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Articles of 2006

Oscar De La Hoya vs. The Past



Whether you are a fan of Oscar De La Hoya or not, it is impossible to deny his importance to boxing over the last decade. It is also impossible to deny his status as a good — if not a great — fighter.

His legacy could depend on whether he defeats Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a possible megafight tentatively slated for Sept. 16.

But, whatever the case, De La Hoya has proven to be the dominant lighter-weight fighter of his era, and not just because he had the ability to draw the mainstream sporting audience (read: women) in droves.

It’s because he could fight.

Rafael Ruelas, Genaro Hernandez, Jesse James Leija, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ike Quartey, Arturo Gatti, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga. His list of victims is like a who’s who of boxing in the 1990s and 2000s.

So, what if De La Hoya had been born 20 or so years earlier, and competed in one of the greatest eras in boxing history — the 1980s?

Would he have fit in comfortably with the golden age of the welterweights? Or would he have been overmatched?

Let’s fantasize:

•Oscar De La Hoya (1997) vs. Wilfred Benitez (1979): This fight would have taken place at welterweight, about the time that De La Hoya outpointed Pernell Whitaker for the WBC 147-pound title and Benitez lost to Sugar Ray Leonard via 15th-round TKO.

Though Benitez lost to Leonard, it was anything but easy for Sugar Ray. Benitez, known as “Radar,” won the title in early-1979 with a masterful decision over another Hall-of-Famer, Carlos Palomino. He is regarded, along with Willie Pep, as one of the best defensive fighters in history. A fighter as fast as Leonard had trouble clocking Benitez clean. De La Hoya, a smidgen slower than Leonard, would experience similar frustration.

This fight would look a lot like De La Hoya’s ’97 battle with Whitaker, a fighter similar to Benitez in style and attitude. Unlike Whitaker, Benitez was a full-fledged 147-pounder who eventually moved up to 154 and won a title there. So it’s a bigger version of Whitaker that De La Hoya would be facing.

Benitez never had a very strong beard, which is why he eventually succumbed to the blazing fists of Leonard. However, they’d be fighting a 12-rounder, and it’s unlikely De La Hoya would catch the Puerto Rican with anything substantial over that distance. Only problem, he wouldn’t catch the Golden Boy with anything big, either.

After a tactical, nip-and-tuck (boring) affair, De La Hoya wins a decision based on aggressiveness.

Odds: De La Hoya, 2-1
Result: De La Hoya W 12 (s)

•Oscar De La Hoya (1996) vs. Roberto Duran (1980): De La Hoya was officially a junior welterweight in ‘96, following a career-best TKO of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. But he was starving himself to get down to 140, and was a mammoth specimen compared to tiny Chavez, who was aged and physically overmatched. He wouldn’t find the ‘80 Duran to be nearly as accommodating.

The fire in Duran’s belly was ignited by fighters like De La Hoya — pretty boy types who were coddled up the ranks and fed a steady diet of set-ups. He despised Leonard, who mapped out the blueprint for the Golden Boy. The parallels between Leonard and De La Hoya are undeniable: Olympic glory, undefeated records, classic styles, speed and athleticism.

Consequently, De La Hoya would face the inspired Duran who beat Leonard in Montreal, not the bloated, under-trained shadow who quit in New Orleans. And that Duran was as close to unbeatable as a fighter could be.

Duran would attack De La Hoya relentlessly, in an attempt to make it a street fight. De La Hoya, like Leonard, would initially be startled by “Manos de Piedra’s” aggressive start. He’d try to establish the jab, but would not possess the physicality to hold a raging Duran off. De La Hoya would begin to find himself in the middle rounds, jabbing to the body and catching Duran with left hooks. But he would get frustrated at his inability to hurt his iron-chinned opponent, and become demoralized by the championship rounds.

Scheduled for 15 rounds, De La Hoya would be a battered mess by the end of 12. Duran would seize the moment, and punish him in the 13th. The referee would jump in and save a bloody, defenseless Golden Boy late in the 13th.

Duran would snarl at De La Hoya, grab his crotch, and raise his hands in victory.

Odds: Duran, 2-1
Result: Duran TKO 13

•Oscar De La Hoya (1998) vs. Thomas Hearns (1981): De La Hoya was in his prime in ‘98, though his year was rather uneventful. There was a predictable third-round knockout of French pug Patrick Charpentier in June, and an eighth-round TKO of Chavez in a pointless rematch. But he was brilliant in both fights, physically and mentally.

