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Articles of 2006

“Broadway Boxing” Gets a TV Home of Its Own

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The local New York boxing scene took a major leap forward Tuesday with the announcement that its largest show will finally have a local televised home of its own.

“Broadway Boxing”, the series promoted by DiBella Entertainment, will now be televised in the New York metropolitan area on SportsNet New York (SNY), a new network begun just in March of this year which primarily features New York Mets’ games. Previously “Broadway Boxing” had been seen locally on the Madison Square Garden Network. The change takes effect immediately, as the April 20 “Broadway Boxing” show at the Manhattan Center will be shown on tape delay on SNY on Sunday night, April 30.

The switch to SNY was made, according to Lou DiBella, president of DiBella Entertainment, because of what he felt was an overall superior package offered by the new network.

“I think that we’re going to be very, very important to SportsNet New York,” said DiBella following a media conference Tuesday at Gallagher’s Steak House in Manhattan. “They’ve already talked to us about how they’re going to promote us: Putting us on a regular night. Giving us commercial time to promote ticket sales for our fights. Frankly, they offered me a better deal and made us feel like we were more important to them. And I think they’re going to be a great partner.”

“Broadway Boxing” never had a regular timeslot on the MSG Network, and for most fans finding when it was on was quite difficult. Now, according to DiBella, it will be on SNY the second Sunday after the live shows in a two-hour block. “Broadway Boxing” will remain on HDNet in high-definition television, as well as Fox Sports Net New England and Comcast Sportsnet Chicago.

“That was a big issue to me,” DiBella stated. “The fact that I’m going to have a regular home, a regular night, is a big deal for me. And I think that’s going to be much better for our viewers, much better for boxing fans, because you can’t watch it if you can’t find it.”

He also expects good ratings in this new television home. “We were doing terrific ratings when we were all over the place. I think we’re going to do even better ratings now that we have a home,” said DiBella.

Jon Litner, the president of SportsNet New York, whom DiBella said “is an old friend of mine,” agreed that a regular timeslot was essential to this show’s television success

“One of the things we’re going to do is try very hard to program a consistent window on Sunday nights so that fans know where they can find ‘Broadway Boxing’ on SportsNet New York,” said Litner right before the formal media conference began.

Litner explained that the new network had what he called four pillars of programming. The first three include televising as many as 125 Mets games; 230 hours of NFL programming centering around the New York Jets; and three nightly “SportsNite” shows focusing on New York sports news.

“The fourth pillar that we’re focused on is what we call special local New York sports. And ‘Broadway Boxing’ really fits that to a T,” said Litner.

The April 20 show is headlined by a fight between two top international fighters, bantamweight contenders Silence Mabuza (18-1, 15 KOs) of South Africa against Ricardo Vargas (39-11-3, 13 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico. The co-feature will be an eight-rounder between Brooklyn’s Curtis Stevens (11-0, 10 KOs), a super middleweight, against his most experienced opponent yet, former WBA junior middleweight champ Carl Daniels (49-7-1, 31 KOs). But DiBella stressed that the emphasis on “Broadway Boxing” will remain local.

“Honestly, SportsNet New York wants to provide New York talent, New York sports,” said DiBella. “So for the most part you’ll see Curtis Stevens, Kid Chocolate [Pete Quillin], the New York prospects, Gary ‘Kid’ Stark, Jerson Ravelo. These are the kind of kids that will continue to really dominate the shows. But now and then I want to, for good measure, I want to throw in something special. And that’s what we’re doing Thursday night, and we’ll continue to do more of that.”

He added, “Look, I’ve been losing money on the show. The show’s an investment in New York boxing. The show’s an investment in these fighters, to get them to the level of HBO and Showtime. So I think you’re already seeing high quality stuff. I think you’re going to see more of the same.”

Litner needed little convincing about the appeal of televised boxing.

“I fell in love with boxing during my ABC Sports days when I was helping to program ‘Wide World of Sports’,” he said. “We had a real strong commitment, a great history of doing some great fights.”

Then, as is all too well known, televised boxing was de-emphasized by the networks. “The fact is, the marketplace has sort of taken boxing off of some of the free television and even some of the basic cable, and put it onto pay-per-view. And that’s hurt, I think, the industry, because these fighters need to be exposed,” he stated.

That is where SNY comes in. “So what this is about is really exposing some real, great, young fighters in a town that has a rich, deep history of great fights,” he continued. “So we really are looking forward to working with Lou and really getting into the boxing world in a big way, putting some resources behind it, and bring it to what we think is a very loyal fan base of boxing fans, a really terrific marquee card on Sunday nights where they can enjoy some great fights and really get excited about boxing again.”

