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Articles of 2006

Can Jermain Taylor Checkmate the Winky Defense?

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Just how good is middleweight king Jermain Taylor?

The undisputed middleweight world champion defends his titles against the feared and much avoided Winky Wright on Saturday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. The fight will be televised by HBO.

Southern-bred gentleman Taylor meets Florida’s Wright (50-3, 25 KOs) in a fight that now has increased value and interest following Bernard Hopkins epic win last weekend.

Last year Taylor managed to engage Hopkins for 24 rounds and emerged victorious in a pair of encounters with the certain Hall of Fame boxer. Many felt Hopkins' advanced age was the reason that the 27-year-old Arkansas fighter was victorious.

“The rap on Jermain is he didn’t look good against Bernard Hopkins,” said Lou DiBella, who promotes and advises Taylor. “But who has ever looked good against Bernard?”

Once again Taylor, 27, faces an opponent whose forte is defense, defense, defense. It doesn’t seem to bother the always-amiable Arkansan.

“I’m not worried about his defense. He can sit there and defense. I can defense with him too and there would be two guys doing nothing,” said Taylor (25-0, 17 KOs) during a telephone conference call last week. “I just feel he don’t have nothing coming with just defense.”

Wright’s prickly defense has gained him victories over elite fighters such as Felix Trinidad and two wins against Sugar Shane Mosley. He was the underdog in each of those matches except the rematch with Mosley.

But can Wright’s standup southpaw stance hold up against the sledgehammer punches of Taylor who pounded Hopkins relentlessly? It was volume not quality that captured both decisions for him.

“He’s bigger, so what?” said Wright, 34, by telephone. “We ain’t wrestling.”

Against the hard-punching Trinidad, a fight that saw Wright the underdog by as much as five to one, the Florida boxer jabbed and blocked the Puerto Rican silly. So humiliated by the loss was Trinidad, he has not returned to the ring.

In the two fights with Mosley, the right jab thudded off the Pomona fighter’s head all night long.

“He throws a different kind of jab,” Mosley says. “It’s a high jab off the top of the head.”

After the wins against Trinidad and Mosley, offers to fight Wright became scarce. So he fought Sam Soliman and won by unanimous decision against the Aussie, but more than a few people noticed chinks in Wright’s defense.

“He can be beat,” said Oscar De La Hoya, who has mentioned Wright as a possible opponent for his final fight. “There is a way to beat Winky Wright.”

One fighter who did beat Wright is Fernando Vargas.

“I beat him on my worst day,” said Vargas about their encounter back in December 1999 when the Oxnard fighter was drained by having to lose weight the day before. “Imagine what I would do now.”

Wright expects to be the enemy when he steps in the ring in Memphis, just across the Mississippi River from Arkansas.

“I’ve been in front of 20,000 [hostile] people. The crowd won’t be a problem for me,” said Wright, who fought many times overseas in France, South Africa, Germany and Argentina. “The fans can be chanting but I know there’s only two of us inside the ring.”

Taylor claims he absorbs the fans energy when inside the ring and hears the Arkansas fans give the Razorback cheer.

“When I step into that ring there is going to be so much energy. All of the energy in the building I think it helps you out,” says Taylor, whose fans dressed in red attire made the long trek from Arkansas to Las Vegas, Nevada in the Hopkins fights. He expects more for this fight.

Speaking of Hopkins, immediately after his win over Tarver, he leaned over the ropes to talk to Taylor’s new trainer Emanuel Steward to say that Taylor is truly a great middleweight champion and wished him luck.

If Taylor beats Wright on Saturday, a lot of questions will be answered about his ability.

Who fights the winner of Taylor-Wright?

Despite the retirement of Bernard Hopkins, a number of middleweights remain that can offer the winner of Taylor-Wright resistance.

Middleweight prizefighters have always been numerous because that’s an average size for most males. Usually middleweights are from 5-7 in height to 6-2. The limit of 160 pounds is about average for most men in the world.

“Middleweights are as fast as featherweights and hit as hard as heavyweights,” said Larry Merchant when asked to describe the 160-pound limit division.

Here’s a list of capable middleweights in no particular order:

Arthur Abraham (21-0, 17 KOs) – He beat Kingsley Ikeke for the vacant title and successfully defended it against Shannon Taylor and Kofi Jantuah. Many say his strength is his strength. He fights out of Germany, a boxing hotbed in Europe.

Felix Sturm (25-1, 11 KOs) – The tall left-handed boxer has a stiff jab and good defense. Don’t match him against Winky ‘cause it be like fighting a mirror. But against anybody else it would be an interesting fight. He’s tall at 6-1 and has good speed.

Sam Soliman (32-8, 13 KOs) – Forget his eight losses. This busybody can give anybody fits, just ask Winky. The Aussie middleweight takes a good punch, throws punches in bunches and never tires. Anybody who fights him needs to be in tiptop shape.

Sergio Mora (18-0, 4 KOs) – Aside from his unorthodox style of boxing, he has speed and agility. You would think it would be easier to fight him inside, but he loves it close in too. He’s a gritty competitor who will surprise a lot of middleweights who take him lightly. Expect him to fight for a world title by the end of next year.

Kelly Pavlik (27-0, 24 KOs) – He’s tall, hits hard and now people know he can take a punch too. Against Fulgencio Zuniga he faced a tough no-nonsense prizefighter bent on taking his head off. But the Youngstown, Ohio boxer showed big heart in recuperating from a knockdown early in the fight and pulling away with solid boxing skills. Very impressive.

Edison Miranda (26-0, 23 KOs) – The rock-fisted Colombian meets Arthur Abraham in August to decide the IBF title. His stoppage over Howard Eastman sent shockwaves in the boxing world. He fights out of Miami. That’s not a good thing. Too many distractions over there. But so far, the beach bunnies haven’t stopped “La Pantera” yet.

John Duddy (17-0, 15 KOs) – It may be too early to claim the Irish knockout puncher can swing with the best in the division, but so far he has looked determined to end every fight quickly and with an entertainment value. He’s worth keeping an eye on.

Anthony Thompson (21-1, 15 KOs) – The Messenger looked terrible against Darnell Boone in his last fight, but looked terrific against Adrian Lopez the match before. Will the real Thompson show up? As a welterweight he seemed too listless. With the extra weight he seems to be stronger, but tends to be too calculating.

Andre Ward (9-0, 5 KOs) – He began as a super middleweight and has dropped down to 160. People seem to forget he’s around but the kid has big time talent with speed to spare. Lately he’s been more focused and respectful of his opponents and it shows in his performance. He looked so-so against Darnell Boone a skillful fighter and was dropped once. But against Andy Kolle he used all of his weapons in forcing a stoppage. Ward is only 22.

These are the guys who should fight the Taylor-Wright winner. Accept no substitutes.

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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