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Articles of 2006

Boxing’s Landslide Massacres

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It’s not everyday that you see a fight previously regarded as competitive turn into a massacre — such as last Saturday’s Joe Calzaghe-Jeff Lacy surprise.

But it happens. It happens a lot.

Here are a few fights that were pick ’em affairs — some of them superfight-style matchups — going in, only to swing in favor of a surprise landslide winner.

And, in some cases, the winner was an underdog.

• Salvador Sanchez TKO 8 Wilfredo Gomez (Aug. 21, 1981, Las Vegas): Going in, Gomez appeared invincible. He was the undefeated challenger from Puerto Rico, a power puncher who had notched 13 defenses of his 122-pound title. “Bazooka” had so cleaned out his division that he stepped up to challenge WBC champ Sanchez at 126 pounds. A smooth counterpuncher from Mexico, Sanchez had reigned for a year-and-a-half after upsetting the popular Danny “Little Red” Lopez in early-1980. But it was Gomez who entered as the favorite, based on his power: He had knocked out 32 straight opponents since being held to a draw in his pro debut, and some figured he was the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. He was the complete package: He possessed boxing ability, knew his way around a boxing ring, and that punch. Wow, that punch. Gomez didn’t just beat people. He destroyed them. All-time great Carlos Zarate was among his victims, as was talented up-and-comer Derrik Holmes. It didn’t matter who Gomez fought. He owned them. Meanwhile, Sanchez, as skilled as he was, often appeared vulnerable against the likes of Patrick Ford (W 15) and Juan LaPorte (W 15). His quality was undeniable, but there were lapses, and he often seemed to fight to the level of his competition. Going in, it appeared to be an uphill battle for the defending titlist. Once in the ring, however, a motivated, confident Sanchez stormed out of his corner and blitzed Gomez. He dropped him with a left hook early in the first round, and gave the challenger a fierce working-over. Gomez showed guts the rest of the way in surviving, and the middle rounds were entertaining. But Sanchez was bigger, stronger and, ultimately, better. The exhausted, battered Puerto Rican finally succumbed in the eighth round. Sanchez did it much the way Calzaghe did it to Lacy: By overwhelming his opponent with volume and speed. The end came with Gomez nearly being knocked headfirst into press row. Afterwards, he was a mess — his right eye roughly resembled a softball, and the left eye wasn’t much better. Afterward, Sanchez celebrated with his countrymen. And while Gomez rebounded to win titles in two more divisions, he was overwhelmed by Sanchez. And, on a hot summer night in Sin City, there was little doubt as to the identity of the world’s best featherweight.

• Donald Curry KO 2 Milton McCrory (Dec. 6, 1985, Las Vegas): This one, dubbed “The Toss-Up”, pitted a pair of undefeated champions. Curry was the WBA/IBF champ from Fort Worth, Texas. He had won the vacant WBA crown in 1983, with a so-so decision over the limited-but-determined Jun Sok Hwang. However, the “Cobra” had inched his way closer to superstardom with a string of outstanding victories over top-flight opposition, including Marlon Starling (W 15), Nino LaRocca (KO 6) and Colin Jones (KO 4). Going in, he was a solid favorite to defeat his counterpart from Detroit, McCrory. McCrory, known as the “Iceman”, was the virtual twin of Kronk stablemate Thomas Hearns. He was 6-foot-1, long and lean, and possessed a big punch — though not nearly as harmful as the “Hitman’s.” And he actually was more impressive early in his career than late, when his power seemed to disappear once the quality of opposition improved. McCrory often struggled in decisions over the likes of Jones (two hard-fought, decision victories). Even with some of McCrory’s sub-par performances, however, his pairing with Curry was intriguing. It would crown the first undisputed 147-pound king since Sugar Ray Leonard knocked out Hearns in that classic “Showdown” three years prior. Once the ring clanged, however, it was no Leonard-Hearns. It was a demolition. Curry was physically superior to McCrory in every way — strength, punching power and speed. He took the fight to McCrory early, and, in the second round, flattened him with a gorgeous left hook. McCrory got up, only to be dropped again with a right hand. This time, he didn’t get up. And Curry zoomed his way up the pound-for-pound lists. For a little while, at least.

