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Articles of 2006

Castillo Won’t Like the Scales of Justice, Either

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LAS VEGAS, June 5 – The Earth is 4.6 billion years old, but as Jose Luis Castillo would probably add, “give or take an eon.” I can’t wait for him to receive a guest worker’s assignment as head of the Bureau of Weights and Measures. Far be it for me to poke fun at someone else’s problems on the scale, it seems that the Mexican warrior had a very easy way out of his predicament, which should cost him $250,000 – the maximum fine that can be levied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, in addition to being benched by either suspension or license revocation – not to mention the loss of a $900,000 payday, and who knows how much in lawsuits.

Castillo’s rubber match with Diego (Chico) Corrales could easily have been saved. Corrales himself said how on the Showtime telecast that, unfortunately, did not include a satisfactory ending to the rivalry.

All Castillo had to do, Corrales said, was reach out. “Why couldn’t you call me and say you couldn’t make weight, we could have made it at a catch weight,” said Corrales. He said if neither had to make the 135-pound lightweight limit, at least it would have been “an even playing field – you don’t make weight, I don’t make weight.”

I’m sure the WBC, or any of the other hungry bodies, would have been glad to sanction Corrales-Castillo III as an “official eliminator” for the 140-pound title and the show could have gone on without having to feature the artless Vic Darchinyan hammering some poor sap.

For Castillo, or his camp, not to have made even a courtesy call to Corrales is downright rude. To lie about how he was “on target” to make weight was, as Corrales promoter Gary Shaw suggested, nothing less than “fraud.”

It also brings into question the competence – at the very least – of the WBC, which was allegedly monitoring Castillo’s process in training. Twice, the WBClowns reported everything was all right. Bob Arum, who did not feel the need to check further, especially since his partner in Castillo, Fernando Beltran, was assuring him that the weight watchers saw nothing wrong. Imagine, afterwards, there was Arum complaining, “I had been lied to.”

This was not “another black eye for boxing.” It was a low blow committed by Castillo and his entourage and he will take the hit, not the sport. He and Corrales gave the game blood and guts in their first meeting 13 months ago. But Castillo has sullied that great fight with his behavior since, failing to make weight for the rematch and having a member of the camp try to jiggle the scales during the weigh-in. Arum pointed out that it was even crazier that Castillo made 138 pounds earlier this year in a “tune-up” but couldn’t get below 139.5 last week.

“He has disgraced everything,” said Corrales. “He has disgraced all that we have accomplished.”

He pointed out that “this has only happened twice and it shouldn’t have happened to us.”

Hey, it’s happened before. Weigh-ins used to be one of my favorite segments of the game, like the time Wilfredo Gomez – well overweight the morning of his fight with Salvador Sanchez – stole the official scales, bringing them to his room at Caesars Palace (the casino substituted scales used to monitor incoming supplies of beef and such). There was the time Thomas Hearns, for his title shot against Pipino Cuevas, needed to be taken that morning to Detroit’s Oriental Health Spa and Massage Parlor and then was overcooked, coming in at 145½ pounds. If he didn’t knock out Cuevas in the second round, who knows how much strength he would have had later in the fight.

And, of course, there was Eddie Mustafa Muhammad’s refusal to even try and make weight for his rematch against Michael Spinks in Washington D.C. By the time the fight was called off that evening, the military had set up shop at the host hotel after a riot broke out at one meeting. In Washington, such fracases within a mile of the White House are taken very seriously and in order to get into the hotel, you had to go past a check point. The elevators and all floors were patrolled by rifle-toting soldiers.

My favorite moment, however, might be during a one-on-one interview I had with Jackie Mason, the great comic who sounds just like the late great cutman, Bill Prezant. Mason was hired by a network to host the live weigh-in of the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks match in Atlantic City. I asked Mason whom he liked in the weigh-in.

“Weigh-in?” he said. “If I were Spinks, I’d look for the way out.”

Showtime announcer Steve Albert called Castillo’s behavior “disgusting, embarrassing and unprofessional.” He shouldn’t mince words. But part of me empathizes with Castillo. It is too easy to give up the battle of the bulge. Castillo, weak and emaciated, should not have had to try. Yes, Corrales wisely did not risk his health by going ahead with an over-the-weight match, as he did last October. He saved the show then, but not his equilibrium.

But there was danger, too, to Castillo if the fight had taken place. He had to be helped up to get on the scales Friday. He might have needed such aid Saturday.

Life goes on. This weekend, we have split-screen pay-per-view shows – one from Atlantic City involving the big names, Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins, but likely a better fight, for as long as it lasts, in New York between Miguel Cotto and Paul Malignaggi. If you have two TV sets and can watch both, Tarver-Hopkins might look like Cotto-Malignaggi, in slo-mo.

PENTHOUSE: Chico is still the man. He went ahead with the fight last October when Castillo failed to make weight, and he said he was “pretty close” to doing the same again. He gave up more than $1 million – his own purse, plus a $250,000 contractual penalty that Castillo would have had to pay him – for safety’s sake. Wise choice. His wife, Michelle, might have thrown a few pots at him. At least Chico will get another Showtime date in the fall. Castillo will be blacked out.

OUTHOUSE: I hate being obvious, especially since I once admired him as one of the most professional of fighters, but Castillo has harmed himself and his reputation far more than being placed here could ever do. He may no longer be a sure thing for the Hall of Fame. A shame, but right now I’m more concerned with the health of Albert Pujols.

MORE DISS AND THAT: Home from the sea is the sailor? So it looks like Oscar de la Hoya set out in his boat already leaning towards fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the fall since before departing he already had talked Floyd Mayweather Sr. to be in the corner. While Big Floyd will not get many Father’s Day cards this year – especially since he predicts Oscar will knock out his son. Earlier, he told Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that while he may have taught Little Floyd all he knows, “I didn’t teach him all I know.” This, of course, will lead to Little Floyd’s perfect rejoinder: “Yeah, the part he didn’t teach me was how to lose.”…The father-son sidebar to the clash of titans will probably mean at least a quarter-million more pay-per-view sales….Sylvester Stallone couldn’t have sold this plot to Hollywood….Can’t wait for Big Floyd’s greatest poem, “An Ode to My Son.”….John Hornewer, Little Floyd’s attorney, thinks it might “rekindle culture in this country.”…You can get 5-2 on Hopkins on-line. Believe that was the price I got on him when he beat Felix Trinidad Jr. He’s certainly worth it because (a) he hired Mackie Shilstone, the guru who built Ozzie Smith into a hitter and helped shape Michael Spinks for a profitable career as a heavyweight, to fashion the former middleweight ruler into a light-heavyweight, and (b) he added John David Jackson, whom he once knocked out, to the corner. Jackson, one of the smartest boxers I’ve seen, took a break from training Sugar Shane Mosley to show Hopkins some tricks learned while sparring with Tarver….Besides, I’m of the opinion that Tarver, at 37 and having to come down in weight after bulking up to play a heavyweight opposite Stallone, may be more worn than Hopkins at 41….Malignaggi is a 7-2 underdog (Cotto is the 9-2 favorite and the middle is the vig where the books earn their profit) and while I might be tempted to make a parlay on  him with Hopkins, I will resist. For the opening rounds, the loud but inexperienced Malignaggi may make this look like a mismatch – and Cotto will be doing the missing. But Cotto, while he may have the perfect style for the quicker Malignaggi to exploit, is smart and tough and can really bang, especially to the body. Sooner or later, the odds figure that he’ll catch up with the Brooklyn tyro. Should be fun to watch.

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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