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Articles of 2006

University of James Toney



Inside the second floor Wild Card Gym with frayed fight posters of yesteryear adorning its walls, James “Lights Out” Toney bellows out commands and taunts to his sparring partners in mid-punch with a dozen or so people watching.

School is definitely in session.

“Shut up and watch,” Toney (69-4-2, 43 KOs) shouts toward light heavyweight Daniel Judah who is quietly watching by a speed bag. “Is that you Judah’s talking?”

Sparring or talking, Toney’s like an IMAX theater camera, he sees everything in a large radius and expects to use that extraordinary vision to victory when he faces Hasim Rahman (41-5-1, 33 KOs) for the WBC heavyweight world title on March 18 in Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall. The fight will be televised by HBO.

Toney commands an audience like few other fighters in the history of the sport. He’s a multi-task personality with an ability to juggle opponents, conversations, or observe facial expressions of gawkers in a microsecond.

Only a few in the history of the sport have proven capable of the same feat.

“Everyone keeps saying ‘Hasim Rahman is so big ‘how can you beat him,’” mimics Toney in falsetto while sparring. “He ain’t got a chance.”

Back when Toney fought as a super middleweight and told anyone who would listen he was really a heavyweight, people scoffed and looked at his 5-9-height and walked away politely. Even a 168-pound Toney was not a person to disrespect.

In the year 2000, visitors would see Toney inside the Hollywood location boxing gym and smugly dismiss the Michigan native as a has-been who was once considered the best fighter pound-for-pound in the world.

“He cut me,” Toney says while looking at his former promoter Bob Arum – now representing Rahman – at a press conference in Sherman Oaks, California. “I told him I was a heavyweight in a middleweight’s body. Bob Arum wasn’t trying to hear me though.”

Now, after convincingly defeating several high-caliber opponents in the heavyweight division, the boxing world views Toney as the real deal.

A victory over Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield in 2003 shockingly exhibited the skill level of Toney who had brazenly predicted a knockout over the man who had never been stopped in his career.

“It was embarrassing,” said Holyfield after the fight. “I stopped throwing punching because I couldn’t hit him.”

Before that fight Toney had promised Holyfield, who had just beaten Rahman the year before, he would stand right in front of him and knock him out.

“Anyone stands in front of me is going down,” Holyfield confidently replied during a press conference to promote their matchup.

Toney lived up to his promise and bobbed and weaved, slipped and countered and battered Holyfield until the fight was stopped in the ninth round. It was a feat Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Rahman were unable to accomplish.

“People say I beat a washed-up fighter,” Toney said after sparring on a Thursday afternoon. “Hasim Rahman couldn’t beat him a year earlier.”

In Toney’s world of confrontation and humiliation, the battle of words and accusations play right into his mindset. He was bred that way.

“I’m from D-Town baby, not the rap band. I’m talking about Detroit,” says Toney the former middleweight, super middleweight, cruiserweight and current IBA heavyweight title-holder. “All the great champions come from there like Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns. And James Toney.”

Toney explains to anyone within earshot that walking into the famous Kronk Gym on Detroit meant enduring verbal putdowns, physical challenges and daily provocations.

“Anyone going into that gym had to be able to handle it or get out,” he says.

After parrying the behind-the-back insults for nine years as easily as he does incoming punches, Toney proceeded to capture the IBF cruiserweight title and WBA heavyweight titles. The last title was stripped away because of steroids detected in his system.
Rahman views Toney as an over-hyped media creation.

“I honestly am not being cocky, I’m not being over confident, I’m trying to like expose James for the fraud that he is,” Rahman said. “I’m just going to punish him.”

Play Joe Frazier

In 1994, Toney was on top of the world as the media’s consensus best fighter pound-for-pound in the world. Then he met Roy Jones Jr. in a battle of super middleweight titleholders looking to unify and establish Hall of Fame credentials.

Toney lost that fight, big.

Jones proceeded to gather wins and titles like a lawnmower cutting grass on a lazy summer afternoon. It was methodical and often yawn-inspiring work. But he was unbeatable for 10 more years.

Meanwhile Toney attempted to prove to anyone who would listen that he was not a shot fighter and still possessed boxing skills that could shoot him to the top. It all seemed for naught until he was gingerly picked to play Joe Frazier in the motion picture “Ali” starring Will Smith.

“They were worried I was going to hurt Will,” said Toney, who was eventually selected for the part. “I wouldn’t do anything like that. I’m a nice guy unless you mess with me or step inside that ring and try and take what’s mine.”

After that movie, Toney was given a chance by promoter Dan Goossen, another boxing survivor whose epitaph was written before he was completely cold. Two men tabbed dead were like negative and positive battery posts when connected to each other, the sparks flew.

“Me and Dan have a good relationship,” Toney says of his promoter Goossen. “That’s why we get along.”

With Goossen-Tutor Promotions supporting him, Toney was able to face competition in front of television audiences who could see for themselves that his skill and talent were intact.

First came Jason Robinson in Temecula. For those remembering Toney’s last television appearance in Compton a year earlier against Wesley Martin, the shock of watching a fully prepared Lights Out was only surpassed by his knockout victory.

Next came the undefeated Vassiliy Jirov who held the IBF cruiserweight title. Toney had been chasing him for years to no avail. Finally with Goossen in his corner, the Michigan transplant backed by his trainer Freddie Roach moved into the biggest fight that division had ever staged.

Jirov, a gold medal winner during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, had held a tight hold on the cruiserweight title. With his tenacious attack and superb conditioning, the Kazakhstan national who had moved to Arizona and teamed with famed trainer Thel Torrance, was a slight favorite to defend his championship successfully.

That day, April 26, 2003, in Ledyard, Conn., both Jirov and Toney fired punches nonstop for 12 rounds with the clinching blow coming in the final round as the champion succumbed to the body shots and counterpunches for a brief time in dropping to the ground. He survived the onslaught but Toney had proved to be the superior fighter. From that moment on Toney’s skills were no longer a question mark. The majority of pessimists had to recognize erosion had not set anchor on Toney.

“James knows more about boxing than most people,” said Roach, whose patience and loyalty has led to more recognition in the sport. “I just try to help him see some things he can’t see while fighting. I’m his extra pair of eyes.”

The battle with Jirov was voted Fight of the Year by many publications and Toney had seemingly reached out from the dark canyon of obscurity into renewed fame as Lights Out II. He was also universally recognized as the Fighter of the Year for 2003.
Toney further shocked the boxing world by boldly moving into the realm of the heavyweights. His first victim: Evander Holyfield.

“I’ve always been a heavyweight,” professes Toney. “I was just a heavyweight in a middleweight’s body.”

Wins over Holyfield, Rydell Booker, John Ruiz and Dominick Guinn were interspaced by injuries, but now, he’s facing Rahman for the vacant WBC heavyweight title.

“He’s been calling me out, now he’s going to get what he wants,” Toney blurts out after sparring 10 rounds a week before the fight.

Rahman, a former champion whose right hand separated Lennox Lewis from his title in 2001 only to lose it to him seven months later, said Toney is too small his recent past suggests a problem.

“I don’t always keep very well against smaller guys. You know, I do well against taller guys,” Rahman said. “You know, he can’t just lay on the outside and beat me on the outside, so he got to come in. When he come in I’m going to punish him.”

Sitting on the edge of the ring, with sweat pouring down his face, Toney looks up calmly and delivers four words for Rahman and fight fans in general.

“Shut up and watch,” Toney says.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



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, 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



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


Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


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



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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