Said DiBella, “I just feel like I’m doing what’s best for my fighters and I’m doing what’s best for my company, and I’m really confident that they’re the right partner.” And, he added, “Not to mention the fact, I’m a lifelong Met fan.”

The first telecast will feature behind the microphones two veteran boxing announcers, Bob Papa and Steve Farhood, along with former lightweight contender Brian Adams.

Plus, SNY has a website with more information on it, at http://sny.tv

Also of note is that SNY was set up by some major players in the sports and television worlds. Its founders are Sterling Entertainment Enterprises, a media company formed by the owners of the New York Mets, along with cable and media giants Time Warner and Comcast. That guaranteed it good placement on their cable systems.

On Time Warner Cable in New York City, SNY was assigned channel 26, the first of a five-channel all-sports block including MSG, ESPN and ESPN2, and YES, the Yankees’ network. It bumped Fox Sports New York, owned by Time Warner’s media rivals at Fox, down to channel 79. SNY is also available in upstate New York and Bergen County, NJ, on Time Warner systems, in the New York metropolitan area on Cablevision channel 60, and on Comcast channel 77 in New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as nationally on DirecTV and the Dish Network.

While this is mainly good news so far for boxing fans, some recent actions by some other members of the Time Warner media monster were not.

HB-NO

Saturday’s replay of the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Zab Judah on the Time Warner-owned HBO took place a full week after the original April 8 live pay-per-view showing. That bout’s tenth-round brawl was the subject of a hearing this past Thursday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which resulted in trainer Roger Mayweather being fined and having his license revoked for at least a year.

The HBO replay, however, devoted less than one minute of coverage to this hearing, and added nothing new to what had been widely reported elsewhere. You would think that with this company’s huge 10-figure profits and media resources that they could provide more than this cheap, skimpy coverage.

For instance, they could have started to analyze exactly who was responsible for the brawl by showing it in slow-motion and still frames. So far most of the blame has been pinned on Roger Mayweather, who did instigate it by entering the ring after Judah’s blatant low blow and rabbit punch against his nephew Floyd Jr. But the tape seemed to show that referee Richard Steele was restraining Roger when Zab’s father and trainer Yoel Judah also charged into the ring and came at him from behind Steele. After this, mayhem ensued. During the brawl, it also appeared that Zab Judah hit Mayweather’s conditioning coach and adviser Leonard Ellerbe from behind.

This brawl has now been shown both live and on tape, and is still being widely discussed in the boxing world. Those with VCR’s or TiVo’s have replayed it themselves. But in the intervening week between the live fight and the replay, HBO offered no new insight into what had transpired.

Also not discussed with the wisdom of hindsight was referee Richard Steele’s missing of a second-round knockdown when, after a punch by Judah, the glove of the off-balance Mayweather touched the canvas (though it is doubtful this would have changed the scoring of round to 10-8 for Judah). Steele also said he missed the rabbit punch thrown by Judah after the low blow. A second look would have also been illuminating.

None of this was reviewed by HBO, so do it yourself it you still have the recording.

By the way, besides the usual nonsense for which HBO deserves all the criticism they get, they are doing at least one thing admirably. In the U.S., Saturday’s Byrd-Klitschko IBF heavyweight title fight from Germany will be shown live on HBO beginning at 5 PM EDT, and replayed later that evening.

SI NYET

Here is what the April 17, 2006, edition of Sports Illustrated wrote about the current heavyweight title picture: “After Sergei Liakhovich took Lamon Brewster's WBO heavyweight title two weeks ago, there are two Russian champions in the division. (Nikolay Valuev owns the WBA belt.) Two more Russians will fight for the WBC and IBF titles later this year.”

Here this Time Warner-owned periodical managed to get the names of the discredited alphabet soup sanctioning bodies handing out their various belts right, while getting the names of the countries from which Liakhovich and the unnamed Wladimir Klitschko and Oleg Maskaev come from wrong.

While Valuev is indeed from Russia, Liakhovich is from the former Soviet republic of Belarus while Klitschko calls Ukraine home and Maskaev was born in Kazakhstan. Identifying them all as Russians not only shows sloppy reporting, poor fact-checking, and unfamiliarity with these fighters, but also ignorance of the history and geography of that region. It is like saying that Ireland is part of England.

How can story lines on these fighters be constructed if those at this supposed leader in sports print journalism don’t even know this? They could, of course, easily check any number of Internet sources to find out the homelands of these fighters, as well as general information on these countries and their histories.

Oh, I forgot. The print guys look down on us Internet shlubs because they are so superior.

Which is why we look down on print – every time we wipe our shoes on their rags, which is the best remaining use for these obsolete forms of media.

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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