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Articles of 2006

Jose Navarro Punishes Torres

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Just think, if Jose Navarro could just stay away from Japan he might be undefeated today.

In January of 2005 the 24-year-old Los Angeles bantamweight traveled to Tokyo and lost a split decision to Katushige Kawishama in what was by most accounts outright larceny.

Evidently not having learned his lesson, Jose returned to the Land of the Rising Sun this February and lost another close but unanimous decision (this time in Osaka) in another WBC title fight to yet another inscrutable opponent, Masamori Tokuyama.

Although he has come up short in two cracks at the 115-pound title, Navarro remains a force to be reckoned with, and Wednesday night at the Mohegan Sun he carved out in impressive win over Filipino Vernie Torres.

After losing the first round on all three cards, Navarro didn’t lose another in a battle of southpaws waged at a level of skill a cut above the usual ESPN2 Wednesday night fare.

A still-serviceable opponent, Torres fought his early career in his native Philippines before relocating to Pensacola and enlisting as a Roy Jones acolyte back in 1998. Over the intervening eight years he fought on so many RJ undercards that he appeared for a time to be in danger of overtaking Smoke Gainer’s record.

That he was in over his head against the crafty Navarro was evident from the second round on. Perhaps unwisely, Torres fought much of the night with his back to the ropes, and paid a fearful price for it as Navarro punished him repeatedly with hard right hooks to the body.

Navarro wasn’t surprised at Torres’ game plan (“That’s just his style”), but he was surprised that his opponent stood up to the body attack.

“He took a lot of good punches, and I give him a lot of credit for that,” said the winner. “I’m surprised I didn’t stop him with those body shots, but believe me, he’ll feel it tomorrow.”

Torres was penalized a point by referee Dick Flaherty for a punch that came well after the bell had ended the fifth. Then, in the seventh, Navarro was cut above his right eye, and action was halted while Flaherty led him to the corner to have the wound examined by the ringside physician, Dr. Michael Schwartz.

Schwartz allowed the fight to continue, and Navarro breathed a sigh of relief when Flaherty signaled that the injury had been the result of a headbutt (even though, according to Navarro, it wasn’t), meaning that had the bout been stopped over the last three rounds, the issue would have gone to the scorecards, on which Navarro by then enjoyed a comfortable advantage.

“It was a punch,” said Navarro afterward. “I felt it cut when he hit me. Then, a round later, he headbutted me and made it much worse. That might have been what the referee saw.”

The cut was in precisely the same spot as one Navarro suffered in the Tokuyama fight three months earlier, and credit Larry Odono, the cutman in Navarro’s corner, for preventing it from becoming any worse than it was.

Torres (now 27-7) didn’t look so great himself by then, and was bleeding profusely from the nostrils over the last half of the fight.

Navarro (22-2) can be as refreshingly candid after a fight as he is gifted in one. In addition to admitting that the cut had been caused by a punch, he conceded that Torres “dominated me in that first round,” and even owned up to throwing “a couple of low blows – but one of them was unintentional.”

Judge Steve Epstein had Navarro winning 99-89, George Smith scored it 99-90, and Tom Kaczmarek 99-91. The Sweet Science scorecard mirrored Smith’s.

It was a sparkling performance, but having already had two bites at the cherry, Navarro is aware that it may take more than beating Vernie Torres on ESPN to get him another.

“But ever since I was a little kid my goal has been to become a world champion,” he said. “I’d even go back to Japan if I had to.”

Still in his trunks, Navarro was thereupon whisked off to Backus Hospital in nearby Norwich for stitches, pausing just long enough to don a Connecticut Defenders baseball jersey provided by DiBella for the ambulance ride.

Matching as it did a pair of willing action fighters (their lackluster records notwithstanding), the ESPN2 co-feature was bound to be a crowd-pleaser from the moment Emanuel Augustus and Marteze Logan signed the contract.

Game as always, Logan got a nose in front by winning the first two rounds, but then two things happened: With a cut bleeding from high on his forehead, Augustus (a) appeared to fight more earnestly, and (b) began to mock Logan as he weaved about the ring in a goofy pantomime of a drunken boogaloo.

Whether it was Augustus’ stepped-up pace or the knowledge that he couldn’t hope to match his choreography, Logan appeared to fold his tents early, and wound up on the losing end on all three cards, with Kaczmarek and Frank Lombardi scoring it 79-73 and John Makaie 77-26. (The Sweet Science had it 78-74 for the winner.)

There were no knockdowns, but at one point referee Ricky Gonzalez appeared to warn Augustus for bad dancing.

Augustus improved to 31-27-6, while Logan fell to 22-24-2.

DiBella’s junior middleweight Andre Berto, who represented Haiti in the 2002 Olympics after getting himself disqualified in the US Trials, ran his pro mark to 12-0 with a third-round TKO over Mexican journeyman Gerardo Prieto (5-4-1).

Berto, who had already dropped Prieto in the first round and earlier in the third, pulverized him with a right to the head followed by a crushing right to the body. Prieto made it back to his feet after the third knockdown, but was obviously woozy, leading Flaherty to call it at 1:52 of the third.

Calling out Andre Ward, DiBella said Berto would fight the Athens gold medalist “right now.”

(The promoter also described Berto as “the best prospect in the country.” We’re going to give Lou the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant Haiti.)

Although Canadian light-heavyweight Anthony Russell brought a 12-1-1 record into his bout with Brooklynite Jason Quick, his career ledger included one fewer knockout (two) than his 4-2-1 opponent. The fight figured to go the distance, and it did. Russell performed both cleverly and well, fighting out of a modified rope-a-dope that allowed him to pick Quick apart with counterpunches and uppercuts off the ropes.

Then Russell got careless in the last round and got himself dropped by a right hand with six seconds left in the fight. (The Russell corner claimed slip, but he got hit, he went down, and Gonzalez properly ruled it a knockdown.) Since it transformed a stanza Russell all but had in the bank into a two-pound round for Quick, the late knockdown made the judges’ scores (58-55, three times) seem much closer than the bout actually was.

The walkout bout, matching previously unbeaten junior middles, saw Puerto Rican Yukeno Andino (5-0) outpoint Texan Gilberto Guevara (3-1-1) by scores of 40-36 (Don Trella) and 39-37 twice (Smith and Makaie)

                                                           * * *
 
MOHEGAN SUN ARENA
MAY 17, 2006

BANTAMWEIGHTS: Jose Navarro, 116½, Los Angeles dec. Vernie Torres, 116¾, Davao, Philippines (10)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Anthony Russell, 175½, Kitchener, Ontario dec. Jason Quick, 174½, Brooklyn, NY (6)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Andre Berto, 148½, Winter Haven, Fla. TKO’d Gerardo Preito, 149, Mexico City (3)

Yukeno Andino, 152, San Juan, PR dec. Gilbert Guevara, 152, Brownsville, Tex. (4)

JUNIOR WELTERS:  Emanuel Augustus, 140, Brownsville, Tex. dec. Marteze Logan, 140½, Covington, Tenn. (8)

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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