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Articles of 2006

Cotto-Malignaggi Fight Predictions

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The local kid Paulie Malignaggi takes on the Puerto Rican slugger and champion Miguel Cotto Saturday night at Madison Square Garden and live on PPV. This fight on paper and hopefully in the ring has something for everyone: a brash challenger vs. a strong silent champ, a quintessential boxer vs. a murderous puncher. Some think Malignaggi has bitten off more than he can chew and is in for a rude awakening. Some think Cotto’s days are numbered and Paulie’s speed and will make the champ look like a chump. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Cotto vs. Malignaggi.

Regarding the Paulie-Cotto fight, I've changed my mind about ten times as to who will win. One school of thought says that Cotto is too strong and powerful and will blast Paulie into the second row early. Another school, and these are people who know Paulie and have seen him from his days as an amateur, says that he is too quick and possesses the intangibles (good chin, technique, ring generalship – whatever the hell ring generalship is) to win a decision. I'll go with the New Yorker and say Paulie wins a majority decision and then spends two hours talking about it in the post-fight press conference.
Mitch Abramson

Miguel Cotto has at times looked like a miniature Mike Tyson in blowing out the likes of Gianluca Branco, DeMarcus Corley and Mohamad Abdulaev. But those fighters have been stationary targets who stood in the center of the ring and traded bombs with the Puerto Rican slugger. Corley had the ability to box, but instead opted to brawl, and, after some brief success, paid the price. Don't expect the quick-fisted, smart Malignaggi to be so cooperative. Back in 1987, Marvin Hagler indeed looked marvelous against straight-ahead brawlers Thomas Hearns and John Mugabi. But when Sugar Ray Leonard came along, Marvelous suddenly looked old and slow. It proved the axiom that styles make fights true. Expect the same scenario Saturday. Cotto is by far the bigger puncher, but he is decidely slower than Malignaggi, and he'll become frustrated by his inability to land big punches as the fight progresses. He'll try to go to the body, but Malignaggi will simply tie him up and frustrate him some more. In the end, Cotto will be a bewildered, stunned loser, via 12-round unanimous decision. And boxing will have a new star.
Matthew Aguilar

Before his fight with Billy Conn, Joe Louis famously said, “He can run but he can’t hide.” I can’t translate that into Spanish, but I bet Miguel Cotto can. Like Conn, Paulie Malignaggi has fast hands and can box, but he doesn’t have the firepower to keep Cotto off of him or to test Cotto’s vulnerable chin. Cotto, slower but much stronger, will cut off the ring and will walk down his challenger. And eventually he will catch him. Cotto retains his title by late round knockout.
David Berlin

Miguel Cotto is a terrific puncher, can get a lot of punishment without going down and has beaten many top-ranked fighters. Paul Malignaggi has only a few KOs in his record, has never been seriously hit and has never faced opponents ranked in any top-10.  But styles make fights and Paulie is very good at throwing fast combinations and moves continuosly. Cotto will have problems hitting him. Also, Cotto didn’t go the distance in most recent fights and who knows if he will be weaker and slower from the 10th round on. To win, Paul Malignaggi has just to keep away from Cotto’s blows. Paulie on points.
Luca De Franco

Cotto is both the champion and one of the better punchers in his division. Paulie has speed and ego in his corner. But his biggest win was over Denver's Donald Camarena, who has great potential, but he's not quite there yet. And how do you pick a guy with 22 knockouts to lose to a guy with five? Speed is the unknown quantity here, and though it might help Paulie survive 12 rounds, it's not quite enough. Cotto wins by easy decision.
Rick Folstad

Paul Malignaggi has the stuff to outbox Cotto, but not the guns to keep him away over the championship distance. Cotto will find the range late and score heavily. It'll be Cotto by late round (10th) TKO…As for Tarver-Hopkins, if Tarver's weight was up around 220 when he filmed Rocky VI, I've gotta' hand the fight to Hopkins via a ninth-round TKO. It'll be ironic, because that's just what happened to Roy Jones Jr. when he tried to shed 25 pounds after beating John Ruiz…Too much weight in too little time.
Randy Gordon

Malignaggi w12 Cotto – Okay, Billy Giles talked me into this outrageous prediction. I like Cotto, but he is slow-footed and he will not land too many punches. If Paulie's chin is anywhere close to his mouth, he will prevail.
Michael Katz

