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Articles of 2006

Marco Antonio Barrera: Been There Done That

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LOS ANGELES – An intriguing matchup between boxing’s royalty Marco Antonio Barrera and the young aspiring Rocky Juarez takes place on Saturday at the Staples Center, and pits the master fighter versus the hungry lion.

Barrera, the WBC junior lightweight titleholder, has morphed from a brawling take-no-prisoners type of fighter with knockouts galore into a boxer-puncher who looks for a weakness then exploits it like a surgeon with a scalpel.

Now the Mexico City fighter known as the “Baby-Faced Assassin” faces a real baby in terms of boxing when he meets Juarez, 26, in a scheduled 12-round bout. The fight card is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Main Events and televised by HBO.

“Marco Antonio Barrera is one of my favorite fighters,” said Juarez (25-1, 18 KOs) while in Los Angeles. “I’ve watched all of his fights with Erik Morales.”

But after 18 years of facing every type of fighter across the ring, will this be the bout that shows Barrera’s age?

“I know Rocky Juarez is a young hungry fighter,” Barrera (61-4, 42 KOs) said. “I’ve been there.”

Hunger keeps a fighter on edge and keeps him running those extra miles and sparring the extra round when the muscles burn for rest. Juarez has that hunger.

“It’s hard to get up for every fight,” said Juarez whose only loss came against a little-known fighter Humberto Soto. “I’m fighting one of the best fighters in the world in Barrera. I have to get up for this fight.”

After years of trying to get a world title fight including cancellations, Juarez was set to meet Korea’s Injin Chi last August for the WBC featherweight title, but that fighter was injured. In his place Mexico’s Soto was inserted. He was a completely different kind of fighter than Chi.

“It was a tough fight,” Juarez confessed. “I trained for another fighter but I felt I could still do it. I just wanted to fight.”

The fight against Soto proved that Juarez could have a bad day. When the scores were read it was close but the Houston native had suffered his first and only loss.

“He was tough,” Juarez said, who was a silver medal winner in the 2000 Olympics in Australia.

Barrera has his own weaknesses but they’re much harder to exploit. That’s why many fellow boxers call him one of the masters of the profession.

“He’s one of the greatest boxers in history,” said Oscar De La Hoya, who is a partner with Barrera in Golden Boy Promotions.

Toe-to-toe

In the beginning Barrera entered the ring with a lust for knockouts and toe-to-toe action. He was more eager to see his opponent bludgeoned to the floor than score a victory by decision. Most Southern California fight fans remember his many bouts at the Inglewood Forum where he became a fan favorite. The bout against Kennedy McKinney on Feb. 3, 1996 is called one of the greatest in history and led to much acclaim. But later that year he ran into the right hand of Junior Jones and was stopped cold for the first time in his career. Another match with Jones a year later resulted in a close loss, but still a loss.

Barrera changed gears slowly

Against Pastor Maurin in 1999 he used more boxing technique than muscle. The people booed.

Then, after years negotiating, Tijuana’s Erik “El Terrible” Morales signed to meet Barrera at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Feb. 19, 2000. History was made.

Morales and Barrera engaged in one of the most brutal yet beautiful battles the boxing world had witnessed in years. Round after round the two Mexican warriors took turns blasting each other at a level of boxing seldom seen. In the end Morales was given the nod as the victor. But Barrera had exorcised the demons of his losses to Jones and had won the hearts of boxing fans for his ferocity in the ring.

The following year a British warrior with a large following and knockouts in his fists came calling. His name was Naseem Hamed.

Barrera had sought a fight with the British bomber for years and when it finally came people expected a rugged slugfest. Instead Barrera showed another side as he used movement, angles and blocking techniques to easily out-box Hamed over 12 rounds. It was a stirring boxing clinic performed by the Mexico City fighter.

Two fights later, a rematch was signed with Morales. The boxing world shuddered with anticipation of another Fight of the Year.

In the summer of 2002, Barrera met Morales in Las Vegas once again but this time he displayed a different side to the Tijuana fighter who was befuddled most of the night. Using angles and a pinpoint jab, Barrera raced ahead to out-score Morales in an somewhat easy victory.

Buzzsaw named Manny

In November 2003, Barrera ran into a buzzsaw named Manny Pacquiao in Texas. Because of massive fires near his Big Bear Mountain training camp Barrera was forced to leave and other problems arose with medical accusations by his former manager. He was ripe for an upset and it came at the hands and fists of Pacquiao.

Observers and experts said Barrera was done. But a third match against Morales proved otherwise as once again Barrera prevailed with his superior technique.

A meeting last year with IBF Robbie Peden for a unification bout in the junior lightweight division became a mismatch as the Mexican fighter plainly had too much experience and knowledge for the rugged Aussie.

“You have to stay alert with Marco,” said Dominic Salcido who sparred with Barrera in Big Bear. “He figures you out real quick.”

Juarez and his trainer hope he’s learned enough to offset the experience.

“I think Rocky has a real good chance,” said his trainer Ray Ontiveros. “He’s still hungry.”

Juarez believes it can be done too.

Despite his loss to Soto, the first in Juarez’s career, the Houston boxer has a fight in front of him that can put him on the map of fame. All of the marbles can come together if he wins or puts on a competitive showing.

“Barrera is one of the best boxers in the world,” said Juarez. “But I’m going to do whatever I can to win this fight.”

For Barrera, if he wins, he earns a possible rematch with his last conqueror the Filipino slugger Pacquiao in September. If he loses, it’s probably over for the last of the few master fighters in boxing today.

“I want to fight for another three years,” Barrera said.

Other bouts:

Jorge Barrios, 29, the rough and tumble Argentine fighter who took Mighty Mike Anchondo’s WBO junior lightweight title, defends it against Janos Nagy of Hungary in the semi-main event. Barrios (45-2-1, 32 KOs) likes to manhandle and swing for the fences. He came sliver close to beating Brazil’s Acelino Freitas a couple of years back. He has the power. Nagy (24-0, 14 KOs) is known as “Bone cracker” and has beaten several mostly European fighters on his way to the top of the WBO ratings. Most notable on his list was Tonto Tontchev who fought De La Hoya in a losing cause during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Nagy, 31, beat him by decision last September.

East Los Angeles boxer Jose Armando Santa Cruz gets his world title crack against Chikashi Inada (19-2) WBC interim lightweight title. Supposedly the winner of this fight gets the winner of the Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo clash on June 3. But don’t bet on it. Santa Cruz (22-1, 12 KOs) barely escaped against Edner Cherry last February in a fight that saw him hang on for dear life as Cherry poured it on. It was the second time in three fights that Santa Cruz, 25, seemed to lose gas in the closing rounds. Inada (19-2, 14 KOs), 28, is a tall boxer out of Tokyo, Japan. Most Japanese fighters are in great condition to go all 12 rounds. Expect a non-stop slugfest. Both are tall for lightweights. Santa Cruz is 5-11 in height, Inada is 5-9. One other thing, Inada can hit.

The fight card also features two Golden Boy fighters in separate bouts. Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista (19-0, 14 KOs), the fighter with a 12-year-olds face, displays his fireworks in a bantamweight contest. Armando Dorantes will also be on the card in a lightweight bout. Dorantes (5-0) is from East Los Angeles.

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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