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Articles of 2006

An Elegy for The Toy Bulldog



The man whom this article is about is dead. He was a fighter. That’s why I want you to read it…

…I am nine. It’s my weekend with Dad, we’re in the kitchen eating dinner and he’s talking fights, telling me about the colorful fighters of his generation. I hear the cheering crowds and I smell the smoky air in far off arenas. I see Jack Dempsey, The Manassa Mauler, getting punched so hard in The Polo Grounds he’s flying out of the ring only to scramble back in to knock out Luis Firpo, The Wild Bull of the Pampas. I see angry Jack Johnson climbing off the canvas and belting double-crossing Stanley Ketchel so hard that Ketchel’s two front teeth are snapped off at the gum-line; one tooth is found later embedded in Johnson’s glove. I see the great lightweight champ, Ad Wolgast, The Michigan Wildcat, stumbling around the sanitarium. I shiver when I see his nurse rocking the punch-drunk champ to sleep. He calls her “Mama.”

I smile at my favorite story – Mickey Walker, The Toy Bulldog. He was a tough welter and middleweight champion in the 1920s and Dad says his rugged face was the kind that would give a Marine sergeant pause in a bar fight. He was a scrappy Irishman so fierce he beat heavyweights – men 100 pounds heavier than himself. I see The Toy Bulldog slugging Jack Sharkey, a heavyweight champion, to a highly contested draw. The Toy Bulldog is the personification of: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

* * *

I’m now 10. It’s another weekend with Dad. We’re walking down 42nd Street in New York City. Dad’s a struggling songwriter and his small office is on Tin Pan Alley, next to Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant. He’s taking me to Dempsey’s for cheesecake!

As we walk, Dad’s telling me his boxing stories. In my mind, I’m seeing Battling Siki, the colorful Senegalese champ, prance down the street with his pet lion tethered to a leash…

…Pow!  Pow! Pow! I’m hearing gunshots as 27-year-old welterweight, Al “Bummy” Davis, dies on the sidewalk in a pool of blood in 1945, gunned down by mobsters…

…I’m watching Lorenzo Pack, a black heavyweight in the 1930s, getting thumbed in the eye by Two Ton Tony Galento at the Convention Hall in Philadelphia…

“Look!” Dad suddenly points to a man wearing a gray overcoat. He’s standing on the corner of 8th Avenue. His slick, gray hair needs cutting and he needs a shave.

“Excuse me,” says Dad, walking up to him, “may we have your autograph?”

The man smiles, takes my father’s pen, and kneels down beside me. “‘Ello, laddie, what’s yer name?”


I watch the pen dance upon the paper. His scarred face is squinting with concentration and he’s writing a long time. When he hands back his autograph, I read: To my friend Peter – Mickey Walker. Below his autograph is a sketch of a toy bulldog.

After Mickey Walker retired from the ring, he reinvented himself as an artist. He gained acclaim as a primitive oil painter, and in 1953 authored an autobiography entitled “Will To Conquer – A Great Champion Speaks From the Heart.” But his true artistry was within the ring. It’s there that he attained elite status. Boxing historians rate him with Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey and Benny Leonard. Bert Sugar’s book, “Boxing’s Greatest Fighters,” rates Mickey Walker behind Jack Johnson, as the eleventh greatest fighter of all time.

* * *

I’m now 23. Twelve years have passed. I open the Daily News and read that The Toy Bulldog is found lying in a Brooklyn gutter. Walker is sent to the Jewish Memorial Hospital where he’s cleaned up and tucked between two white sanforized sheets. There isn’t much more they can do for him. He’s suffering from Parkinson’s disease, arteriosclerosis, low blood pressure, amnesia, anemia, and he’s 73 years old.  He’s also alcoholic and punch-drunk.

I go to the hospital to visit The Toy Bulldog. The receptionist tells me Mr. Walker is resting in a single room in the geriatric ward. I buy one dozen red roses (though I’m sure his room is already full of them) and ride the elevator up. There are so many questions I want to ask this boxing immortal.

When I reach his room, I knock on the door. “Hello? I walk in. “Mr. Walker?”

He’s sitting up in bed. “Oy! ’ello, laddie!”

“You probably don’t remember me,” I say softly, “but when I was ten you gave me your autograph.”

“Ah, me boy!  I remember ye! On 42nd Street, right?”

“You remember?”

He nods.

Suddenly, I’m ten again, with my dad walking down 42nd Street. “Mr. Walker, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

“Oy!  Course not!” He looks around his clean, brightly lit room and grins. “I be going nowhere.”

“Mr. Walker, who was your toughest fight?”

“Oy! Tiger Flowers! No…maybe ‘twas Harry Greb.”

“Who hit the hardest?” 

“Bejesus, what a question! Well, ‘twas Sharkey. What a right hand!” This is great! I’m talking to the great Toy Bulldog, a boxing immortal! “What was your best boxing move?” I ask.

“Ah, ‘tis secret!” he winks. “‘Twas a feint to yer midsection – right to yer kisser!”

Of course this conversation never took place, it was only in my mind. I step into a dimly lit room. Inside is a thin man lying in bed. His arms and legs are gently wobbling; his head tremors. Is this the correct room? Is this sad, flesh-colored thing the great Toy Bulldog?

I walk closer. I look at the man’s flat nose. I shiver. It’s still a rugged face that would give a sergeant pause in a bar fight.

“Hello,” my voice cracks.

He looks up.

“Mr. Walker, my dad I are fans…and I just wanted to give you these.” I hand him his 12 red roses. He doesn’t reach for them, so I place them on the metal tray attached to his bed. Under his all-over-the-place nose I spot a smile. His eyes moisten. He tries to lift himself up, but can’t. He tries to speak, but can’t. However, under his flat nose I read his lips, he’s trying to say, “Beautiful.” And they are. But, sadly, they’re only ones in his room.

I no longer want to ask him who his toughest fight was, or who hit him the hardest. I’m trespassing and I want to leave. But before I do, I lean over, reach in, and touch his hand. Each of his once powerful fingers is now soft and swollen like sausage.

“Good night, Mr. Walker,” I say, turning to leave. But suddenly I remember something.  Something important. This something might put a smile on his face. I reach into my briefcase and pull out a framed piece of paper protected under glass. I hold it up for The Toy Bulldog to see. His autograph.

His moist eyes are blank.  Does he remember who he is?

I close the door and leave. This boxing immortal is now a harmless old man lying in a bed with white sheets, red roses, and moist eyes. I want to take him with me to Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant. We’ll sit at a table by the window and laugh as sunlight streams down upon our faces. We’ll talk Greb and Sharkey and Flowers and order juicy steaks with plenty of onions and mashed potatoes and we’ll top it off with cheesecake.

* * *

If The Toy Bulldog died in the ring after a fight one night in the 1920’s, he would have died a hero, a martyr. But the eleventh greatest fighter of all time died in 1981 between two white sanforized sheets in a hospital bed – a pug. A lousy forgotten pug with a dozen red roses by his side.

That makes no sense at all.

It’s so unfair.

What a crazy sport.

(Peter Wood is a 1971 New York City Golden Gloves middleweight finalist. He is the author of the boxing novel, “To Swallow A Toad.” His boxing memoir, “A Clenched Fist—Confessions of a Former Fighter,” is seeking publication.)

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia



There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9


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

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10


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

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

David A. Avila



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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