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Articles of 2006

Duddy’s Irish Express Hits the Garden

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Although he continues to box under the nom de guerre ‘Ireland’s John Duddy,’ Irish Ropes matchmaker Jim Borzell sees signs that the undefeated middleweight from Derry is fast becoming “a multi-ethnic phenomenon.”

“From his earliest fights there’s always be a strong Irish contingent, and you’d see them dancing in the aisles, doing the wave, singing and chanting their football slogans,” noted Borzell. “Then as he kept winning I’d notice a few black guys joining in, then some Hispanics, and New Yorkers from other backgrounds.”

“It’s been a fantastic response,” said Duddy 15-0 with 13 knockouts, who will headline Irish Ropes’ March 16 promotion at the Madison Square Garden Theatre against North Dakotan Shelby Pudwill. “Since my first fight here two years ago the Irish reaction has been great. I think that when they see one of their own trying to get ahead in life they come out in numbers to support us.”

When the St. Patricks card was originally envisioned back in November, the word was that Duddy would be facing Mexican veteran Juan Ramon (Yory Boy) Campas. The promoters appear to have lowered their sights a bit in opting for Pudwill, but any disappointment didn’t translate into lost ticket revenues. The suspicion is that Duddy could have sold out the 5,038-seat Theatre fighting almost anyone. “I think all boxing fans tend to like an action style,” said the headliner. “But you’re going to see more to John Duddy than just a fighting slugger. I think I’ve showed that improvement over my last few fights.”

A professional since the age of 19, Pudwill is 21-2-1, but has never before fought east of the Mississippi, and Duddy will be just the fifth opponent with a winning record the North Dakotan has faced.

Five of Pudwill’s victims were winless when he met them, and three of those never won a fight against anybody, before or since.

Among these luminaries were the wonderfully-named Delbert Chasinghawk (0-4) and Brandon Busse (0-2), who Shelby outpointed two years ago in a Minnesota 4-rounder otherwise noteworthy for the identity of the referee – Don Elbaum.

The overall record of his 24 foes at the time he fought them was 139-224-17, and even that is somewhat misleading, since over one-third of the aggregate victories of his opposition were owned by one man – Craig Houk, who was 55-26 when Puddy stopped him back in 1996.

For obvious reasons, there isn’t much of a videotape library of Pudwill’s previous fights available for Duddy to study, but, said the Irishman, “I’ll see enough of him Thursday night.

“I think I might have seen his brother (Tocker Pudwill) when he fought (Joe) Calzaghe,” added Duddy.

You know: If you’ve seen one Pudwill, you’ve seen them all.

Duddy recalled having fought at the Garden ten months ago, when he outpointed Patrick Thompson on the undercard of Miguel Cotto’s TKO win over Mohamed Abdullaev. The card was designed to coincide with New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade. It was one of just two Duddy fights to have gone the distance.

“There were a lot of Irish there that night as well, and I was thinking ‘I’m finally here, in Madison Square Garden,’” remembered Duddy. “Little did I realize that less than a year later I’d actually be back there headlining a show. Even though it’s not in the big arena, it’s as good as in my book.”

The March 16 Duddy-and-Puddy show was originally entitled – and had been already been billed for almost two months as – the “Shamrock Express,” but a couple of weeks ago Irish Ropes announced that it was changing the name of its St. Patrick’s Day card to the somewhat less imaginative “Irish Express,” ostensibly out of respect to the late New Jersey super-middleweight Chris Reid, who died in 2001.

Thousands of posters and flyers suddenly became collector’s items.

We supposed that the switch came in response to some external pressure, and, as it turned out, we supposed right.

Chris Reid’s family – specifically, his sister Maureen, a New Jersey attorney who practices in Manhattan – had objected, claiming that by calling the card ‘The Shamrock Express’ the promoters were attempting to “profit off the name” of the deceased boxer.

This struck us as somewhat oversensitive, and more than slightly absurd. Were they suggesting that his surviving supporters might be led to believe Chris Reid himself was going to appear at the Madison Square Garden Theatre Thursday night? (Come to think of it, some of them might.)

It was, if you ask us, all pretty silly. It wasn’t as if Chris Reid ever actually owned the moniker, anyway. In fact, Shea Neary, the then-undefeated British junior welterweight knocked out by Micky Ward in their 2000 London fight, boxed under the name Shamrock Express throughout his career without threat of litigation from Ms. Reid.

The world, in fact, seems to be literally teeming with Shamrock Expresses.

There’s a thoroughbred racehorse in Australia called Shamrock Express, and the horse shares the name with an Irish pub in Chicago, with a type of sport fishing boat, and with a delivery service in Des Moines. The high-speed train which whisked Irish soccer fans around Japan during the 2002 World Cup was called the Shamrock Express. There’s also a Shamrock Express bus line which carries passengers between Denver’s International Airport and Cheyenne, Wyoming. There’s even a fuzzy little stuffed children’s toy train called the Shamrock Express.

