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Articles of 2006

Eric Harding Ready for Chad Dawson

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NEW YORK (May 29, 2006) – Eric Harding scared? Forget it. It will not happen.

“I've been shot twice and stabbed three times,’’ Harding, 33, of West Hartford, Conn., via Philadelphia, said. “I wasn't intimidated by the guys that shot me or stabbed me. Why would I be intimidated by anybody I ever fought in the ring?’’

The World Boxing Council (WBC) No. 10/International Boxing Federation (IBF) No. 9 contender, the fearless Harding performed brilliantly when he defeated Antonio Tarver and also when he fought three other former world champions – Roy Jones, Glen Johnson and Montell Griffin.

A boxer with high hopes and even higher expectations, Harding expects another superb performance Friday, June 2, when he risks his North American Boxing Federation (NABF) light heavyweight title against unbeaten WBC No. 7/World Boxing Association (WBA) No. 15 contender, Chad Dawson, on “ShoBox: The New Generation” (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).

“I give Dawson credit for stepping up,” said Harding, who captured the United States Boxing Association (USBA) and NABF 175-pound belts in his last two starts. “But Dawson is stepping up against the wrong guy. This is like a man against a young kid, David versus Goliath but without a surprise ending. I am willing to fight winner-takes-all. Every fight is a must-win for me.”

Harding is coming off two solid victories in 2005 and feels things could not be better as he heads into the Dawson fight.

“It is Eric Harding time,” he said. “Everything is perfect. I have a great manager and promoter and I am in great shape. I was just a baby when I fought the best guys. Now, I am a man. I feel I am the No. 1 light heavy in the world.

“I will go anywhere to fight for a world title, but the champions won’t fight me. They know they will lose.”

A tough, durable, confident, slick-boxing southpaw known for a big chin and heart, speed, overall skills, and counter-punching ability, Harding is at his best when he can frustrate opponents and outwork them. He even insists he has some pop, despite just seven knockout victories in 27 fights. “Everybody who’s been hit by me, they say to themselves, ‘They said this guy couldn’t punch.’ ”

“Eric is the best light heavyweight in world,’’ said manager Roger Levitt, who once guided the career of Lennox Lewis. “Both Tarver and the WBC champ, Tomasz Adamek, have specifically avoided Eric since his comeback began 16 months ago. Eric has the tools to dominate the division. Nobody can deal with him.”

Harding overcame a lot growing up in a tough neighborhood in Philadelphia, where every day was a hustle and any confrontation could be deadly.

“Where I was from, if you had a problem with certain guys it was going to lead to somebody getting hurt,” said Harding, who dropped out of school at 16. He was shot twice: once in the hand when he slapped away a gun aimed at his head, and once in the leg. In what he refers to as his “numerous” jail stays, he was stabbed three times.

Resilient enough to survive the streets must make stepping into the ring easy, right? “It doesn't give me incentive, because just winning and raising my family and being able to support my family is incentive enough,” he said. “But it makes me mentally tough. I've been through so much adversity. I can come back from anything.”

The father of six, Harding spends much of his time outside the ring with his kids. “Eric looks after his children with tremendous enthusiasm,” Levitt said. “(And) he is as vigorous towards his training as he is with his kids.”

“I go to the PTA. I help them with their homework,” Harding said. “I do all the things I can to help them grow up right. My life has changed a lot. I understand that boxing is my job and not just something I do that I happened to be good at.”

The person most responsible for helping Harding through all the years of trials and tribulations when he was younger was Howard “Moses’’ Mosley.

“I have always loved him like he was my own,” said Mosley, who taught Harding to box when he was 12 and has been a trainer, confidant and father figure ever since.

One of Mosley’s most commended moves was to get Harding out of Philadelphia and move him to Connecticut the morning after Harding's best friend was shot in the head. After that he had no trouble keeping Harding on track.

Harding started boxing at the age of 13, and compiled a 78-6 amateur record. He won three local Junior Olympics tournaments, and was a two-time Philadelphia Golden Gloves champion. He boxed a draw in his pro debut on Aug. 28, 1991, won his second start the following Sept. 27, then didn’t fight again for three-and-one-half years.

After resuming his career on Feb. 10, 1995, the slippery eel-like Harding won 18 bouts in a row. In a match he took on four day’s notice, Harding outpointed Griffin on Nov. 13, 1998. Harding, to that point, had never fought a scheduled 10-round bout and never gone past eight rounds.

On June 23, 2000, Harding scored a 12-round decision over the then-unbeaten, IBF No. 1 ranked Tarver in a WBC eliminator in which he fractured Tarver's jaw and broke two of his ribs. Tarver won the rematch with a fifth round knockout July 20, 2002.

“I underestimated him a lot,” said Harding, who went down three times against Tarver. “I lost that fight before I got into the ring. I had a lot of personal problems. I showed up in camp six weeks before the fight at 215 pounds. Losing 40 pounds took something out of me.”

The victory over Tarver earned Harding the right to face Jones on Sept. 9, 2000. A 42-1 underdog against the undisputed 175-pound titlist, the “Fighter of the Decade” in the 1990s and the man regarded as the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Harding did well until his corner stopped the bout in the 10th due to a bicep injury.

After losing a 12-round decision to Johnson on May 20, 2003, Harding did not fight for 21 months. But he came back sharp. In a bout he dedicated to his beloved cutman, the late Al Gavin, Harding won his return to the ring with a solid 12-round points triumph over David Telasco on Feb. 11, 2005. In his most recent outing, Harding won a 12-round decision over Daniel Judah.

“I am a Philly fighter so fighting to me is like walking,” said Harding, who is trained by Joey Rivera. “I hope Dawson is ready on June 2 because I am ready now.”

In the June 2 “ShoBox” co-feature, undefeated Mario Santiago (14-0, 9 KOs) of Puerto Rico will box Lenny DeVictoria ((8-3, 2 KOs) of Philadelphia in a 10-round featherweight match for the vacant USNBC, a minor title of the WBC. Gary Shaw Productions will promote the doubleheader from Chumash Resort Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.

The telecast represents the 77th in the popular, critically-acclaimed “ShoBox” series, which debuted on SHOWTIME in July 2001. “ShoBox” features up-and-coming prospects determined to make a mark and eventually fight for a chance at a world title. A number of fighters who have appeared on the series have gone on to become world champions, including Kermit Cintron, Juan Diaz, Leonard Dorin, Joan Guzman and Scott Harrison.

Nick Charles will call the action from ringside, with Farhood serving as expert analyst. The executive producer of the telecast is Gordon Hall, with Richard Gaughan producing.

For information on “ShoBox: The New Generation” and SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecasts, including complete fighter bios, records, related stories and more, please go the SHOWTIME website at http://www.sho.com/boxing.

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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