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Articles of 2006

Of Butter and Demons: Augustus in Winter

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TOHONO O”ODHAM NATION – Emanuel Augustus sat alone at a makeshift press table and stared blankly at the handful of tape recorders placed before him. The long and winding road of his slap time sojourn had taken another disappointing detour Friday night at Desert Diamond Casino, with a surprising, questionable unanimous decision loss to Arturo Morua.

Now Augustus gazed at his hands as if there might be some basic boxing truth they had failed to grasp. His previously troubled left fist was still completely wrapped while his right was bare. His eyes moved sadly from one set of contrasted fingers to the other as he pondered the symbolic separation.

“I just don’t believe he beat me,” said Augustus. “I’m always fighting underdog type fights in people’s backyard. A fighter can only take much. It’s been an uphill battle all the time. I get to square A but I can’t get past B. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity for a while. I get it in my hands and it passes me by. Whatever it is, it’s made out of butter, so I can’t hold on to it. Sympathy is not what I expect or what I want. I’ve just got all these demons on my back.”

To this observer, Augustus deserved an honorable mention for 2005 Fighter of the Year based solely on his show of integrity and compassion against a helpless Ray Olivera. It was one of the most inspiring scenes of the season.

Over the years, Augustus may have come to embody the honest journeyman. He endeared himself to the Desert Diamond regulars with a stirring stoppage of Alex Trujillo in 2004 and looked to update his progress.

Morua showed up with other ideas, carrying the resolve and conditioning he needed.

It was a fast paced fight from the beginning, with few rest intervals. Shorter Augustus charged in well and got off to a good start. Some of Morua’s counters echoed to the ohhs of the crowd, but they landed against the protective shell of Augustus’s arms.

Morua did come over the top with enough solid rights to get many in the crowd on his side. Augustus smiled when he got slugged, but it didn’t change the fact that Morua was scoring plenty of points. Morua wasn’t going to be put off by theatrics.

Augustus consistently drove Morua to the ropes, but Morua stayed on his toes well and avoided any real danger. There were no punch stats taken, but each man threw and landed dozens of hard punches. It became a game of high stakes tag, and the action went back and forth every frame.

Morua suffered a cut left eye in the sixth, but it was never a factor. Augustus smiled through a bloody lip.

Morua was more effective in the later rounds, but Augustus gained control in round ten with a series of sweet lefts. It was anybody’s fight going into the stretch, and fair to call many rounds even.

When the official scoring (Gerald Maltz and Joe Garcia 116-112, Chris Wilson 117-111, all for Morua) was announced many were shocked, but it sounded like just as many or more agreed. An informal exit poll gave a slight but definite edge to Morua. This card had Augustus up 116-112. Ref was Bobby Ferrara.

Augustus was shattered but he maintained his dignity and offered nothing but praise for Morua, who’s lumpy, discolored facial features indicated a far closer fight than the scorecards indicated.

“He was laughing, but he wasn’t moving,” said Morua. “He tried to break me down physically, but nothing hurt me. His smiles kind of made me relax. He was pressuring me but he wasn’t connecting hard.”

Augustus had red spots on his mug too, but most had nothing to do with a leather facial.

“Chickenpox, can you believe that? How does a 31-year-old man get chickenpox?” asked Augustus. “I won’t disrespect Morua’s talent. He’s an OK fighter. I can’t talk about the scoring because I didn’t score it. I’m not the type to come up with excuses. He got the decision and was the better man today. I was unsure of my left hand which hurt in sparring, but I can’t say it affected tonight.”

With or without a Golden Boy Star on hand to pump up the promotion, Desert Diamond has an established fight crowd. There was no TV broadcast, but a bunch of local boys stepped up for a debutante’s ball and proved they could entertain as well as more heralded stars in a cable show package. The crowd of over 1,600 cheered most of the way.

Ivan Valle, 134½, 24-5-1 (20), Los Moches, MX, and William Morelos, 137, 16-4 (11), Columbia, were the best performing pair of the evening. Each man had strong moments and each man came back after absorbing huge shots. Valle was troubled, but roared back to drop Morelos. Ref Nico Perez waved it off without protest from Morelos or his corner for a stoppage at 2:38 of round four. It looked like they could fight a hundred rounds and any one could go either way. Valle looks like a tough test for anyone in his division. 

Lonnie Smith, Jr, 131½, 1-0, direct from Vegas, showed more skill than most first time pros as he dismantled game but outgunned Javier Flores, 131, 1-2, Nogales. Smith deflated Flores with gutshots for two knockdowns, and referee Ray Scott counted him out at 35 seconds of the third frame. 

Ramiro Rivera, 153½, 1-1(1), gained some area bragging rights over fellow Phoenician Tomas Padron, 152, 2-3-2, with a TKO at 2:15 of the second in a set four rounds. Padron was down three times, the last while a woman with a crying baby screamed for Padron to get up. Fighter and Baby were reunited on the way back to the dressing room, and both looked better. The sweet science, indeed.

Juan Garcia, 128, 7-0 (2), took a unanimous decision over optimistic Raul Montes, 129, 3-8 (2). The useful Montes made it a tough tutorial, but Garcia had far more obvious ability. All judges (Francisco Baez, Craig Harmon, Gerald Maltz) saw it 40-35 (Montes lost a point for holding and hitting). Referee was Bobby Ferrara.

It’s almost a Diamond tradition that the walkout bout steals the show and tonight was no exception as Tucson’s Rudy Gamez, a popular high school student, 140, took a wild, split, four round nod over Jose Valdez, 142½, Phoenix, 0-1. Referee was Nico Perez.

Birthday boy ref Ray Scott got a ringside chorus that was nowhere near the range of his Arizona fight film collection. Many more, amigo.

It’s a stroll of roughly 55 meters along light-adorned, thorny southwestern shrubs, from the Diamond Center arena to the casino complex. Once again, a herd of satisfied customers passed along, thoughts shifting to the weekend’s next diversion or bargain burrito.

For Augustus, it was time to head home again. Get fresh bruises, get a paycheck, and get back on the road.

“I’ve always accepted whatever it is I got,” said the wayfaring artist, with resolve. “I’m almost depressed. You can only deal with disappointment for so long. As far as I’m concerned, my career is a question mark, but I’ll keep going as long as I can to reach my goals. I work hard and stay in shape and do the best I can. I don’t know if I’ll get there, but I want to put my hands on Floyd Mayweather Jr or Ricky Hatton.”

A chilling, pre-storm wind had subsided. The moon grew full with light, with dreams. 

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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