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Articles of 2006

Rahman-Toney Fight Predictions

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Live Saturday night from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, in a fight broadcast on HBO, Hasim Rahman defends his heavyweight crown against James “Lights Out” Toney. Toney’s tough and he knows it, talks the talk and has the skills to back it up. Rahman is more nuanced, harder to decipher, less developed in and out of the ring. Aside from a couple of amazing nights, Rock has let us down almost as many times as Toney has buoyed us up. But Saturday’s fight in A.C., while not for the whole ball of wax, has serious ramifications for the immediate future of the heavyweight division. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Hasim Rahman vs. James Toney.

How did Rahman get to this point? He defeated his good friend Monte Barrett in a tepid performance his last fight. Before that Rahman beat a collection of fighters that would best be described as average. He lost to John Ruiz. He lost to Holyfield when his head nearly exploded. He drew with David Tua in a boring fight, and Lennox Lewis knocked him out. Let's see – oh, that's right – before that he knocked out Lewis to become heavyweight champion. That's how he got here. He's still treading on the goodwill that beating Lewis brought him. Despite that victory, I don't think much of Rahman. He was involved in a terrific brawl with the South African Corrie Sanders, which he won and he looked good against David Tua the first time they met, but what has he done lately? Beat Monte Barrett? At least James Toney defeated John Ruiz (albeit on steroids) and has fought some decent guys with good records in the last couple of years. I'll go with the hungrier fighter here, which is Toney, literally and figuratively. I think Toney wants to prove himself at heavyweight while Rahman is just cashing-in another big-fight check. So Toney by decision.
Mitch Abramson

It's hard to see Toney losing this one. He's smarter, quicker and just plain better than Rahman, whose inconsistency over the last six years is legendary. Rahman's only chance is to lean on Toney and make it a rough-and-tumble affair, but he'll likely be outworked by Toney's brilliant counterpunches, especially at close range. Rahman may have been exposed in the Lennox Lewis rematch, when he was shut out before being flattened with a perfect right hand. Rock is good, but he's not a Hall-of-Famer. Toney is. “Lights Out” by split decision.
Matthew Aguilar

As much as I want to root for James Toney, I can't help but think of an equipment malfunction caused by Toney's bulging belly and love handles blowing out shorts. Can they stop a fight if a boxer blows out his britches? Indeed, I fear we'll find out Saturday. I also fear James Toney might not have the stamina he needs to face off with Hasim Rahman, especially if Toney has 260 or more pounds on his 5-foot-9 frame. That's just not a good combination. While it's a “free” broadcast put on by HBO, Toney's weight does leave an alarming task for the broadcast crew. How in the world will Jim Lampley or Larry Merchant be heard with the ever-increasing wheeze coming from Toney? I know it's not a beauty contest, but conditioning is still part of boxing for a reason. Rahman will win this before all the rounds play out – much to my dismay.
Jesse K. Cox

James Toney is short, fat, old and bald, but he's still one of the best fighters of our generation. Rahman is, well, taller. Toney puts Hasim's “Lights Out” in the 10th.
Rick Folstad

My prediction is tempered by the fact I was able to witness Rahman in camp, while I haven't seen Toney. What I do know is Rahman is in tremendous shape and that he can slug. I don't know what type of condition Toney is in, and I don't know if he can take a true heavyweight punch. I'm confident Toney's elusive style will make Rahman look foolish at times, but I also think Rahman's trainer, Thell Torrance, will figure out the puzzle. Torrance has been in the corner of several Toney opponents, including Montell Griffin (two wins over Toney), Mike McCallum (draw, majority decision for Toney) and Vassiliy Jirov (fight of the year). I'm leaning toward Rahman, but it will have to be by knockout because if it goes the distance, Toney's boxing skills likely will have won him enough rounds.
Tim Graham

After reading all the press, the stellar article on the history of both fighters’ trainers, I am going to go with James Toney. No years of boxing wisdom on the written page OR in the ring are going into this decision – I just prefer Toney to Rahman. Like him or not he's a force with a personality and the skills to take the championship. The fight will go the distance and Toney will be the winner by UD.
Amy Green

James will quit on his stool when a seven-course meal, paid for by the Rock, is served between rounds and he loses all animosity towards his opponent. And let's be perfectly clear: these are two very flawed fighters and no one should mistake this for a terrific match. In his prime, Greg Page would have beaten both guys easily. The best reason to watch is to see if at any point Rahman lands atop Jim Lampley's head. Rahman TKO9 Toney.
Michael Katz

When you look back at their respective fights against John Ruiz it becomes difficult to make a compelling case for Rahman. Using Ruiz as a barometer might not be fair, but think about it: When he and Rahman went at it in Atlantic City it looked like Ruiz was fighting Ruiz for 12 rounds. Contrast that with all the trouble Toney gave the Quiet Man and (if you discount the steroid angle) this one shapes up as a comfortable win for Toney – in a pretty ugly fight.
George Kimball

