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Articles of 2006

In This Corner, a Reason to Believe in Malignaggi



LAS VEGAS, June 9 – There’s a specter over the Miguel Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi fight tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden and his name is Billy Giles. He’s 56 and I haven’t seen one mention of him in all the prefight hype, but if Malignaggi scores the huge upset, it’ll be largely due to Billy Giles, one of the best trainers you’ve probably never heard of.

“What do you mean ‘upset’?” said Giles, brushing off the 9-2 odds that favor the undefeated Cotto or the 7-2 you can get on his kid. “I don’t think it’s an upset. We should win easy. Paulie’s faster, quicker, taller. Cotto is slow, one-dimensional, he comes straight in. He doesn’t know how to block punches.”

Yes, but he can punch like a burro, has great heart and has faced much better opposition than has Malignaggi, who has only five knockouts in a 21-0 career. But I remember, more than a quarter-century ago at what was then called the Felt Forum at the Garden, another young, brash New Yorker was about to make his pro debut at the age of 18. Though he had won a couple of local Golden Gloves title, none of the “experts” I consulted – Harold Weston, the Garden’s matchmaker, fight manager Shelly Finkel – thought the kid was anything more than a nice amateur who wouldn’t make it big in the pros.

It was a 1980 four-rounder against no tin can, a solid pro named David Brown, and after being dazzled by the kid’s handspeed and counterpunching, I saw something that shocked me. In the second round, I believe, the kid, a southpaw, threw a right hook that missed behind Brown’s head. Then, with his right hand behind Brown’s neck, he pulled the opponent’s head down straight into a left uppercut.

Later, he would use the same trick to score a one-round knockout of the rugged John Montes. I immediately told everyone that Hector Camacho was a future world champion. At the age of 18, he already knew tricks that most pros don’t know now. His trainers were a couple of guys from his Harlem neighborhood, Bobby Lee Velez and Billy Giles.

Both were disciples of the great Bobby McQuillen. “Not great,” said Giles, “THE greatest, the best trainer who ever lived.” Giles was more than a disciple. He was a nephew. Billy worked with many of New York’s finest – including Aaron Davis and Irwin Pierre Louis – and he would surface in the corners of such as Oleg Maskaev and Fabrice Tiozzo. Being friendly with Victor Valle Jr., he said he might go back to working with Maskaev, who challenges Hasim Rahman for the WBC heavyweight belt Aug. 12. But most of the time, Giles confesses to just “coolin’ out.” It’s not like he needs boxing.

Malignaggi is different. Giles lost a 9-year-old son to cancer last year and the boy was close to Malignaggi. He liked the Brooklyn blabber even before he became a member of the family. “He’s very easy to train, a smart kid and a quick learner,” he said. “We’ve had a perfect relationship.”

If Giles, and Malignaggi, are correct, and Cotto is indeed as slow-footed and one-dimensional as they believe, punching power will not mean all that much from either man. Cotto won’t be landing that many shots – “my guy’s not going to be easy to hit,” said Giles – against the elusive Malignaggi, whose lack of power shouldn’t hurt the WBO 140-pound belt-holder. However, if Malignaggi can negotiate around the Puerto Rican icon and accumulate points via a hit-and-make-miss strategy, he should do very well.

Cotto, said Giles, is very susceptible to Malignaggi’s combinations. “He stops punches, he doesn’t block ’em,” said the trainer.

The danger, of course, is that Cotto can always start slowing down Malignaggi, especially with his hard hooks to the body. The slower Malignaggi gets, the more Cotto will land. It could be a race better than the Belmont Stakes tomorrow in New York, Malignaggi entering the stretch with a nice lead and trying to hold on to the end. Belmont Park has the longest stretch in American racing, but nothing is as long as the final rounds for a tiring boxer. A trainer can lead his horse to the water, but those last tough yards can only be negotiated by heart and guts.

MEANWHILE: In Atlantic City, Bernard Hopkins showed again he was a born promoter when he took Antonio Tarver’s promise to knock him out within six rounds and turned it around. Tarver bet $250,000 on the knockout and Hopkins said, for a guy who recently was in bankruptcy, means that he’ll have to go for broke and so the two old men will actually put on a good show. Talk is easy. At their ages, Hopkins is 41, Tarver and older 37, it figures to be more posing and clutching and panting for breath. It certainly doesn’t figure to be as intriguing as Malignaggi walking a tightrope against Cotto, knowing one slip and he could fall….A couple of days ago, word in New York was that the Atlantic City show had sold less than 2,000 tickets whereas the Garden was 3,000 from a sellout. If a show doesn’t do well at the gate, it does not figure to do well on pay-per-view so I’m guessing Tarver-Hopkins does less than 300,000 buys. The competition in New York needs far less for Bob Arum to break even, especially with a nice live gate; I’m guessing 150,000….Hell, I can’t pick fights, might as well try working another gig.

CORRECTION: Earlier this week, I wrote that there’s no sense mourning for the financial losses of Arum and co-promoter Gary Shaw because of Jose Luis Castillo’s failure to make weight canceling the anticipated rubber match with Diego (Chico) Corrales, that the fight insurance would ease the pain. But Dandy Dan Rafael, one of my astute nephews, says fight insurance does not cover fat. Okay, I’m sorry for them. But I’m still not going to pass the hat.

PENTHOUSE: Bob Arum, for going ahead with his Garden show despite HBO usurping his date with Tarver-Hopkins. How’s that for an upset, Arum in the PENTHOUSE?…Also, for reasons I won’t go into in order not to embarrass the recipient, let’s add Tom Zbikowski, the Notre Dame football player whose pro debut at the Garden is the semifinal, for dipping into his pocket to help a guy out.

OUTHOUSE: Arum and his rivals at Golden Boy for not working things out so that boxing fans could watch both cards live. The game doesn’t need dueling dates.

MORE DISS AND THAT: Fred Sternburg, the PR whiz, was working up a storm with Tommy Z. One need not be Sherlock Holmes to decipher Fast Freddie’s fine hand behind some of the great quips coming out of New York. To with, Robert Bell – the 2-2 fighter from Akron, Ohio, who opposes Zbikowski, will be wearing a Ohio State football uniform into the ring. Bell said he would turn Tommy Z into Tommy Zzzzzz after the Notre Dame football captain takes a “Big Ten-Count.”….Or the grand old man of boxing, Angelo Dundee, who’s working Zbikowski’s corner, saying when it’s over, Bell is “going to think he got by the Four Horsemen.”…While Tarver-Hopkins viewers will have their accustomed top crew from HBO – Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant, despite all the criticisms, are still terrific and Emanuel Steward is always good to hear – there’ll be a wonderful voice heading the telecast crew in New York. Welcome back, Tim Ryan, who was the best when he worked the fights a quarter-century ago for CBS with Gil Clancy. Too bad, though, he’s saddled with George Foreman. Wallace Matthews, who of course knows it all, should help….If you’re among those who will try to watch both telecasts tomorrow night, I suggest wearing a cervical collar to cut down on neck damage. Besides, it’s a fashion statement.

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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