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Articles of 2006

Taylor-Wright Fight Predictions

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Live Saturday night from Memphis, Tennessee in a fight broadcast on HBO, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor defends his middleweight crown against Ronald “Winky” Wright. No one looks good against Winky Wright, except for the octopus Sam Soliman, and the champion should to have hands full, but Taylor has youth, and Manny Steward, in his corner, so expect an intriguing matchup between a fully developed master boxer (Winky) versus a partially developed master puncher (Jermain) when these two get it on. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Taylor vs. Wright.

After watching HBO's “Countdown To Taylor-Wright” preview show, I would like to see Dan Birmingham, Wright's trainer, get in the ring with Emanuel Steward, Taylor's trainer, in a 12-round championship bout for the title of world's most dramatic trainer. Listening to Birmingham and Steward talk about their fighters is entertaining stuff. Birmingham is so intense he sounds like an actor playing a trainer on television. Steward oozes confidence. He is so sure of his methods that how can you go against Taylor? I'm not sure who to pick, but I can almost guarantee the fight will go the distance. Taylor by decision.
Mitch Abramson

Wright may have looked unbeatable against Felix Trinidad last year, but “Tito” — a one-dimensional puncher with little movement — played right into Winky's hands. Consequently, Wright was able to dominate Trinidad with his freakishly long right jab. Same thing with Shane Mosley, who was also physically outmatched against Wright. That won't be the case when Wright takes on Taylor, who is taller, bigger and more athletic than either Trinidad or Wright. Most importantly, he is seven years younger at 27 years old. Taylor's versatility, ability and youth will make this fight razor-close heading into the championship rounds. That's when Wright's experience and superior defense will come into play, as Winky pulls out the last two rounds against a frustrated Taylor to win a controversial split decision.
Matt Aguilar     

When the referee says, “Protect yourself at all times,” Winky Wright listens. He has a seemingly impenetrable defense, and comes out of his protective shell only long enough to throw short, precise punches. A throwback who is ready to take on all comers (no talk from Winky, as there was from Taylor’s camp, of taking an easier fight before this one), this former junior middleweight champion has grown comfortably into a middleweight. Although champion Jermain Taylor’s confidence is high after back-to-back victories over Bernard Hopkins – an accomplishment that has become even more impressive in light of Hopkins’ domination of Antonio Tarver last Saturday – in Winky Wright he is facing a puzzle he may not be able to solve. The fight will be competitive, but Wright wins by decision.
David Berlin

Tough one, but Winky still has that awkward, nobody-can-hit-me style. His southpaw stance might offer a few problems, but I don't think it will be a big factor. Taylor has the title belts and that always counts for something. He's a better fighter than he was before his Hopkins fights. Still, I'm going with Winky by decision.
Rick Folstad

Winky Wright is one of the most underrated fighters of all times. He has a lot of experience fighting everywhere against opponents with different styles and that’s why he scored major wins over Shane Mosley (twice) and Felix Trinidad. He has more experience in meaningful fights than Taylor, having fought 14 times for a version of the world light middleweight title. He became WBO/IBF champion… before his big wins over Mosley for the WBA/WBC belts. On the other hand, Jermain Taylor has only two important wins in his record: the ones against Bernard Hopkins. Beating an all-time great like Hopkins doesn’t make him great or even give him a spot in the pound-for-pound top ten. To be considered the best middleweight in the world and win the WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO belts, Hopkins had to prevail in 21 world title fights; Taylor just defeated Hopkins. He did it twice, but he just may be the kind of opponent Hopkins has trouble with. Wright on points.
Luca De Franco

I think Winky Wright has proven to be the consummate professional. I'm going with Winky via close decision.
Ralph Gonzalez

The team of Jermain Taylor/Lou “Mr. Emotion” DiBella has got it all over the team of Winky Wright/Gary “I've Never Met a Dessert I Haven't Eaten” Shaw. Wright's airtight defensive style may pose a few problems for Taylor, but over the long run, Taylor will figure him out. Taylor becomes “The Man” in the middleweight division with a convincing decision.
Randy Gordon

WINKY ALL THE WAY. He and Dan Birmingham have fought long and hard to get to this fight and have learned too much along the way to be vulnerable to anything Jermain Taylor brings, no matter who he has in his corner. Jermain may be a great guy who has overcome a rough, sad upbringing to enjoy stardom and all the rewards it bears, but to me, Winky Wright stands for the guys that have labored in the boxing trenches for years, unappreciated, unrecognized and unpaid. On Saturday it will be Winky Wright by unanimous decision over Taylor.
Amy Green

