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Articles of 2006

So-So Win By Freitas Over Raheem

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MASHANTUCKET, Conn. – The Sweet Science scorecard had the fight even after 12 rounds, which might on balance have been a fairer verdict. After all, Acelino Freitas and Zahir Raheem were supposed to be fighting for a world title in the Bingo Hall at Foxwoods, and the truth of the matter is that neither of them deserved to be a champion off Saturday night’s work.

Freitas got the nod on a split decision, and with it the WBO lightweight title, but neither performer exactly covered himself with glory.

Freitas spent most of the night whining to referee Steve Smoger (although God knows he had plenty to whine about), while Raheem turned into a 135-pound John Ruiz, attempting to envelop the Brazilian in a bear hug every time he landed a punch, and sometimes when he didn’t.

And for a fight devoid of knockdowns, these two guys certainly spent a lot of time on the canvas. Raheem, perhaps in tribute to what was also the NFL’s draft day, took Freitas down in both the second and third rounds with deftly-executed open field tackles – and this after he had risked a fine from Paul Tagliabue for the helmet-to-helmet hit he delivered in the opening round. (Following that clash of heads, Freitas started pawing at his forehead and complaining to Smoger.)

The referee cautioned Raheem after the second takedown. The warning didn’t make him stop grabbing Freitas, but it did encourage him to stop tackling him for awhile. Then, in the sixth round, Raheem landed a crisp left to Freitas’ jaw and became so excited that he grabbed Popo’s head between his gloves and flung him to the canvas.

Immediately realizing that he had gone way over the top, Raheem then tried to take a knee himself while Freitas was still on the floor. He was, he later admitted, trying to stave off a disqualification, and when Freitas arose, Raheem reached out with his glove in a gesture of conciliation.

Raheem had also gone down in the fourth, after he and Freitas had tangled feet, and Smoger immediately waved off the knockdown.

Although Raheem was chastened by the referee, he was never punished – at least not by Smoger. Freitas eventually figured out that if the only way he was going to get near his opponent was when he was being held, he might as well make the most of it, and took to banging away at Raheem’s midsection in the clinches until the referee arrived to pry them apart.

Smoger may have been the busiest man in the ring on this night, but at least one reputation probably suffered more damage than either Freitas’ or Raheem’s: Eric Morales’.

Raheem is nominally a slick and crafty boxer, and utilized those skills to handily defeat Morales in their fight last September, and that an opponent who could look so good in that fight could look so ungainly in this one doesn’t say much for Morales. Of course, against Morales he fought in a style best suited to his gifts, whereas his awkward tactics at Foxwoods often played right into Freitas’ hands.

Compubox punch stats revealed that Freitas threw 517 punches, but he missed with 399 of them. Raheem had a marginally higher (31 to 23%) connect ratio, but he was out-jabbed (59-47) by the Brazilian.

It was unquestionably a difficult fight to score, so it’s difficult to fault any of the judges. Clark Sammartino had Raheem ahead 115-113, but was overruled by Steve Weisfeld and Glenn Feldman, who favored Freitas by respective margins of 115-113 and 116-112. (We had it 114-all.)

“When I heard that first judge’s score (Sammartino’s) it was crazy,” said Freitas. “I didn’t know what fight he was looking at.”

“I took some good shots, but I got some good ones in, too,” said Raheem. “I felt like I hurt him a couple of times.”

Despite the closeness of the bout, Raheem wasn’t critical of the decision, though he did suggest that it might have been affected by overwhelmingly pro-Freitas crowd.

“This place seems to be overpopulated with Brazlians,” said Raheem, just before Freitas, having completed his round of television interviews, made his way to the ring apron and led several of his countrymen in a lively song.

Freitas-Raheem marked the debut of HBO’s new ‘Boxing After Dark’ broadcast team of Fran Charles, Max Kellerman, and Lennox Lewis. Although he traveled to Foxwoods as a spectator, Harold Lederman was on the bench for this one, and was thus spared having to submit a scorecard which would have pissed somebody off, whichever way he’d gone.

Freitas, whose lone career loss came when he was stopped by Diego Corrales at Foxwoods in 2004, improved to 38-1. Raheem, whose only defeat was to Rocky Juarez the same year, is now 27-2.

