight wins as a pro: “I knew then he was fighting on sheer will. I knew he was just hoping to land a haymaker.”

Shaw gave his lungs a workout, pleading with Lacy to step it up. “Show heart!” he bellowed. “Fight from your heart!”

Towards the finish in the twelfth, Shaw said, he wanted to throw in the towel as his man was taking shot after shot and wasn’t answering. But the bell rang.

Jim Wilkes, the attorney/advisor/friend of Lacy approached Shaw around the ninth round and said he wanted to tell trainer Dan Birmingham to halt the one-sided affair. Shaw talked him out of it.

“He loves Jeff, but I said ‘Don’t do that. Lacy has a punchers chance and maybe he’ll always hate us for doing that.’’’

So, I asked Shaw, was Lacy exposed?

“I don’t know if he got exposed,” he said. “But his curve didn’t curve, his fastball wasn’t fast and his slider didn’t slide.”

Shaw offered analogies to other sports figures that on one occasion just didn’t have the goods.

“The best example is Sugar Ray Leonard,” he said. “He lost to Duran, then had a sparkling career. Or maybe Nolan Ryan. One day he goes out and he doesn’t have his best stuff and he’s pulled in the third inning. But you can’t pull a fighter.”

Does Shaw regret making the match?

“Not at all,” he said. “Things broke down and they went wrong. But I haven’t sat down with Jeff one on one and asked ‘Was it the moment?’ Or ‘Was it the buildup?’’’

Shaw recommended to Lacy that he take a long break from boxing. The fighter was taking an MRI and a CT scan on Wednesday, the promoter said, to make sure there was no severe trauma, beyond the blow to his reputation and, perhaps, confidence. “He should forget all about boxing for awhile,” Shaw said.

It could be as late as October, Shaw said, before Lacy laces the gloves on again.

The promoter was jetting to Thailand on some business. He’d scheduled a vacation right after the big bout, and will adhere to his plans. But his tour won’t be a victory lap. “It’s bittersweet,” Shaw said. “It’s not that easy to shrug it off. He’s special to me.”

MEA CULPA, LATIN FOR “MY BAD”

Tons of UK readers have called for it, and while that outcry does indeed influence me, my conscience demands it. So here it goes, my massive mea culpa on the Lacy KO 2 prediction.

I got it wrong.

I blundered.

Is that enough, my UK detractors, my wealth of Wales-residing anti-fanclub devotees?

No?

Well tough luck, because many of your “experts” across the pond there said many of the same things I did about Calzaghe’s checkered past. They referenced the poor performances, the pullouts, and the apparent hesitance to demand marquee matchups with the best and brightest in the sport.

They were, like me, skillfully seduced by the grapefruits posing as biceps that are attached to Jeff Lacy.

The sweet nothings whispered in their ears, about the Olympian’s unparalleled determination and wrecking-ball power, worked like Cialis. The sweet nothings clouded their brains and gave them a serious hard-on for Lacy, who in retrospect, after the blood has flooded back into our brains, we realized hasn’t fought any competitor anywhere close to the caliber of boxing’s King of Wales.

But I should have paid more attention to the fighters who looked into their crystal balls and saw Calzaghe, despite his advanced age, and balsa-wood hands, and his hymen-thin chin, emerging with his undefeated record intact.

In that vein, was there any person more qualified to hazard a guess who would leave the MEN Arena on Saturday night still undefeated than Robin Reid? The British super-middleweight, a quite competent pro, fought both of them. He met Calzaghe in 1999 and lost a split decision. In August, with 35 years under his belt, he had his last stand against the ascendant Lacy. The Floridian took a conclusive TKO8 win.

After that bout, Reid, who had never hit the canvas prior to being felled by Lacy, said that in a clash of Calzaghe/Lacy, he’d lean towards the Welshman. “”Left Hook Lacy is overrated,” Reid said. “He's strong and he's good but not as good as you think. I could tell you that he's the greatest thing since sliced bread since he's just beaten me – but he's not.”

And Marvin Hagler, an officer in the Lefty Club, saw great things in Calzaghe, then a junior officer in the Club. As across-the-pond reader Mark Oxley kindly pointed out to me, the Marvelous One has gushed about Calzaghe, putting him in the pound-for-pound top ten. Hagler also said Calzaghe would give Lacy some schooling and come out on top March 4.

So what’s the lesson learned, from my perspective? Ask more ACTUAL FIGHTERS their take on the matchups that intrigue us, instead of relying on experts who haven’t left their sweat and blood on the canvas.

SPEEDBAG

Mikkel Kessler (37-0), the WBA super middle champ, was ringside with promoter Mogens Palle and advisor Michael Marley. Marley then watched the bout on tape and said it looked more scintillating in person. So, will Calzaghe give Kessler, the undefeated Dane, next crack?

“I talked to Frank Warren on another matter, and I think Calzaghe’s shooting for Roy Jones,” Marley said.

Kessler, whose last fight was a TKO10 win over Eric Lucas in January, showed off his predictive skills before Calzaghe and Lacy squared off. “Kessler told me Calzaghe would win,” Marley said. “But he didn’t say it would be that easy.”

Marley was severely unimpressed with Lacy’s defense and had no regard for his team’s reaction after the shocking loss. “They sandbagged him,” Marley said. “They said he didn’t he didn’t follow the gameplan. Lacy needed support then. He’ll recover physically, he’s young, but I don’t know about mentally.”

* * *

After I filed my Calzaghe/Lacy fight report, I realized something. I had neglected to mention what title belts were on the line.

Know something? No one noticed, or cared enough to alert me to the omission.

I believe my “error” was a subconscious act, and indicates my disdain for the whole idiotic Billion And One Belts scenario that exists today. Real fans know who the best fighters are, and they spread the word to the less-hardcore who may be swayed by sanctioning body sweet-talk. The belts are less and less relevant.

* * *

If you’re in the tri-state area, stop by the Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday evening and see a welterweight who will likely be in the big picture title mix sooner rather than later. Edgar Santana (16-2, 11 KOs) was born in Puerto Rico and lives in Spanish Harlem. (He’s managed by Ernesto Dallas, who I met at a PR event, and impressed the heck out of me. He came off smart and humble, and when I learned that he haggled with promoter Lou DiBella to get a solid contract, I marked him down as one to watch. Word will spread that he’s a manager who’s willing to battle long and hard for the betterment of his fighter.) Santana faces off with 19-5-1 Francisco Campos, who has lost to some excellent fighters but who the matchmaker, Joe Quiambao, assures me can really crack.

Also, Gary Stark, a 13-0 super bantam from Staten Island, is in tough. He’s matched with 20-4 Debind Thapa, a southpaw from Nepal.

Tix are available by calling 212-947-2577.

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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