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Articles of 2006

Byrd-Klitschko Fight Predictions

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Tomorrow afternoon from Mannheim, Germany, via HBO, Chris Byrd defends his IBF heavyweight title against challenger Wladimir Klitschko. The two men met in 2000 and Klitschko took the decision, and while six years in boxing is a lifetime in any other endeavor, it’s possible that Wlad will do it again and emerge the new champ. The variables are many. On the positive side is Byrd’s speed and ring savvy vs. Klitschko’s world-class jab. The negatives are Byrd’s age vs. K’s chin. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Byrd vs. Klitschko.

Why should this be any different than the first? Klitschko's major issue, a weak chin, won't be a factor in this one because Byrd can't punch through a spider web. Klitschko appears to have all of his skills intact, and his size is simply too much for a natural middleweight like Byrd to overcome. Klitschko by unanimous decision. Then Byrd and John Ruiz can vie for the vacant M.U.H. (“Most Unwatchable Heavyweight.”) championship of the world.
Matthew Aguilar

Boxing may be 75% mental, but the physical counts too. Wladimir Klitschko has six inches in height, seven in reach and thirty pounds on the smaller Byrd. He will use his size advantage, and an effective jab, to win rounds. The psychological damage suffered by Klitschko in his knockout losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster was on display in his most recent outing against Samuel Peter, as he stumbled to the canvas twice in the fifth round as much out of fear as from the power of Peter’s punch. But when Peter stopped punching and allowed Klitschko back into the fight, he also allowed him to redeem a level of psychological stability. Klitschko enters his fight with Byrd mentally stronger and with less to fear. Chris Byrd, a skilled southpaw, does not have the power to damage Klitschko either physically or mentally. Though Byrd has successfully defended his title four times, his win over Fres Oquendo, draw with Andrew Golota and split decision over Jameel McCline all could have gone the challenger’s way. This time, on German soil, he won’t find such friendly judges. The rematch will end like the first fight, with Klitschko taking Byrd’s championship belt by decision.
David Berlin

Byrd is a better fighter than he was five years ago. But so is Klitschko. He proved that in his recent win over Sam Peter. He showed poise and patience. Emanuel Steward has taught him a lot. I can't see this ending any differently then the first fight. If Byrd tries to mix it up, he could be in trouble. Klitschko by decision.
Rick Folstad

Byrd is going to get hammered in Wlad's backyard. He's no match with his cardio routine and his annoying jab. He can run but he can't hide all night from Dr. Steel Hammer's jab, strength and desire to take the title from this slaphappy heavyweight.
Amy Green

Byrd KO7 Klitschko. This is the answer to what happens when the resistible force meets the moveable object.
Michael Katz

Even though their first fight was almost six years ago, their careers taking very different courses, some things tend to remain the same. No doubt, Klitschko's trainer Manny Steward will have gone over the tapes of Byrd's last outings and reviewed the 2000 tape of Klitschko-Byrd I which adds up to Steward insisting on Wlad working overtime on his jab. And the Klitschko jab is the key, with Byrd hoping to work inside and throw quick combinations from close range, stationing himself inside the arch of Klitschko's power. Look for the jab to rule in this one and like their first fight, Byrd's inability to hit with authority means Klitschko should have his way.
Patrick Kehoe

Byrd has struggled against his last four opponents, none of them world-beaters, and when he and Wladimir first fought Chris lost 10, 11, and 12 rounds on the judges' cards. The result, then, should be a foregone conclusion, but that analysis doesn't take into account the indomitable spirit of the Brothers Klitschko. Contrary to conventional analysis, Byrd probably can't win even by outboxing Wladimir, but he could win if his opponent quits because of an injury, either real or imagined. Byrd retains his title on a late-round booboo.
George Kimball

Too many uncertainties about this fight make it one that you surely shouldn't bet on, but in the ring of predictions anything makes sense. A compelling argement could be made for Byrd by Decision, Byrd by KO, Draw, Wlad by Decision or Wlad by KO. I don't have a feel here at all because we don't know which Byrd will show up or which Klitschko will be there. Wlad still has serious stamina questions that need to be addressed as well as his ability to take a shot . . . or not. Byrd has slowed down recently and has traded more than in the past, and age is not on his side, nor are the fans. From a betting perspective the only way to play could be a bet on Byrd, but only because you get back +250 in what is a tough fight to call. I'm not betting but I will be watching and a Byrd victory or Draw would be no surprise.
Joey Knish

Chris Byrd has only one knockout in six years and eleven fights, thus it would seem logical unless Klitschko ends the fight or Byrd gets lucky, the bout will go the full twelve rounds. If the fight does go the distance, you've got to go with Klitschko as the fight is in Germany. He may very well KO the increasingly flat-footed Byrd, but in that case, the hometown decision is irrelevant. Klitschko is also five years younger than Byrd. The style of Byrd lends itself to constant movement, whether it is movement of the head, foot or hands, and Klitschko will wear down the smaller, older Byrd, eventually landing a barrage of punches with Byrd along the ropes, forcing the referee to stop the contest in round nine.
Scott Mallon

Klitschko beat him once handily, so there is no reason to think he won't do it again. Klitschko W 12.
Bob Mladinich

While Byrd is the better boxer, he doesn't have the power to unsettle Klitschko. If the champion remains focused for the entire fight he can win it on points, but if he lets his guard down momentarily Klitschko will stop him. Klitschko is the kind of boxer who goes into a fight with a gameplan and Byrd is going to have to step up on this one.
Deon Potgieter

Klitschko is bigger, stronger, and a more talented fighter than Byrd. The only question is whether or not he can deal with Byrd's craftiness, which can bother anyone. We know what happened the first time and the only difference in this one is that Byrd's been champ for it seems like forever. I think his luck runs out over in Germany and Klitschko shows that he's deserving of being heavyweight champion. Klitschko by KO.
Benn Schulberg

Wladimir Klitschko’s weak chin has been exposed since their first fight, but Chris Byrd’s punches are still not powerful enough to do the necessary damage. While this fight has a higher level of anticipation, the outcome will be very similar to the first. Klitschko by unanimous decision.
Aaron Tallent

Sam Peter put Wlad into a precarious state several times but didn't finish the job. Chris Byrd is certainly no finisher. He has lost several steps over the last couple of years and seemingly his motivation has diminished to the point where it looks like he's just about done with this sport. Wlad has the reach and an edge in desire, resulting in a UD12, Klitschko.
Michael Woods

Photos this week from Germany made it hard to forget how much bigger Klitschko looked last time as he knocked Byrd around. It remains Klitschko's best performance, but he has not proven able to duplicate it since. By my observation Byrd has at least maintained his previous overall skills, adding some strength, while Klitschko seems less intense. May the best man win in a meeting of worthy gentlemen. Percentages favor Klitschko, around 70 per cent by random ratios, but I'm going with Byrd because he's my compatriot and his optimism was contagious.
Phil Woolever

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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

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

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

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

Featherweight

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

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

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

Jr. Bantamweight

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

Flyweight

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

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

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

Boxing in Thailand

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

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

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

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

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

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

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

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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