The ‘81 Hearns was one of the most fearsome welterweights in history. His vicious knockout of Pipino Cuevas in 1980 is a classic Hearns hit, and he followed that up with knockouts of contenders Luis Primera, Randy Shields and Pablo Baez. He handled all with ease.

De La Hoya would be facing the Hearns who was heading into the Leonard fight in September ‘81.

This would be a fascinating fight early on. In fact, it would resemble Hearns and Leonard the first time — a pair of fencers probing for openings. Hearns had the harder punch and faster hands, but De La Hoya had the better chin. So, when Hearns landed, De La Hoya would shake and rattle, but not roll.

However, when De La Hoya landed with his quick, powerful bursts, Hearns would be wobbly-legged. De La Hoya would drop Hearns in the seventh with a left hook. However, while moving in for the finish, Hearns would strike him with a perfect right hand and put Oscar on his back.

De La Hoya would get up, and a classic battle would unfold.

The fighters would alternate between boxing and brawling, often engaging in wicked exchanges that would result in both fighters being staggered. And neither fighter would neglect the body, pounding the ribcage with abandon.

It would take a toll on the “Hitman.”

Hearns was agonizingly skinny in 1981, and De La Hoya’s body work would have more of an effect. He’d begin to weaken Hearns in the 10th of the scheduled 15-rounder. Hearns would rebound with his heart and skills, boxing his way back into the fight with his longer reach and superior hand speed, a la the original Leonard fight.

But then, a whistling De La Hoya left hook would drop Hearns in the 13th round — similar to the way the Hitman fell against Iran Barkley in 1988. Hearns, one of the gutsiest fighters in history, would try to make it up, but would come up short, and be counted out.

Odds: Hearns, 2-1
Result: De La Hoya KO 13

•Oscar De La Hoya (1999) vs. Sugar Ray Leonard (1982): This was the De La Hoya who was at the height of his powers — amazingly quick hands, outstanding power, great chin and a killer instinct that belied that big smile. It was right around the time of the Oba Carr fight (KO 11), and months before the hard-to-figure Felix Trinidad disaster of 1999.

The ‘82 Leonard was an awesome fighting machine. He had already dispatched Benitez and Duran, and was coming off the thrilling, historic 14th-round knockout of Hearns. His future was seemingly limitless after a quickie KO of no-hoper Bruce Finch (KO 3) in February of ‘82, and that was the Sugar Ray that was favorably compared with his legendary namesake, Sugar Ray Robinson.

Leonard always liked to play mind games with his opponents, and it would be interesting to see what his mental plan-of-attack would be against De La Hoya. Against Ayub Kalule, a native of Uganda who supposedly had a witch doctor in his corner, Leonard wore an emblem on his trunks that countered black magic.

Against Hearns, who traditionally wore white trunks, Leonard wore his own white trunks — just because he could.

Against Duran in the rematch, Leonard wore all black, to reflect his dark, serious mood. It translated into the most notable humiliation of a bully this side of Buster Douglas’ knockout of Mike Tyson. He wound up with a fake bolo punch and popped Duran with a jab. He stuck his chin out. He did the Ali Shuffle.

He mocked him unmercifully, forcing the great Duran to walk away in disgust.

Leonard wouldn’t be able to get away with such nonsense against a quicker fighter like De La Hoya.

Not immediately, anyway. So he’d likely play it serious in the early rounds, which would be dull as both fighters searched for an edge.

De La Hoya would hit paydirt with a left hook in the middle rounds of an even fight, but would be shocked to find Leonard smiling at him. Knowing that he could absorb De La Hoya’s punch with little problem, Leonard’s strategy would be formed: He’d hunt down his prey.

De La Hoya would become even more shocked when Sugar Ray soaked up more of his bombs willingly, without flinching, while continuing his forward progress. And that’s when Leonard would initiate the body work. Left to the body. Right to the body. Double left to the body. Jab to the body. Leonard would follow the same blueprint as the Hearns fight. Forever wanting the mental edge, Leonard would be looking to come out prettier in the battle of the pretty boys.

By the 10th round of the scheduled 12-rounder, De La Hoya would be in trouble. Unable to keep Leonard off of him and his legs too weak to move, he would rumble with his back against the ropes. His eyes would be swollen and his mouth bloody, but he wouldn’t come close to going down.

He’d pull out the final round on heart alone, and it would make things interesting. But it wouldn’t be nearly enough. Leonard by unanimous decision.

Odds: Leonard, 2-1
Result: Leonard W 12 (u)

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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