I've made a rule that I don't bet against James Toney, but the same rule doesn't apply to making predictions. So I'll go against Toney here, but certainly not with my wallet, when he faces a top heavyweight in Hasim Rahman. I don't count Rydell Booker and Holyfield as real heavyweights, and John Ruiz is, well, John Ruiz, while Dominick Guinn has disappointed everyone. Still, Toney won those bouts and that is why he is here now. In the past Rahman has fought at the level of his opposition but under new trainer Thel Torrance I have seen a lot to like in the Rock. If he fights with a focus on the jab and hammering over the top with his big right hand, Rahman can control the bout. He should pepper Toney to the ample midsection to take some steam out of Lights Out. If he stays to a similar game plan he can win, if he fights in close it will be Toney's fast hands and countering that steal the bout. I don't make any bones about James Toney's weight, he can come in as heavy as he wants and still last 12 rounds and win; he knows how to apply Economics to the Sweet Science so forget about weight issues. Rahman has kept his weight in check recently – around 235 – and I think he will be fine as well. This is a tough, close fight to call and I wanted to call it a Draw, but that's not much of a prediction, so let's make it Rahman by Split Decision as this one should go the route.
Joey Knish

I once made an unforgivable error: I picked Dominick Guinn to beat Toney. I didn't feel secure about my pick, but I had this feeling a perfect Guinn might materialize and edge out a blubbery, lazy, unfocused Toney. Boy, was I wrong. Worse, the pick felt like a betrayal. After pummeling Jirov, Holyfield, and Ruiz…and considering his matchless skills, smarts, and toughness, I vowed never to pick against him. Or if I did – Vitali Klitschko might've been a tall order? – think looooooong and hard about it. I make no bones about it, I love the guy! I love the way he fights, I love the way he trash talks. I even find him oddly charming. None of this would count if he wasn't such a Winner.  n the other hand, Hasim Rahman, Goliath, is he a “winner”? Well, one fated night he was. But there have been many others when he was just another underachieving big man. I believe Toney when he says the bigger the better. He brings Aikido principles to the ring, using another's strength and energy against him; the more they give, the more he takes. (A greater threat to him would be a speedy mover who won't stand and fight.) Toney by UD.
Zachary Levin

There’s an episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza decides he’s been making the wrong choices in life because he always says and does what he thinks. When he chooses opposite of what he normally would choose, he has amazing success. My heart tells me a decent heavyweight should blow through a decent middleweight, possibly even knocking him out ala Johnson-Ketchel. Rahman may be a chronic underachiever but should still be able to take Toney, however the George Costanza in me tells me Toney just might beat up the larger Rahman, showing us all why sometimes it pays not to mess with bullies. Sometimes bullies are bullies not because they’re full of bravado but because they enjoy beating people up. Toney will taunt, confuse and spank Rahman en route to a unanimous decision via the Fatman factor.
Scott Mallon

The fact that Rahman was training for Vitali Klitschko should give him an edge, but he has become very lethargic lately. Toney is always somewhat lethargic, but is so gifted he can win fights on talent alone. Although I had publicly picked Rahman a few weeks ago, as the fight nears I'm favoring Toney to win as he always does – by conducting a boxing clinic. Toney W 12.
Bob Mladinich

This fight is another interesting one. With this, as well as Klitschko vs. Byrd and the Brewster title fight all in the near future, the deteriorating division will finally have some clarity. Rahman vs. Toney all depends on which versions of the two show up on Saturday night. If James Toney can come in around 225 or 230 he should be able to win this fight with ease. Hasim Rahman can even that out though if he has his own weight under control. Rahman's greatest performance as of late was his four round destruction of Kali Meehan back in 2004 in which he was a lean, chiseled 232. Due to V. Klitschko the coward, Rahman has been pretty inactive in the past year and a half but I don't see it hurting him too much. Both fighters have the tools to beat each other, Rahman with his vicious jab and jackhammer right cross, and Toney with his elusive counter punching style and amazing speed (even as a fat man). However Rahman keeps claming he’s going to stand in front of Toney and KO him. This is where I see Rahman losing a title that he never even won. We have all seen time and time again, regardless of weight class and body fat percentage, that James Toney is at his absolute best when his opponents stand in the pocket and try to take his head off. I'll take James Toney by a less than spectacular, yet a well thought out UD.
Alex Stone

Hasim Rahman is a murderous puncher. If the “Rock” consistently connects his punches to James Toney, he will easily retain his title. However, my feeling is that Toney’s quicker reflexes will control the fight and “Lights Out” will counterpunch his way to a fourth belt. Toney by unanimous decision.
Aaron Tallent

Last time, I went with the puncher over the boxer. The puncher, Lacy, got worked over. This time I'm choosing the boxer, Toney, over the puncher. Both times, my pick has echoed the wisdom of the oddsmakers. Toney UD12.
Michael Woods

The primary question regarding this contest may be whether or not the fight itself, whoever wins, can bring some positive reviews back to a heavyweight division overshadowed by many lighter classes for many moons. It's only about a fifty-fifty chance at best these guys go at it full tilt for any extended amount of time. Toney will grapple much the way he did against John Ruiz, and if Rahman can't back Toney up, Rahman will probably get slapped around inside and lose a boring decision. The pick here is that Rahman is strong enough to move Toney into punching range and threaten enough damage to keep James in too much of a defensive mode. Rahman stays effectively aggressive enough to take a 116-114 decision.
Phil Woolever

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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