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Articles of 2006

Melinda Cooper Goes to France



Standing behind a busy counter of a plush Las Vegas casino nightclub, Melinda Cooper looks like any jet-setting 21-year-old working hard as a bartender on a crazy Saturday night sliding around serving drinks.

Little do her customers know, she’s one of the best female prizefighters on the planet.

“Once in a while someone will come up to me and say you’re Melinda Cooper the boxer,” says Cooper (16-0, 9 KOs).

In a few days Cooper will travel to Paris, France then commute to nearby Luce where she’ll perhaps battle Germany’s Daniela Graf (3-4-1) in a six-round fight promoted by Round One Entertainment on Saturday June 10.

“I’m excited about going to Paris,” said Cooper, who’s lived in Las Vegas her entire life. “We’re going to be there for about five days.”

Before checking out the sites, Cooper will enter the ring with a growing reputation that began many years ago as a child amateur star who wowed people with her quick hands and feet. She also surprised many with her killer instinct.

“She’s always been that way,” said James Pena her trainer and manager. “Melinda is very serious about her fighting.”

Gabriel Gaide, a former prizefighter, sparred a few rounds with Cooper to give her some live work.

“She hurt my ribs,” Gaide said pointing to the left side of his abdomen. “She hits very hard.”

Though she captured a world title at flyweight a year ago, Cooper feels she’s barely hitting her stride.

“I can be 100 times better,” she says emphatically. “I learn something every time I get in the ring.”

In her last two fights she captured wins against Lina Ramirez, a tall and sturdy fighter accustomed to engaging featherweights and junior lightweights. Though the Mexican born fighter out of Tijuana endured all four rounds, she was never close to winning the fight.

“I can be a boxer or puncher,” says Cooper who has nine knockouts on her resume, a large number of knockouts for a female prizefighter.

In her world title fight, Cooper used a blend of speed and power to bludgeon the crafty but slightly overmatched Anisa Zamarron of Texas for the IBA title. Finally after nine rounds, referee David Mendoza stopped the bout as Cooper rained punches from all angles on Zamarron.

Despite winning a world title at 19, she has bigger goals.

“I want to win titles at 115, 118, and 122 pounds,” said Cooper. “I want all of the belts.”

Jean Paul Mendy

Also on the fight card in France will be Jean Paul Mendy, a ranking super middleweight who is also promoted by Gaide’s Round One Entertainment. Mendy (20-0) meets Great Britain’s tough Matthew Barney (21-6-1) for the European EBU super middleweight title in the main event.

“We offered to fight Joe Calzaghe but nobody wants to fight Jean Paul,” Gaide said.

Bolo vs. Yankee Diaz in California Heavyweight Clash

Damian “Bolo” Wills (19-0-1, 15 KOs) defends his California heavyweight championship against Cuba’s Yamplier “Yankee Diaz” Azcuy (13-3) at the Henry Fonda Theater on Thursday June 8, 2006 in Hollywood, California. Wills is attempting to jump into the next level and has improved in each of his fights the last year. It’s the California-based heavyweight’s biggest test yet. Azcuy has fought several top contenders including Sam Peter and Kirk Johnson. He’s the only fighter who can claim a victory over Juan Carlos Gomez. He surprised Gomez with a first round knockout in 2004. But he’s looking for his first win in almost two years. Azcuy had two no-decisions in 2005. Wills, who is trained and managed by Riverside’s Terry Claybon, finally gets a big test on Thursday. If he passes it, perhaps a showdown against Riverside’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola could follow. That would be a pretty good sell for Southern California fight fans. For tickets and information call (323) 525-0120.

More Jose Luis Castillo

After Jose Luis Castillo failed to make the designated 135 pound weight limit, his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank was livid. Even before the second weigh-in attempt, Arum was saying he did not want the opponent Diego Corrales to accept a fight with Castillo. “It’s disgraceful for boxing,” Arum said. “I don’t think he (Castillo) deserves to fight.”

Corrales broke down momentarily after realizing he would not be getting a $1.1 million dollar check. Castillo was to make $900,000. But his promoter Gary Shaw advised him against giving the almost five-pound weight advantage once again to Castillo. Even Castillo’s promoter Arum felt it was “unfair and not professional” of his fighter to come in heavy once again.

Showtime executives said Corrales would be given another televised bout either in July or August. Castillo, they added, would never be given an opportunity to fight in their televised shows again.

Ice skater’s cousin slips

Michele Kwan’s cousin Christina Kwan must have slipped on the ice when she was knocked out by Florida’s Valerie Rix (4-0) in the first round. It was a battle of strawweights that immediately showed Kwan (0-1), though willing, in her pro debut, is not a professional prizefighter. Not yet.

The fight was not shown on television and was the final bout of the fight card at Thomas and Mack Center last Saturday. During the first exchange Rix landed a combination that visibly stunned Kwan. But she returned to engage once again and was flattened by another combination at 48 seconds of the initial round.

Though Kwan was beaten soundly, it was against a sound boxer in Rix. Kwan had a lot more style and skill than another ice skater Tonya Harding.


Hard-hitting Jose “Bazuquita” Magallon (5-0, 2 KOs) met an eager opponent in Monterrey. Mexico’s Alex Esquivel (3-1) in a four-round junior lightweight bout. Both entered the ring undefeated and somebody’s O had to go. It was the southpaw Esquivel who took the loss. Magallon, 20, has been a regular fixture in his hometown Las Vegas, and finally met someone with a winning record. From the first bell both exchanged blows in furious fashion with neither giving ground. Finally, after more than 100 blasts were traded, Magallon’s better technique began to show and he slowly took away Esquivel’s weapons one by one. It was a good display of learning quickly during the heat of battle for the Las Vegas boxer. I’ve seen him fight four times and he does have speed and power. The minor glitches in his attack: he tends to hit after the bell repeatedly and behind the head. It could lead to a disqualification sometime in the future when a lot of chips are on the table.

Vic Darchinyan

The IBF flyweight champion known as the “Raging Bull” wants action not talk. “Jorge Arce must be chicken if he doesn’t want to fight me,” said Darchinyan after beating down the rock chin of Luis Maldonado. The Armenian boxer doesn’t fight like most Armenians, who box in the European style. Darchinyan fights more like an Aussie and has the chin to go with it. A fight between Jorge Arce would be explosive as both have heavy hands and high pressure tenacity. “I want 12 belts to go on my wall,” Darchinyan said, adding that he’s partial to moving up in several weight divisions including bantamweight and featherweight. “I want unification.”

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



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, 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



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


Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


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



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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