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Articles of 2006

Stop Whining About the Heavyweights



How many of you know what the newest major sports organization in the combat sports is? No, newbies, it’s not the UFC; that started way back in 1993.

The newest big entrant into this combative world is called the World Sumo League. It has a world tour of over 60 shows beginning May 19 at Foxwoods, later stopping in major arenas in Poughkeepsie, Auburn Hills, Chicago, Philadelphia, the Meadowlands, Anaheim, and Oakland, and next overseas to Australia, New Zealand, South America, Ireland, the UK, and the rest of Europe. The finals and championships of this new league will be held Oct. 21 at Madison Square Garden, where this group ran its debut show last October in front of over 8,000 mainly cheering fans.

Sumo’s appeal can be found right before your eyes: It is very easy for casual observers to understand. It is highly visible. It is fun to watch. And it looks great on television.

Only one other combat sport can even come close to making these same claims: heavyweight boxing.

We watch the fights and follow boxing as a sport as a vicarious and allegedly civilized way of living out our desires to fight someone ourselves. The sport organizes this surrogate combat to determine who, supposedly, is the toughest guy in the world. That honor would presumably have to go to a heavyweight who has the size and strength advantage to go along with the skills needed to conquer anyone.

Of course, the reality is that what boxing produces is at most the best boxer, and not necessarily the best fighter in any style or under any rules. But the public perception has been, and even today remains to a large extent, that the heavyweight champ is the best fighter on the planet.

The sloppy boxing techniques, weak chins, and overall mediocre striking usually on display even by some of the top competitors in mixed martial arts events make their claim that they are presenting “ultimate” fighting dubious. That sport is at its technical, artistic, and athletic best when its submission holds take center stage. Too often, and especially for events held in a cage rather than a ring, it devolves into what a long-time manager and former participant in the combat sports labels “junior boxing.” Since many (but not all) of these events showcase and encourage gutter behavior, trash-talking, and similar anti-social mindlessness, they emerge in a similar category as the fake pro “wrestling,” with tainted credibility as a sport even though they generally run real fights. (The issue of fighter safety should be considered separately, since when properly or even mildly regulated, mixed martial arts has a far safer track record than boxing, the bleatings of some ignorant and biased politicians and writers notwithstanding.)

Thus, despite the limitations of the techniques allowed in boxing, only this sport remains in a position to be considered both the most effective and popular form of combat sports.

Even with all of boxing’s problems and crises which are rightfully chewed over again and again every day, nothing existing or on the horizon today can match the appeal of two big guys in a ring slugging it out with each other.

These are the main reasons which make the disdain shown by so much of the boxing media towards the heavyweight division as a whole so troubling. Sure, the crowning of an undisputed heavyweight champ is urgently needed amidst the chaos created by the warring alphabet soup sanctioning bodies and the TV networks. Again, many of the types of athletes who in years past would have gone into boxing have been scooped up as kids by the diploma mills fronting for the NFL and NBA, assuming that these kids had the chin and heart required to make it in boxing anyway.

Don’t keep quiet on such issues; I sure haven’t and plan to keep shouting. But don’t denigrate the strengths which arise out of this unsettled situation which prevails among the heavyweights today.

One of the great upsets in any sport occurred April 1 in Cleveland when Sergei Liakhovich (23-1, 14 KOs), originally from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, won a well deserved 12-round unanimous decision over American Lamon Brewster (33-3, 29 KOs) to capture his WBO belt. Who could complain about such an action-packed and competitive fight with its surprising outcome?

Then on April 22, in Mannheim, Germany, Wladimir Klitschko, knocked down nine times in his previous seven fights, thoroughly dominated and stopped Chris Byrd in the seventh round to capture his IBF heavyweight belt. Even the most ardent fans of Byrd had to admire Klitschko’s mastery of their fallen champion.

Sure, Rahman-Toney on March 18 for the WBC belt was a bit of a clunker. Pitting WBA champ Nikolai Valuev in his first title defense on June 3 against Owen Beck, loser of two of his last three fights, with that lone win being over blown-up cruiserweight Darnell Wilson, is certainly yet another typically disgraceful act by all involved.

But the fact that this is a wide open division should be applauded as a good thing, and not one of boxing’s many defects.

In many heavyweight fights today, you just don’t know beforehand who is going to win.

Is the winner of the June 24 fight between undefeated heavyweights Calvin Brock (28-0) and Timur Ibragimov (21-0) a foregone conclusion, like, in truth, most of boxing’s matchups are?

How good is 2000 Olympic silver medalist Sultan Ibragimov, now 19-0 with 16 KOs as a pro? I recently saw a telecast of his seventh-round TKO victory over Lance Whitaker this past December, and was impressed by his aggressive and crowd-pleasing style. But how far can this 31-year-old Russian fighter go?

And how about Shannon Briggs, technically a former linear heavyweight champion and now on the comeback trail? He is currently being trained by Jeff Mayweather, and, in preparation for a May 24 keep-busy bout, said he wants to fight top contenders but claims that everyone is ducking him. Can Briggs, still only 34 years old, regain that edge and maintain the focus needed to be a top heavyweight?

Samuel Peter presents yet another riddle. He floored Wladimir Klitschko three times when they fought last September, but was outboxed the rest of the way and lost a clear-cut unanimous decision. Can the 25-year-old slugger originally from Nigeria hone his boxing skills enough in the coming years to emerge at the top of the heap?

What of Oleg Maskaev? He is the mandatory for WBC champ Hasim Rahman. Yet Maskaev has been a master of inconsistency as well.

These two first fought Nov. 1999 in Atlantic City. With Rahman well ahead on all the scorecards after seven rounds, Maskaev nailed Rahman and knocked him clean through the ropes and into the laps of the broadcasting crew, to win by knockout. Since then, Maskaev has had his ups and downs, being knocked out by former contenders Kirk Johnson, Lance Whitaker, and 312-pound American Corey Sanders, while not beating any legitimately top-ranked fighters. Can Maskaev revitalize his career now that he has new management and a crack at a title held by a fighter whom he knocked out in their only meeting?

Can fighters like Klitschko, Guinn, Liakhovich, and Valuev keep winning? Can others like Brewster, Ruiz, and even Byrd rebound from their defeats?

I, for one, find this all fascinating, even in the absence of much order or fairness in this sport.

They are still the heavyweights, the biggest guys slugging it out to see who is the best boxer (or, if you believe, fighter) in the world. They may not be Ali, Louis, or even Lewis, but they are OUR heavyweights. I haven’t heard many complaints that the 2006 Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t hold a candle to the legendary 1970’s Steelers of Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, et al.

The heavyweight boxers: They still offer among the most intriguing theater seen anywhere in the world of sports.

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



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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