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Articles of 2006

Tarver vs. Hopkins: It’s Election Time All Over

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Decisions. Decisions.

It’s bad enough that it’s election week, but now boxing fans are forced to pick between a loaded fight card in Atlantic City and another in New York on Saturday, June 10.

Light heavyweight world champion Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver defends against future Hall of Fame middleweight Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (46-4-1, 32 KOs) at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The fight will be aired by HBO pay-per-view.

Meanwhile, up north, another pay-per-view show featuring two junior welterweights in the main event will go head-to-head with the Golden Boy Promotions fight card in New Jersey. It’s a battle between two promoters as Top Rank’s show features Miguel Cotto and Paul Malignaggi in New York City.

In Atlantic City it’s a main event featuring Hopkins, a shoo-in for the Boxing Hall of Fame, against Tarver who made his fame by beating another Hall of Fame candidate Roy Jones Jr. twice; the first time by stunning knockout.

Tarver, who took a sabbatical to finish the latest Rocky movie, finally returns to the ring after an eighth month absence from the ring. It’s the longest he’s been away from a match in three years. Rumors spoke of the Floridian reaching more than 215 pounds.

“I always go up in weight but I always return to form,” Tarver (24-3, 18 KOs) said. “It’s no problem.”

With a high voltage match between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo getting short-circuited because of weight problems, it’s a bigger issue.

Hopkins will be returning to the 175-pound weight division where he suffered a loss in his first fight. He then was sent to prison for more than a year and when he returned to boxing, it was at middleweight where he reigned supreme for 12 years.

“You all know me, you know what I can do. Weight is not an issue,” said Hopkins, 41, while in Los Angeles for a press tour. “I love being the underdog.”

Not since losing to Clinton Mitchell in October 1988 has Hopkins fought as a light heavyweight. Now, after 17 years, the Philadelphia fighter is returning to 175 pounds to face an opponent who is bigger, stronger and younger.

“He’s about to make the biggest mistake of his career. No doubt about it,” Tarver said emphatically. “In fact, he’s endangering his life.”

Tarver, 37, was chosen by Sylvester Stallone to play a character named Mason Dixon in Rocky 6, a motion picture that was supposed to open this summer but will now open during Christmas. It’s an experience that has opened his eyes.

“Working with Stallone showed me a whole new world,” Tarver says with zeal. “I can see myself returning to films.”

Returning to the ring for perhaps the last time, Hopkins wants to end his storied career with a flourish and do it against Tarver, an opponent seen as the best in his division. After losing twice to Jermain Taylor, in close decisions, the Philadelphia prizefighter wants to close the show spectacularly. He wants to beat a bigger man.

Hopkins is now chasing legendary status. He’s accomplished more than any other middleweight in history by defending the middleweight title a record 20 times. He even surpassed his idol the late great Sugar Ray Robinson who had ruled the welterweight and middleweight divisions from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Now, Hopkins once again hopes to one-up his idol by doing what Sugar Ray couldn’t do: beat the best light heavyweight in the world.

Robinson had attempted the feat in June 25, 1952 against light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim at Yankee Stadium. It was a hot muggy night that saw Robinson use his speed and alacrity to out-score Maxim. But by the 11th round the constant pressure by Maxim and the unbearable heat, sapped all the energy from the Hall of Fame great. He quit on his stool from heat exhaustion.

Hopkins realizes he can draw comparisons from beating light heavyweight champion Tarver. But it’s figuratively a tall order.

“I have a bitter taste in my mouth from my last two fights,” Hopkins said. “You’re going to have the type of fight that people are going to talk about for years.”

Tarver shakes his head at Hopkins promises.

“I’m grossly underestimated,” says Tarver. “I’m one of the best fighters in the world.”

Tarver feels that since his amateur days he’s been in the shadows of other fighters like Jones, Hopkins and others.

“One bad decision during the Olympics and they (boxing journalists) tried to sweep this great career under the rug,” said Tarver. “He too will succumb to the heat, but not to the temperatures, but to the heat of the Magic Man.”

The heat is on for boxing fans too. Which show do you spend money on: the Atlantic City light heavyweight title fight? Or the New York junior welterweight title fight?

More decisions.

Israel Vazquez defends IBF junior feather title

Israel Vazquez (39-3, 28 KOs), the Fighter of the Year for 2005, defends his IBF world title against former junior bantamweight world champion Ivan “Choko” Hernandez (23-1-1, 13 KOs) on the under card of Hopkins-Tarver on June 10.

Vazquez, 28, a native of Mexico City, was selected the best fighter for a riveting upset knockout over Oscar Larios. Vazquez was a five to one under dog and stopped Larios in three rounds last December.

Hernandez, a native of Ensenada, Mexico, is a former junior bantamweight champion who has some notable wins including a knockout of Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson.

Machito returns

No one else in boxing makes fans laugh more than Hector “Machito” Camacho Jr. (41-1-1, 23 KOs) whenever his name is mentioned. Is it because he’s such a terrible boxer?

Definitely no. He only has one loss in his career. One loss.

Basically the speedy southpaw son of the great Hector Camacho Sr. – who will surely be voted into the Hall of Fame when he finally retires – has been willy nilly about getting into the ring for a consistent amount of time. Sure he fought and beat four fighters in the last two years, but he’s been looking mighty chunky doing it. It’s plain and simple, Machito loves to eat.

The swift southpaw faces Andrey Tsurkan (22-2, 14 KOs) of the Ukrained for the vacant NABF junior middleweight title in Atlantic City.

After losing to Omar Weiss in 2002 following a nationally televised bout against Jesse James Leija when the country saw Camacho opt to quit instead of fight the Texan, basically the fans feel he has no heart.

Camacho’s best win in the last few years came against Nelson Estupinan, a hard-hitting Mexican who took Carlos Bolillo’s senses with a wicked right hand a year earlier. He also dropped Camacho but found the Puerto Rican boxer’s speed too overwhelming. Machito still has talent. But can he fight and win consistently at junior middleweight? He’s only 5-8 in height. Lucklily Tsurkan is only 5-8 too. One more thing, Machito is only 27.

Fights on television

Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Brian Minto (24-1) vs. Danny Batchelder (24-1)

Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Antonio Tarver (24-3) vs. Bernard Hopkins (46-4-1); Israel Vazquez (39-3) vs. Ivan Hernandez (23-1-1)

Sat. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Miguel Cotto (26-0) vs. Paul Malignaggi (21-0); Kevin Kelley (58-6-2) vs. Bobby Pacquiao (26-11-3)

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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