• Michael Nunn KO 1 Sumbu Kalambay (March 25, 1989, Las Vegas): Though IBF middleweight champ “Second To” Nunn was thought to be Leonard’s heir apparent, he was surely going to get a tough fight from Zambia’s talented Kalambay, the WBA 160-pound champion. Or so the experts thought. Nunn, a southpaw with boxing skill, seemed to have everything. And he was coming off a 1988 in which he was named “The Ring” magazine “Fighter of the Year.” If there was a criticism, however, it was that the Davenport-turned-Los Angeles resident lacked a punch. Instead of blowing opponents out, he specialized in overwhelming them with speed and ability. But, without a punch, experts wondered how he could be a star in the mold of Leonard, despite coming off wins over the top -notch Frank Tate (KO 9) and Juan Roldan (KO 8). In the other corner, Kalambay’s claim to fame was that he had upset future Hall-of-Famer Mike McCallum in early ‘88, making believers out of most of the American naysayers. And, before that, he had defeated Iran Barkley (W 15) and Herol Graham (W 12). He was smooth and crafty, and his experience figured to trouble the youthful, comparatively green Nunn. Then, seconds into round one, the prefight skinny was proven to be myth. Boom! Kalambay leaned in after an exchange, and Nunn fired a perfect left hand counter that paralyzed the WBA champ for an instant, before sending him sailing to the deck. At ringside, they said the punch sounded like a shotgun blast. Kalambay tried to get up on instinct, but was useless. With one big punch, Nunn went from superstar-in-waiting to superstar. Kind of. As HBO’s blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley exclaimed, “….and Michael Nunn answers a lot of questions about his punching power.” As it turned out, it was an aberration. Nunn wasn’t a puncher, and he never really became a star — mostly because of his ho-hum attitude. He was the pugilistic cake that didn’t rise. Today, he sits in a jail cell. But he’ll always have that one moment when he stiffened Kalambay, and was the talk of boxing.

• Roy Jones Jr. W 12 James Toney (Nov. 18, 1994, Las Vegas): Wow, did this fight look like the real deal going in. There was Toney, the two-time champion from Ann Arbor, Mich., whose bite was every bit as effective as his bark. Whether he sat back and boxed — as he did in victories over Merqui Sosa (W 12) and Mike McCallum (W 12) — or rumbled without pause — the McCallum original (D 12), Nunn (KO 11) — he was equally effective. His counterpunching ability was peerless. The boxing ring was his living room, and he seemingly had mastered every nuance, every angle, of the fight game. Besides that, he had a nasty attitude — daring people to test him. Across the blue canvas was Jones, perhaps one of the most physically gifted fighters in boxing history. His speed was so phenomenal that most of his opponents were demoralized by the end of the first round. But, besides that, he could punch. Boy could he punch. The left hook to the liver that buried poor Glen Wolfe was the stuff of legend. And the volley of hydrogen bombs that flattened Jorge Vaca was one of the more impressive offensive assaults of the 1990s. So, the stage was set: Toney’s blue-collar, bring-your-lunch-pail to work, bad-ass persona, vs. Jones’ amazing natural ability. The “Uncivil War” couldn’t miss, right? It missed, if only because Jones was so much better. Jones dominated Toney from the early seconds of round one to the waning moments of round 12. It had become so routine that the crowd was bored stiff by the end of it. In every way imaginable, Jones had mastered Toney — keeping him at long range and controlling the exchanges with his hand and foot speed. Toney could only fire a desperate counter punch and pray. He had never seen the kind of blazing quickness that Jones possessed. In the fourth round, Jones was so in control that he dropped his hands and mocked Toney. “Lights Out” responded by dropping his gloves, and by the time hecould react, Jones had already slapped him with a left hook.  Toney fell back awkwardly — and embarrassingly — and dropped on his butt in a corner. That sequence served as a microcosm to the fight. Both went on to achieve further success. But no one ever called for a rematch. The better fighter was obvious.

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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