Since nobody made any of them change their names, we couldn’t help but wonder why Irish Ropes knuckled under in this instance. Turns out they didn’t. The Garden did.

The McLoughlin Brothers were inclined not to budge, but in the face of Attorney Reid’s threats, MSG officials caved in. Hence the name change, although no one appears to have been dispatched to confiscate all those ‘Shamrock Express’ posters that were still hanging in Irish saloons from the Bronx to Staten Island this week.

Thursday’s card represents Irish Ropes’ promotional debut, and the Theatre was sold out a week ahead of time. Boxing fans who weren’t able to secure tickets will get their chance to watch the show a night later, when it will air on the MSG network, with Sean O’Grady performing blow-by-blow duty and the aforementioned Micky Ward serving as the color analyst.

It marks the first time since Kevin Kelley-Adolfo Castillo in 1993 that MSG has produced its own in-house telecast.

Duddy’s fight against Pudwill, incidentally, will be a ‘title’ bout of sorts, in that the vacant Continental Americas Middleweight Championship will be up for grabs. Duddy seems properly amused, and readily concedes that as a boy back in Ireland he didn’t spend much time dreaming about becoming an intergalactic champion. Asked if he could name the last previous holder of the coveted title he finds himself fighting for, he couldn’t – and neither could anyone else in the room.

“Who cares?” asked Duddy, sensibly. “The title means nothing, only the man who wins it.”

The Irish Ropes people plan to keep Duddy busy, with a ‘breather’ fight in April (though it’s hard to imagine an opponent who could be more of a breather than Shelby Pudwill), followed by a June bout against more substantial opposition. The latter will probably take place on the June 10 Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi card in the MSG main arena, but there is also the possibility that Duddy could wind up fighting for the first time as a pro back in Ireland that month.

“I think I’m more famous there now that I’m living out of Ireland than I was when I was there,” said Duddy, a former All-Ireland amateur champion. “It’s like everything else: The world seems to revolve around New York City – and people here have taken to me kindly. As the pieces to the puzzle have been put together, the picture’s getting bigger and a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon.”

Duddy was the most prominent of four undefeated boxers who will perform on the MSG card trotted out by Irish Ropes for a lunchtime tête-à-tête with the press at Jack Dempsey’s midtown saloon a week in advance of the festivities.

Duddy’s stablemate and frequent sparring partner, light middleweight James Moore, will also be in action Thursday night. Moore, described by Eddie McLoughlin as “one of the most decorated boxers ever to come out of Ireland,” is 3-0 as a pro and will be facing 9-2-2 Georgian Jose Felix.

Moore, who was briefly sidelined by a rib injury incurred during a sparring session with Duddy, said last week that he’d been preparing for his March fight since the first of the year.

“I’ve been sweating buckets,” said Moore, who seems to be enjoying his time away from the spotlight and doesn’t begrudge Duddy the limelight in the least.

As he pointed out at the New York press conference, for the last few years of Moore’s amateur career he was the captain of the Irish national team and in that role was expected to be a spokesman. He seems more comfortable in the background, (“it’s been like a weight off my shoulders”), but Borzell cautioned that the next few months are likely to see Moore considerably more active than Duddy.

Unbeaten Maureen Shea, who less than a year ago was fighting in the women’s Golden Gloves finals in the Garden, will be back again as a pro on the March 16 card. Shea, undefeated at 4-0.

“My father is Irish and my mother is Mexican,” said Shea, who lives in the Bronx. People hear about my background and say, ‘Well, you can either drink us under the table or you can fight. I choose the fighting.”

The fourth participant on hand at Jack Dempsey’s last week was Boston-based James Clancy, the onetime all-Ireland heavyweight champion from Ennis in County Clare, who as an amateur defeated, among others, Kevin McBride.

Clancy, 6-0 as a pro, will be opposed by Mitchell Rose, who enjoyed his six minutes of fame eleven years ago when he stopped Eric (Butterbean) Esch on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya-Jesse James Leija in the Garden’s main arena. Rose was 26 years old and 1-7-1 when he became the first man ever to beat Butterbean, a miscalculation that almost cost then-Top Rank matchmaker Ron Katz his job.

Borzell probably doesn’t have to worry about his. Now 37, Rose is 2-9-2, and a decade of inactivity may be the least of his worries: On that night back in 1995 Mitch might have been better than Butterbean. Now he’s just bigger than Butterbean.

Although he wasn’t present at last week’s lunchtime gathering, Matthew Macklin, the Birmingham-based middleweight who claims the Irish 160-pound title, will also box on the card. A possible future Duddy foe, Macklin (16-1) will fight Don Turner-trained Georgian Chris Troupe (10-4) in the 10-round co-feature.

“It’s going to be a great night,” promised Duddy. “I think it’s going to be a time when we’re finally going to be taken serious.”

(To see the video of the John Duddy press conference)

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

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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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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