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Articles of 2006

Juan Diaz’s Stern Test

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Juan Diaz holds the WBA lightweight title but don’t tell anybody.

In over a year the likeable Houston native has been unable to defend his title but now faces a stern test against Puerto Rico’s Jose Miguel Cotto (27-0) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday.

It should be early fireworks.

No other division can claim more talent than the lightweights with a list of more than 20 fighters holding credible credentials to vie for a world title. The two other titleholders are scary enough.

Who is ready for Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez or the winner between Acelino Freitas and Zahir Raheem?

“Those are fights I would love to have,” says Diaz (28-0, 14 KOs) who probably couldn’t tell a lie if you paid him. “and right now, you know, my main concern is Jose Cotto.”

Because of cancellations Diaz has been stuck in limbo and last fought in July and it was more than a year ago that he defended his WBA title against Billy Irwin in January 2005.

“It’s been a tough couple of months for me…I haven’t fought,” Diaz, 22, said during a telephone press conference. “Everyone knows I used to fight every three to four months.”

The lapse in boxing matches also affected his college studies. He currently attends the University of Houston.

“I could have taken some more classes.”

When Diaz first made his pro appearance after the 2000 Olympics, many wrote him off as a kid with a lot of heart but little else.

The critical moment came May 10, 2003, against Eleazar Contreras at the Pechanga Resort and Casino where Diaz rose from a knockdown to rally to a close decision victory over the tough Bakersfield fighter. The bout was televised.

His next crucial battle took place at the same casino when he knocked out fellow prospect Martin O’Malley in two rounds. Once again it was televised and a new star was born.

Feeling it was time, Diaz’s promoter Main Events, matched him with WBA lightweight titleholder Lavka Sim July 17, 2004 in Houston.

It was a massacre.

Diaz proved his guts, speed and youth were too much for the heavy-handed Sim to gauge. It was a decisive wipe out by unanimous decision.

Cotto, the challenger, has only had one close call in 10 years of pro boxing. That came against a much smaller Bobby Boy Velardez in August 2000. The Puerto Rican gained a majority decision but many felt San Bernardino’s Velardez won that televised fight.

“Bobby Boy almost knocked him out but didn’t get any break,” said Armando Velardez the father and trainer of Bobby Boy. “We got cheated that day.”

Cotto stated in a press release that’s he’s anxious to win the world title and join his younger brother Miguel Cotto as world champions.

Diaz, ever the humble warrior, expects a big challenge.

“Well, I’ve seen him fight and I know he’s a strong puncher,” Diaz said. “He comes forward, I come forward it should be a great action fight.”

Jorge Arce vs. Rosendo Alvarez

Mexico’s Jorge Arce (43-3-1) faces a stiff challenge in Nicaragua’s Rosendo Alvarez (32-2-2). Already it’s a blood feud with both sides firing verbal assaults.

Arce hasn’t lost a fight since 1999 when he lost the mini-flyweight title to Michael Carbajal in a fight he was winning until he ran into a desperation right hand from Little Hands of Stone.

But get this. He’s been fighting professionally since age 16. He captured the WBO light flyweight title when he was just 19.

Known as El Travieso, the mischievous one, a couple of years back he took part on a Mexican reality television show where he cracked people up with his clowning. The program was kind of like our own Surreal Life reality show. Overnight his fame in Mexico and throughout Latin America exploded. Though he was already a world champion, more people know Travieso as the guy from the television show. It was his television fame that thrust him back from flyweight oblivion.

But the guy could always fight.

After relinquishing the WBC light flyweight title more than two years ago, he fought Juan Centeno in a WBC flyweight title elimination bout and was handed a so-called interim title. He’s had that moniker since. Six consecutive opponents have suffered at the hands of the almost maniacal Arce.

The Los Mochis native had a bloodbath against Hussein Hussein where most of the blood was his. And he laughed about it. Poor Hussein was bludgeoned after 10 rounds in their first encounter and blown out in their second.

Arce is for real. Now he faces the legendary tough man Alvarez.

“He’s been talking a lot of trash but he’s too old to be fighting someone like me,” Arce said. “He’s days are gone and I’m going to permanently close his career.”

Alvarez hasn’t physically lost to an opponent since being out-scored by the great Ricardo “Finito” Lopez who retired undefeated. It was Alvarez who came closest to blemishing Lopez record when he fought the Mexican to a draw. Now he promises to end Arce’s win streak. The Nicaraguan lost by disqualification in 2000 but that’s all. He hasn’t fought below 112 pounds since 2004.

In fact, Beibis Mendoza, who was given the win because of a referee’s decision to disqualify Alvarez for alleged low blows, fought the Nicaraguan three more times. He was defeated in each subsequent battle.

Alvarez comes to fight.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Back Again

The son of the great Julio Cesar Chavez returns to the ring after a solid performance that didn’t quite appeal to some boxing fans. He beat Carlos Molina by majority decision and many fans felt he was given a gift. Their first bout ended in a draw. Chavez Jr. has sound technical tools that he employs throughout the fight, but in spite of a height advantage, he fights small. He can’t do that against Tijuana’s Rodrigo Juarez, a hard-hitting junior welterweight. Oddly, Juarez is managed by Chavez’s manager Rodolfo Chavez. Is this a coincidence or a set-up?

Chavez has lost some of the luster he had just a year ago. The fans are tired of set-ups and of his inability to knock guys out. But it had to happen sooner or later. The opponents are just getting better.

Maybe Chavez needs to return to Riverside, California where he began his boxing career.

Southern Cal fights coming up

Great Britain’s Audley Harrison leads a group of promising young heavyweights at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage on Friday April 14.

Harrison (19-1) attempts to get back to winning ways against skillful Dominick Guinn (25-3-1) in a 10-round bout. Guinn’s last bout came in a losing effort to James Toney, no shame in that. Guinn also lost to new WBO champion Sergei Liakhovich. Harrison lost to fellow Brit Danny Williams, the guy who stopped Mike Tyson.

Also on the card will be Riverside’s Chris Arreola in an eight-round bout and Nigeria’s Teke Oruh in a four rounder. For tickets or information call (888) 999-1995.

Fights on television

Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Nate Campbell (28-4-1) vs. Isaac Hlatshwayo (23-0)
Fri. Telefutura, 9 p.m., Juan Lopez (10-0) vs. Alberto Chuc (18-5-2)
Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Floyd Mayweather Jr. (35-0) vs. Zab Judah (34-3); Juan Diaz (28-0) vs. Jose Cotto (27-0); Jorge Arce (43-3-1) vs. Rosendo Alvarez (32-2-2).

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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