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Articles of 2006

Cheatin’

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A standard theme in American country music – which everyone should be listening to every day and night, especially boxing people – is cheating, or, more precisely, cheatin’.

Hank Williams is well-known for his classic lament “Your Cheatin’ Heart,”, still regularly played in jukeboxes in the finest dive bars of America where such thoughts and dreams keep the ATMs humming. Present-day country superstar Gretchen Wilson, best known for her anthem “Redneck Woman”, had a recent hit song on her first album, which sold over four million copies, called “When I Think About Cheatin’”, which netted her a 2005 CMT award for best video by a female artist and was shot at the Ryman Auditorium, longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. And this year, Sara Evans, named by People Magazine as one of their “50 Most Beautiful People of 2005,” rose to the top of the CMT video charts with a song simply titled “Cheatin’”.

The cheatin’ referenced here, of course, involves infidelity in marital or similar committed relationships. Cheatin’ in such filthy endeavors as politics, business, and baseball takes other forms, all more and more documented as the Internet grows. But cheatin’ in boxing?

Shoot. The main difference between the cheatin’ in the honky tonks and the cheatin’ in boxing is that the former is usually attempted in relatively private settings, while in the latter it is practiced before national and international audiences of millions and millions, and often on that lovely medium known as pay-per-view.

The top two grossing pay-per-views in the U.S., not surprisingly, involved Mike Tyson. When Tyson had his rematch with Evander Holyfield in 1997, the pay-per-view drew about two million buys. That, of course, was the infamous “bite fight”. Tyson felt that Holyfield was cheatin’ on him by using unpunished foul tactics, so he upped the ante by cheatin’, and eatin’, on his ears.

The pay-per-view business tanked for a few years, but the buys did get to that magical one million mark again in 1999 when Holyfield finally met Lennox Lewis in their first fight. Here Lewis was cheated out of a deserved victory and the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, not to mention the millions of paying fans who witnessed this robbery.

The other pay-per-view to draw around two million buys was the 2002 Lewis-Tyson fight. That show was originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, but the infamous New York press conference brawl preceding that fight got it tossed out of Sin City. In that brawl, Tyson returned to his cheatin’ ways by eatin’ on Lewis’s leg.

After Tyson, the next largest draw on pay-per-view has been Oscar De La Hoya. Following in these grand traditions, several of his top-drawing fights have been marred by cheatin’, although not on his part.

De La Hoya’s 1999 fight with Felix “Tito” Trinidad got around 1.4 million buys, the most to date for a non-heavyweight fight. Most observers felt that De La Hoya was cheated out of the victory, although Oscar cheated the fans (and himself as well) by running the last several rounds, thus defaulting on any right to complain about the cheatin’ officials too strongly.

Another of De La Hoya’s top-drawing pay-per-views was in 2002, this time against Fernando Vargas. That show got 935,000 buys. De La Hoya deservedly won by an 11th-round TKO, but after the fight it was announced that Vargas had been caught cheatin’ for using the anabolic steroid stanozolol.

De La Hoya’s latest pay-per-view show, his May 6 victory over Ricardo Mayorga, was also one of his most-watched. According to figures released by HBO Sports, this fight received 875,000 pay-per-view buys. That is De La Hoya’s fifth best, only behind the two fights listed above and his second fight with Shane Mosley in 2003, which got 950,000 buys, and his 2004 fight with Bernard Hopkins, which got one million buys. And like the Trinidad and Vargas fights, you could have added a musical score to the bout with Mayorga from any of those country cheatin’ songs.

It was also announced last week that Mayorga’s post-fight doping test had come back positive for the diuretic Furosemide, also known as Lasix. This stuff is often used to cut weight quickly. Had Mayorga not made weight for this fight, he would have lost his WBC 154-pound title on the scale. He also no doubt would have had to have paid De La Hoya a substantial amount of money, as most contracts stipulate penalties for one fighter failing to make the agreed upon weight. Mayorga already had been complaining the week of the fight about his cut of the money. (If this charge sticks, Mayorga will undoubtedly lose even more money, but getting caught cheatin’ was not part of the plan.)

This stuff also is pretty much universally accepted as a banned substance in sports. In an e-mail answering an inquiry from me about this substance, Frédéric Donzé, Manager, Media Relations, of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), wrote, “Furosemide is part of section S5 (diuretics and other masking agents) of the WADA 2006 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods.” While, of course, he could not comment on the specifics of the case of Mayorga, who also has to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, he did add, “But a positive test for diuretics under the World Anti-Doping Code can mean a 2-year suspension if the athlete cannot establish that he bears no fault or negligence.”

Diuretics are also used as a masking agent for steroids, according to Dr. Flip Homansky, Association of Boxing Commissions’ Vice President and former Nevada State Athletic Commissioner and emergency physician. He is working with neurologist and the Nevada commission’s former chief ringside physician, Dr. Margaret Goodman, along with several other physicians as well as former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and former mixed martial arts (MMA) and Greco-Roman wrestling champion Randy Couture, in establishing the Combat Sports Center for Safety and Research (CSCSR).

Going against what is sometimes asserted in boxing, Dr. Homansky said during a telephone interview Monday, “I think that anabolic steroids and human growth hormone are rampant both in boxing and especially in MMA.”

Nor does he believe that there is adequate testing to try to catch those who are cheatin’.

“We test very few. We don’t test everyone. We test only a couple,” he stated. “You shouldn’t be testing after a fight. These people cycle and know when to stop. We’re only catching the dumb ones.”

Dr. Homansky also differs with those who dismiss the danger of steroids in boxing on the grounds that it does more harm than good to the fighters during the fight.

“You can make a cocktail of different steroids to create whatever you want to create,” he said. “If it’s endurance, if it’s reflexes, if it’s speed.”

He added that in baseball, it was not just the big home run hitters who use steroids, but also the shortstops.

“It helps them recover quicker in their training so they can train three times as hard. It allows them to come back from injuries quicker. It does a multitude of things.” He continued, “And all of them are unfair, give an uneven playing field, and are dangerous to the taker.”

On this same interview, Dr. Goodman concurred with these views, citing her own experiences talking with fighters in gyms.

“For people that want to say in boxing and MMA, ‘oh, it’s just a few guys,’ it’s just crazy. This is part of the norm,” she has concluded.

In other words, cheatin’ is “rampant” and “the norm” in boxing.

I just wonder if they can set up Ryman Auditorium for a boxing pay-per-view.

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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