Malignaggi has a clear advantage in speed, but it’s dubious that it can sustain him over 12 rounds without Cotto catching him somewhere along the way. Cotto by a late-round TKO, then. In the other principal bout, Duddy should handle Freddy Cuevas with relative ease, and we’d be surprised if it lasts more than four.
George Kimball

Not sure how Malignaggi made it to the headline of a PPV event considering who he has fought. He is a fast moving, and even faster talking, motor mouth who needs three whacks at it to turn a light switch “off.” Cotto won't know if the wind went by or if he was touched by Paulie and will keep coming forward cutting off the ring. It will take time, but heavy hooks to the liver and shots to the arms will gradually take their toll on the Brooklyn native and slow him down. Once PM slows down and Cotto starts to land Malignaggi will realize he bit off more than he could chew – at this point in his career. Cotto gets a late KO after Paulie looks good early.
Joey Knish

Logic says Cotto is in a different league than Malignaggi, that it's almost a mismatch. Paulie will need to be flawless for 36 minutes in order to keep those heavy hands off him. Something tells me he will rise to the moment and be the King of New York come Saturday. Malignaggi by majority decision.
Zachary Levin

I haven't seen Malignaggi yet but from what I'm seen and heard, Cotto might have some difficulties with him. Might but I don't think so. Cotto UD12.
Scott Mallon

On paper Malignaggi should put up a gallant effort before getting stopped in his tracks by Cotto's power. But Malignaggi is no ordinary person. Nor is he an ordinary fighter. I'm probably picking with my heart rather than my head, but I believe Malignaggi is hungry and savvy enough to engage in the fight of his life and emerge with a decision victory in a highly entertaining scrap. Sometimes nice guys do finish first. Hopefully this is one of those times. Malignaggi W 12.
Bob Mladinich

It may not be fair to Paulie Malignaggi (He seems a likeable wise-ass. Trade the spiked hair for a duck’s ass; he’d be Fonzy), I’ve only stumbled on a few rounds of him live — seen highlight clips, the  cock-sure, fuhgeddaboudit interviews and heard the growing gym buzz from N.Y. friends who make him a live opponent. Fools gold? All I can think of is W.C. Heinz’s great novel, “The Professional,” written from the challenger’s point of view: the inhuman training, the sacrifice…24/7 around him — The growing confidence. The champ’s seen through the wrong end of binoculars…small, unthreatening – just another W. The way Conn viewed Louis…Chuck Davey, Kid Gavilan. The fight will have the same ending as the book; this time Cotto will be full size. It’ll be say-it-ain’t-so for Brooklyn fans. Cotto grinds-up Malignnagi in 7, after some early flash-‘n’-dash Camacho by the kid. It’d be a helluva lot more fun if Paulie wins; he’s a street-corner guy, like Pep and Graziano. Cotto has all the joy of Zora Folley.
Joe Rein

Miguel Cotto vs. Paul Malignaggi should be a very exciting fight. You have a devastating puncher in Cotto, and one of the fastest, not to mention most underrated, fighters in the sport in Malignaggi. If Cotto finds Malignaggi, chances are that WBO Junior Welterweight title is staying right where it is. However, as “The Greatest Of All Time” Muhammad Ali would say, “You can't hit what you can't see.” If it's the 7th or 8th round and Cotto has not yet found Malignaggi, he can kiss that title goodbye. This fight will be exhilarating, no doubt. Call me crazy, because most people will, but I just have a gut feeling that Malignaggi's speed and boxing skills will dominate Cotto's stalking power style. Malignaggi wins an easier than expected UD.
Alex Stone

Since winning the WBO Light Welterweight title in September of 2004, Miguel Cotto has rolled through his five defenses, ending all of them in nine rounds or less. While the undefeated Paul Malignaggi will prove formidable, this one will not go the distance either. Cotto by TKO.
Aaron Tallent

Bless Paulie – I think his rap is refreshing and since I'm based in NY, I've seen him so much that familiarity has led to fondness. That said, I fear he may step in with Cotto, and  Cotto will toss a bomb unlike anything he's experienced…I've heard from folks that Paulie has more pop (in sparring) than he's shown. OK. But I don't know if he has enough pop to put off Cotto. My heart says Paulie, my gut and brain say Cotto. But I'm rooting for Paulie. Go Brooklyn!
Michael Woods

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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