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Articles of 2006

The 100th Anniversary of Primo Carnera

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This year is the 100th anniversary of Primo Carnera’s birth. The Ambling Alp was born on October 26, 1906 in Sequals (in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy) and died there on June 29, 1967. Many events are being scheduled to celebrate his birthday, which may sound strange if you think about the low consideration that the giant always received from journalists and most people in the boxing business. They always said that Carnera was a joke who was thrown into the ring like an attraction because of his size (6’5½, 260 pounds) and origin (he would be welcomed by the millions of Italian immigrants in the United States).

While it is true that Carnera was launched into the hands of the media right after his arrival in America and was hyped so much that everybody wanted to see him fight even before he gave any proof that he was skilled, it is also true that a bum couldn’t have convinced huge crowds to pay good money for a ticket. On June 23, 1930 in Philadelphia (PA) 35,000 people filled the Baker Bowl to see Primo Carnera battle George Godfrey. Okay, it was more a brawl than a boxing match and it ended with Godfrey’s disqualification for a low blow during the fifth round, but the fighters exchanged many hard punches and it wouldn’t have been the case if it was fixed. The ugliness of that contest, didn’t diminish the interest of the fans toward Carnera.

In his following fight, the Italian KOed Ed Wright with a straight right to the head in the fourth stanza. Wright was sent hurtling out of the ring. The United Press wrote: So terrific was the impact of the blow that Wright snapped the middle strand clean as he went down and out.  On November 30, 1930 in Barcelona (Spain) Carnera defeated on points Paulino Uzcudun drawing 75,000 people. On May 15, 1932 in Milan (Italy) Carnera made short work (TKO 3) of Hans Schonrath to the joy of 20,000 fans. Only two weeks after that, more than 70,000 Englishmen filled the White City Stadium in London to see local favorite Larry Gains outbox Carnera to get an unanimous decision after ten rounds. None of those fights had a title on the line, so why did so many people came out to see Carnera if he was a joke?

Assuming that so many fellas in the United States, Italy, Spain and England cannot be all stupid, the answer must be that Primo Carnera was a good heavyweight with an exceptional size (for his time) that added excitement to his fights. I have tapes of Carnera’s fights against Godfrey, Jack Sharkey and Ray Impelletiere and I can legitimately say that Primo was much better than he was credited for: he was effective with his jabs and straight hands, delivered serious damage with his hooks and uppercuts and could punch while back-pedalling. How many boxers can do that? I have a tape of Muhammad Ali’s knocking down Cleveland Williams while moving backward, but I haven’t seen any of today’s champions doing that. Some boxers even tell to reporters that real warriors must always come forward and that’s what they do (yeah, and that’s why they get KOed).

Besides, if Carnera’s size was the only reason for hyping him why the top dogs of the boxing world didn’t hype Ray Impelletiere who was even bigger than Carnera? Because Impelletiere was just a big bum; in fact, his career lasted only 16 bouts (9 won and 7 lost). Another common story about Carnera is his lack of courage. When he lost the title to Max Baer, Carnera went down eleven times before the referee stopped the massacre. This means that The Ambling Alp got up eleven times: did anybody have the courage to call it a lack of guts? How many so called champions went down after one not-so-devastating blow? At least three heavyweight champions come to mind…

And now let’s take into consideration the fight which turned Primo Carnera into a world champion: the one against Jack Sharkey. It happened on June 29, 1933 in Long Island City (New York State). If that match was a fix, the two boxers would have exchanged light blows until Sharkey would have put down one of his hands to let Carnera hit him with a clean hook to the jaw (or to the chin). Instead, Carnera and Sharkey hit each other many times with heavy punches until Carnera delivered a huge uppercut at the American’s chin sending him down for the final count. If you see the tape, you will notice that Carnera’s uppercut came in a confused moment when Sharkey was just trying to stay away from the Italian. Looking more closely, you’ll see Sharkey’s head going up because of the power of Carnera’s uppercut. If you doubt that such a blow could knock you out, let a 260-pounder hit you at full force (and Carnera’s uppercut was delivered after a large swing).

In defending Carnera’s power, I won’t mention the death of Ernie Schaaf (February 10, 1933) because we all know that a boxer can be killed by anybody, by just one punch. Besides, it’s not certain that Carnera’s blows where the reason of Schaaf’s death. On October 5, 1931 Time magazine put Carnera on its cover. That was seven days prior to his first battle with Sharkey, which the Italian lost on points (and he went down in the fourth round). Do you think that the editor in chief of Time couldn’t tell the difference between a legitimate fighter and a bum? I don’t think so. Then, why we have heard for so many decades a lot of people underrating Primo Carnera? Probably because of the large number of fights which were fixed in the 1930s and 1940s. Was Carnera involved in some fixes? Maybe, but everybody says that he didn’t know about it. The second-best reason to fix a fight is giving a boost of confidence to the winner. Was the title match fixed?

Humprey Bogart’s character in “The Harder They Fall” says that you can’t fix a champ. About that movie, based on Carnera’s life: it is unrealistic the way the main character (Toro Moreno) gets hurt after just one light shot to the face. Such a fragile guy would never get anybody investing money in him. The people who don’t believe that Carnera was good have a point if you look at the last part of the Italian’s career. Primo Carnera’s last fights were poor showings. He shouldn’t have had those fights because he just added losses to his record. He understood it was time to hang up the gloves after he lost three in a row to Luigi Musina, but Musina was a fighter good enough to win titles in two weight divisions: he became Italian and European light heavyweight champion and won the Italian heavyweight belt. Musina closed his career with 38 wins (18 KOs), 9 losses and 5 draws. He KOed Carnera in seven rounds and beat him on points twice. Probably, Musina would have given trouble to Carnera even when The Ambling Alp was in his prime.

All in all, the best answer to Carnera’s critics is the fact that 73 years after he won the world title we are still talking about him. Do you think that 73 years from now somebody will be talking about today’s heavyweight champions? I don’t think so.

Primo Carnera
Born in Sequals (Italy) on October 26, 1906
Pro debut in 1928
Last fight in 1946
He fought in the United States, France, Germany, Spain, England, Canada, Italy, Argentina, Brazil and Hungary. He always drew large crowds proving to be an international star.
Record: 88 wins (70 KOs) and 15 losses
On June 29, 1933 in Long Island City (NY), he defeats Jack Sharkey (KO 6) and becomes world heavyweight champion.
On October 22, 1933 in Rome (Italy), he beats on points Paulino Uzcudun and retains the title. This is Carnera’s second win against Uzcudun and the most difficult: after 15 rounds, Italian judges gave him just a split decision. So much for partisan verdicts.
On March 1, 1934 in Miami (FL), he retains the belt with a unanimous decision over Tommy Loughran.
On June 14, 1934 in Long Island City (NY), he loses the title to Max Baer (TKO 11). Carnera gets knocked down eleven times before the referee stops the bout.

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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