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Articles of 2006

Gianfranco Rosi, IBF/WBC Light Middleweight King

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In Italy, Gianfranco Rosi’s story is so unique that could be the subject for a movie: he worked his way up to the top like the old-timers did, getting his first shot at the world title eight years after his pro debut, and became WBC light middleweight champion beating an oustanding fighter like Lupe Aquino. Rosi defended the belt against Duane Thomas and lost it to Donald Curry. One year after that, Gianfranco accepted to move to Atlantic City to face IBF light middleweight king Darrin Van Horn. Surprising everybody, Rosi knocked the American down and then beat him largely on points. Gianfranco kept the crown for five years and two months successfully defending it eleven times against top opposition; in his 12th defense, he was beaten in four rounds by Vincent Pettway. Between 1979 and 1997, Rosi built a record 58 wins (17 KOs), 5 losses, 1 draw and 1 no-contest. That’s enough to understand why the Italian is still remembered by the  boxing people in the United States. During my recent visit to the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas, I noticed a poster of Rosi vs. Aquino on the wall and famed trained Jesse Reid told me that Rosi was a legitimate champion who deserved a lot of respect. After his loss to Verno Philips in 1997, Rosi said that he would retire for good. Six years later, he decided to get back in the ring. Since the Italian boxing commission doesn’t grant a licence to fighters older than 40 (if they don’t have a major title), Rosi was forced to move abroad. Since 2003, he fought and won one match a year in Croatia, Serbia and Hungary against journeymen. What’s the former world champion’s goal? Let’s ask him.

Why did you come back?

Because I love boxing. After retiring, I bought a gym in my hometown of Perugia to keep involved in what I like the most. But that wasn’t enough for me, so I started considering to get back in the ring. I went to the doctor who said that I was in perfect physical conditions, then I started training seriously and after about one year I realized that I could still be competitive. My goal is to keep on fighting until I can defeat my opponents. My dream would be winning the world middleweight title.

Let’s talk about your career, what fight changed your career for the better?

The one against Darrin Van Horn because I became world champion in the United States easily beating the local favorite. Nobody gave me a chance, but I paid no attention to the critics and trained harder than ever before. I traveled to America absolutely convinced that I would win. When I sent Van Horn to the mat with a left hook, I realized that it was my night and gave my best. By the way, I saw tapes of Van Horn and prepared that left hook in the gym: that was the only time that I studied a move. Usually, I just cared about my physical and mental condition, about improving my technique and throwing a big number of punches. I never spent time considering how to land a big single blow. In fact, my opponents were never worried about getting KOed by a power punch.
That’s why many of them didn’t protect themselves properly and got hit by hundreds of my “ordinary” punches.

When they proposed you to fight Darrin Van Horn in his territory, weren’t you worried about a partisan verdict?

No, because I knew that in the United States they give the victory to the fighter who deserves it. It’s true that if the local boxer won by 4 points, the judges can give him 8 points, but they are not stealing a victory from somebody else. This doesn’t happen in other countries. Speaking in general, when a boxer fights abroad he must dominate or he can lose. Going back to Van Horn, while the match progressed I realized I was dominating so I was sure to get the virdict on all the scorecards. After the last bell, I remember thinking that maybe I lost one round and two were even. The judges scored 117-109, 118-108 and 116-109 in my favor. The rematch was also one-sided, even if there was less difference on the scorecards: 115-112 (twice) and 116-113 for me.

Were the Van Horn fights your best perfomances?

No, I performed better against Lupe Aquino whose record was 31-2-1. At the time, the Italian journalists wrote that I had no chances of winning. I knew that the Mexican was tough because I was ringside when he beat Duane Thomas for the WBC light middleweight title. I was scheduled to face the winner, so I didn’t miss one moment of that battle: it was very violent and I understood that I was going to fight an exceptionally gifted athlete. So, I gave 100% and beat Aquino winning my first world title.

Some people still talk about your match against Duane Thomas.

My defense against Duane Thomas was also a great performance. It happened on January 3, 1988: during the seventh round, I hit him with a series of punches and the referee declared the TKO. I never threw  such a beautiful combination again. Duane was an excellent boxer, he had a record of 29-2 and had beaten (TKO 3) John Mugabi for the WBC title on December 5, 1986.

After Van Horn, you fought twice another champion in his territory: Gilbert Delè.

I fought and beaten twice Gilbert Delè, in France and Monte Carlo. Delè was a southpaw who had been French, European and WBA light middleweight champion. He had a record of 34-1-1 and was the local favorite also in the Principality of Monaco, where the first language is French. The first time two scorecards were 116-111 in my favor, while the third one was 114-113 for him. In the second fight, two judges scored 116-111 and 114-113 for me, while one official saw it 114-112 for Delè. If the matches were held in Italy, probably I would have gotten unanimous decisions.

What about your loss to Donald Curry?

I just had a bad night and he beat me easily. I went down five times and realized that I was going to lose, so I remained on my stool at the start of the tenth round. I never look for excuses, when I lose. I think that a real champion must put his loss in the closet immediately and start thinking about his next fight. After Curry, I trained very hard, became a contender again and one year later defeated Van Horn for the IBF title.

Was Don Curry your toughest opponent?

Lloyd Honeyghan and Chris Pyatt were as tough as him. I lost my European welterweight title against Honeyghan (KO 3) in 1985. He caught me with a big right hand to the chin. Back then, he was in the best shape of his career, which he closed with a record of 43-5. After beating me, he became WBA, WBC and IBF welterweight champion. I consider him an all-time great. As for Chris Pyatt, I beat him on points for the European light middleweight crown in 1987. That was one helluva battle: he cut my eyebrow early and the match turned more difficult than it was supposed to be. Chris Pyatt was another great champion; he compiled a record of 46-5 and won many major titles like the British and European light middleweight and the WBO middleweight belts. Those fights against Honeyghan and Pyatt proved that I could lose only by KO. I never lost on points because I always trained very hard to last 12 rounds and studied the right strategy. No strategy can save you from a good punch to the right spot. I like to say that “you can beat any fighter on points and be KOed by anybody.”

Somebody else turned out to be tougher than expected?

Yes, Angel Hernandez. I saw him fight and didn’t think much of him. Besides, he had a record of 22-16-4. When I faced him, the Spaniard gave his best and forced me to do the same. I remember that it was an hard battle, which I won by 6th round TKO.

Since you fought so often abroad, you also trained in foreign gyms?

No, I always trained in my hometown with my coach Giovanni Bocciolini. I traveled to the city of the fight only a few days earlier. Giovanni is with me even today. I miss my manager Silverio Gresta, who passed away. I will never replace him, so I’m my own manager now.

Gianfranco Rosi

Born on August 5, 1957 in Assisi. This town is in the Umbria region of Central Italy 
Stance: Orthodox
Pro debut in 1979
Record: 61 wins (18 KOs), 5 losses, 1 draw and 1 no-contest
Welterweight Titles
Italian and European champion
Light middleweight Titles
European champion
WBC world champion from October 2, 1987 to July 8, 1988
IBF world champion from July 15, 1989 to September 17,1994
Today, he lives in Perugia where he owns the “Accademia Pugilistica Perugina” gym

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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