Andre Ward and Andy Kolle brought near-identical records (8-0 and 9-0, respectively) to their meeting in the co-feature of Art Pellulo’s card, but any similarity ended there. Ward, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, was vastly superiority in speed, and used it to keep Kolle on the defensive for virtually the entire six rounds the scheduled 8-rounder lasted.

Kolle spent so much time trying to get away from Ward’s nonstop barrage that he wasn’t able to mount any semblance of an attack.

“It was a tough night,” said Kolle’s manager-trainer Chuck Horton.

“He was just quick,” said Kolle. “He’s got fast hands and I couldn’t get off.”

Kolle’s one chance to get into the fight got away in the first round when referee Johnny Callas disallowed an apparent knockdown. Ward was in the process of tripping over his own two feet when Kolle landed a couple of admittedly ineffectual punches. Ward got hit and Ward went down and it should have been ruled a knockdown.

Given the one-sided nature of everything that happened subsequently, it might seem nitpicking to dispute the ruling, but it did represent a three-point swing, and whatever momentum Kolle might have picked up at that point was lost forever.

The only other time a fighter hit the deck came in what proved to be the final round, when Ward landed a left-right combination and promptly fell over backward.

Ward, who otherwise dominated from start to finish, said he had viewed tape of Kolle and wasn’t surprised that he was able to consistently beat him to the draw.

“He had decent speed, but I knew mine was better,” said Ward. “He’s a tough cookie. Physically it wasn’t a problem, but I knew I’d have to be mentally prepared for him.”

Ward had outlanded Kolle 153-59, including a whopping 50-8 advantage in jabs when the ringside physician rescued the Minnesotan by indicating to Callas that he had had enough. (Kolle was unable to close his eye, and the doctor feared a fractured orbit bone.)

Kolle remonstrated, violently shaking his head in disagreement with the stoppage, but he could hardly disagree with the outcome.

No sooner had the bout was halted, Ward walked across the ring and draped his gloves around Kolle’s neck and hugged his vanquished foe.

The opening act of the evening saw welterweight Vincent Arroyo of Amherst, NY remain undefeated at 5-0 with a unanimous decision over John Lipscomb (2-2-1) of Cleveland, with all three judges scoring it a 40-36 shutout for the winner.

Brazilian junior welter Carmelito DeJesus (4-0), one of two Freitas countrymen fighting on the Foxwoods undercard, was awarded a TKO when his American opponent, Darrell Crenshaw (1-5-1), quit on his stool after being pummeled for two rounds.

The third Brazilian on the card, welterweight Luciano Silva (7-1), also prevailed, posting a unanimous decision over Deon Nash (5-2) of Kutcher, La. Silva, who bled from a cut to his left eye for the final two rounds, led 58-56 on the cards of all three ringside judges, Feldman, Sammartino, and Steve Epstein.

Outweighed by more than 50 pounds, Zack Page did his best to make a fight of it before succumbing to unbeaten Tennessean Alonzo Butler in their heavyweight bout. Page, when he was able to stay on his feet, managed to catch Butler by surprise several times, but was floored in the second (a big right hand) and early in the fifth (a flash knockdown from a left hook) even before Butler landed the left-right combination that ended the bout. Page hit the deck with seconds left in the round, and was still on all fours when referee Joe LoPino waved it off. Butler improved to 20-0-2, with Page dropping to 10-7.

* * *

BOXING AFTER DARK
FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO
MASHANTUCKET, CONN.
APRIL 29, 2006

LIGHTWEIGHTS: Acelino Freitas, 135, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil dec. Zahir Raheem, 135, Phiiadelphia (12) (Wins WBO title)

HEAVYWEIGHTS: Alonzo Butler, 255, Chatanooga, Tenn. TKO’d Zack Page, 202, Warren, Ohio (5)

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Andre Ward, 160, Oakland, Calif. TKO’d Andy Kolle, 159, Fergus Falls, Minn. (6)

WELTERWEIGHTS: Vincent Arroyo, 144, Amherst, NY dec. John Lipscomb, 143, Cleveland, Ohio (4)

Luciano Silva, 141, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil dec. Deon Nash, 139, Kutcher, La. (6)

JUNIOR WELTERS: Carmelito DeJesus, 140, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil TKO’d Darrell Crenshaw, 139, Philadelphia (2)

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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

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

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

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

Featherweight

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

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

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

Jr. Bantamweight

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

Flyweight

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

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

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

Boxing in Thailand

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

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

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

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

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

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

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

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

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

Other bouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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