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Articles of 2006

De La Hoya Time Again

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Exactly 11 years before Oscar De La Hoya dismantled Ricardo Mayorga, the beginning of the Golden Boy era took place at Caesars Palace when the East L.A. fighter met a cross-town rival on May 6, 1995.

Rafael Ruelas was the IBF lightweight champ and many predicted the Mexican-born fighter living in San Fernando Valley would overrun the gold medal winner who had just captured the WBO lightweight title.

Up until that time, De La Hoya had not defeated an opponent the experts deemed capable of beating him. Sure Jorge Paez Sr. was a world champion, but many felt he was in the latter stages of his career. Little did anyone know Paez still had another eight years to go and the one-round knockout by De La Hoya was no fluke. It was a precursor of things to come.

Leading up to the fight Latino fans, especially Mexican-born fans, began assembling behind Ruelas. Even in East Los Angeles many Mexican-born fans supported the San Fernando Valley boxer, not their own native son. But that was the whole point, many Mexicans did not see East L.A. as their native area. But those with ties to the area and were born and raised in those streets glued their eyes on the television sets or flocked to Las Vegas to see if De La Hoya was the real thing or fool’s gold.

Thousands of fans carrying Mexican flags entered the outdoor arena, with a few people carrying American flags. One set of fans high up in the bleachers had a banner claiming Ruelas the real champion.

Before the fight there was even talk by younger brother Gabriel Ruelas of getting a crack at De La Hoya. By the end of the night, however, that fighter would never be the same after ending the life of his opponent Jimmy Garcia. A gallant but limited warrior who was carried out of the ring and succumbed to the beating, Garcia died after the fight. Ruelas was crushed by the news.

In Oscar’s fight, the same left hook that downed Mayorga like a lightning bolt made its first appearance on a grand scale against Ruelas. The sound of that punch as both fighters unleashed their blows still echoes in my mind. Ruelas crumbled from the impact and never really recovered though he beat the count.

It was De La Hoya’s grand opening to the mega fight.

That night I sat next to the great journalist Allan Malamud. We both covered the fight for the LA Times. The newspaper sent us both to make sure it had its bases covered. “Just in case this kid De La Hoya happens to win,” stated the sports editor the week before the fight.

I can still hear the roar of the crowd and the look of astonishment from Ruelas supporters. Many saw the East LA kid as some kind of hyped fly-by-night fighter.

After De La Hoya was declared the winner by knockout, Malamud leaned over to me and said: “this kid is the real thing.” Truer words were never spoken.

Malamud died a year later and I moved on to another newspaper. I often wondered what the great sports columnist would have thought of De La Hoya’s incredible unparalleled success. He had witnessed countless other Southern California boxing hopefuls come and go including Mando Ramos, Bobby Chacon, Armando Muniz, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Jerry Quarry and Raul Rojas. Would he have believed a young kid out of East L.A. with the face of a choirboy could rocket to superstardom and amass a fortune never seen before in boxing?

In De La Hoya’s next fight he took on another town rival in Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez.

Return of the Golden Boy

No sooner did Oscar De La Hoya left hook his way to victory over the Nicaraguan strongman Ricardo Mayorga when the lineup of possible contenders marched into the post fight press conference at the MGM Grand.

In the crowded ballroom – that was transformed into the media center – dozens of elite prizefighters like Antonio Margarito, Winky Wright and Floyd Mayweather Jr. entered the press conference to plead their case why they should be considered for the lottery prize aptly named the Golden Boy.

“We’ll see, I don’t want to make no decision,” said De La Hoya as each prospective opponent presented their case in front of hundreds of reporters and non-reporters on Saturday night.

The most probable scenario and one that De La Hoya considers at the top of his list as an opponent for Sept. 16 in Las Vegas has the East Los Angeles boxer meeting Floyd Mayweather Jr., the son of his esteemed trainer and considered the best fighter in the world today.

“I’m positive that fight is going to happen,” said Mayweather Jr. as the media frenzy began when De La Hoya entered the room. “It makes too much sense.”

De La Hoya also made several passing references on Saturday night and on several prior occasions that fighting Mayweather Jr. would be his first choice.

“He’s the best fighter in the world,” said De La Hoya.

But blocking the possible mega fight is Mayweather Sr.

“I don’t want that fight to happen,” said the father and former prizefighter, adding that he doesn’t want to train De La Hoya to beat up his own son.

The son feels his father should let it happen.

“We can work it out,” said the young Mayweather known as Pretty Boy Floyd. “This is a fight that has to happen. Oscar is a great fighter and I’m a great fighter. People want to see this fight.”

Many boxing journalists predict a match between De La Hoya and Mayweather could attract more than 1.8 million pay-per-view buys and possibly much more. The all-time non-heavyweight pay-per-view record was set by Felix Trinidad and De La Hoya in 1999 with 1.8 million.

De La Hoya refused to make a decision any time soon. He said he wants to have a heart to heart talk with the elder Mayweather and with his team. If his trainer refuses to train him, the East L.A. fighter has said earlier that he won’t enter a fight.

“I need him in my corner,” De La Hoya said. “He gives me confidence.”

Other fighters like Winky Wright, who is scheduled to meet Jermain Taylor for the middleweight world championship on June 10 in Memphis, had someone speak for him during the press conference. That person said that if Mayweather is unattainable because of the parent-son situation, that Wright would be the best choice.

Margarito himself stepped to the mike and asked De La Hoya for a match.

De La Hoya sang Margarito’s praises but mentioned the possibility of Shane Mosley facing the Tijuana warrior who has the WBO version of the welterweight title.

Mayweather, who quietly sat in a corner to the right of the podium where De La Hoya answered questions, made a brief analysis to this reporter of De La Hoya’s performance.

“He got hit some but everybody gets hit. Even I got hit against Zab Judah,” Mayweather said. “Oscar’s a great fighter, one of the best of all time. I’m the best fighter pound-for-pound, it’s a great fight.”

Local fight shows coming up

May 18, in Los Angeles. Mighty Mike Anchondo meets Ulises Pena at the Shrine Auditorium. For tickets and information call (213) 480-3232.

May 18, in Irvine, Vladimir Zykov meets Jesus Rodriguez at the Irvine Marriott. For tickets and information call (949) 760-3131.

May 19, in Montebello, Kaliesha West meets Elizabeth Cervantes at the Quiet Cannon Country Club. For tickets and information call (323) 781-4871.

May 19, in Cabazon, Samuel Lopez will be featured in the main event at the Morongo Casino. For tickets and information call (866) 328-2024.

May 20, in Los Angeles, Marco Antonio Barrera meets Rocky Juarez at the Staples Center. For more information call (213) 480-3232.

May 25, in Temecula, Javier Mora meets Fres Oquendo at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. For more information call (877) 711-2946.

May 27, in Carson, Jhonny Gonzalez meets Fernando Montiel at the Home Depot Center. For more information call (213) 480-3232.

Fights on television

Wed. ESPN 6 p.m. Jesse Brinkley (26-3) vs. Joe Spina (17-0-1)

Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Edner Cherry (19-4-2) vs. Monty Clay (20-0)

Fri. Telefutura, 9 p.m., Abner Mares (8-0) vs. Edison Morillo (12-3-2)

Sat. HBO, 6:45 p.m., Oscar De La Hoya (38-4) vs. Ricardo Mayorga (28-6-1) replay. Ricky Hatton (40-0) vs. Luis Collazo (26-1)

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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