A real pick 'em fight for a change and naturally I can't pick' em. Hearing ugly rumors that Wright hasn't been working hard, which is impossible to believe unless something is wrong physically. Emanuel steward in Taylor's corner may have been able to spot the way through Winky's defense. Maybe. I’ve got to go with what I thought when the bout was made – Wright by close decision. It's not a prediction. It's my pick. I get paid to make picks. I don't get paid to be right.
Michael Katz

Winky Wright relies on positional fighting, a leveraging right jab to lead the way and being the bigger fighter. Against Jermain Taylor he gives up the physical advantages with which his technical prowess has been formulated. The middleweight champion will be coming in with a jab that Wright might find hard to handle, as well as quickness and serious right hands. Over the distance, Taylor has more options, more power and slightly more speed. That, to me, adds up to a 12 round decision.
Patrick Kehoe

If you throw out Bernard Hopkins, Wright has beaten at least a dozen fighters better than anyone Jermain Taylor has fought. On the other hand, apart from what was left of Felix Trinidad, he didn’t beat them as a middleweight. From this vantagepoint Taylor has clear advantages in youth, and in the fact that he is a natural 160-pounder while Winky is not. Wright has never been knocked out and we don’t see that happening here, but if Taylor can keep his wits about him and avoid the frustrations endemic to fighting Wright, he has the tools to become the first man of the millennium to beat The Winkster. Taylor by decision.
George Kimball

I had to pick someone so I'll go with youth and speed over age and experience. Taylor is a solid middleweight and may look at the Wright-Soliman fight and get the idea that Winky can be beat if you pressure him with odd angles and get away before any return fire comes. Wright is a stylish boxer, but remember that he doesn't dance around the ring and pepper opponents with jabs; he stands in front of them using angles and zinging counters to pile up points. So Taylor will have no problem finding Wright and should be able to fire right hands down the middle and move to not get stuck back if he uses more lateral movement. Nobody can fight like Soliman, but the fact is he was able to frustrate Wright with angles and a high punch output. It is not going to be an easy fight by any means and Wright will have some moments where he frustrates Taylor. Still, look for Taylor to use his edge in power and speed to log a close points win.
Joey Knish

Don't judge Winky Wright by his last performance against Sam Soliman. The 16-year vet just needs to get up for fights these days, and he was neither up not prepared for that unorthodox Australian whirlwind. Ah, but Taylor will be seeing the best of the Winkster, who will exploit that bow-and-arrow jab, that forward-leaning head, that telegraphed rocking motion, and his numerous other technical flaws. Emanuel Steward cannot undo that much in six weeks; Taylor may look cleaned-up in sparring or on the mitts but he will fall into old habits when he gets tired or desperate. Yes, Taylor is big and strong and has the heart of a champion. But Saturday Winky will prove that maxim: skills pay the bills. I see Wright winning a close decision, 7 rounds to 5.
Zachary Levin

Neither of these two fighters excites me much – especially when fighting each other. Wright beat a marginalized Tito Trinidad and Taylor beat a shrunken Bernard Hopkins who should have been fighting at light heavy. If Winky's on his game, he might to be able to befuddle Taylor. Bernard Hopkins couldn't do it though and Taylor should have the firepower and skills to eek out a split decision. Taylor via split decision.
Scott Mallon

Jermain Taylor has everything going for him – youth, power, Manny steward and an unbeaten record if you think he beat Bernard Hopkins, not once but twice. Still, I think old pro Winky Wright will win a decision.
Ed Schuyler

Ronald “Winky” Wright’s patient, defense-first attack has made greats like Felix Trinidad and Sugar Shane Mosley look downright bad. However, Taylor’s jab is much more punishing than Mosley or Trinidad’s. It will dictate the fight’s pace while Taylor’s other attributes will enable him to win a majority of rounds. Taylor by unanimous decision.
Aaron Tallent

I'm 50-50 on this one…We have to elevate Taylor after seeing how much Hopkins had left…Wright is a master boxer, a better technician than Taylor…but maybe Wright has a Tarver type night…he is after all 34…then again, Winky hasn't lost since 1999, does he even remember how to lose? Christ, you put me on the spot here…I like Steward as the tipping point and think Taylor will be too active for Winky…
Michael Woods

Yet another example of a hard to pick, meaningful championship fight in boxing's latest run of what seems like an almost weekly series of fine matchups. Another tough call indeed. It's easier to predict there will still be some “expert” goobers who don't see how far up the ol' pooper their heads look when they keep referring to a “dying” sport, year after year. The fact that Taylor and Wright got together so quickly after Jermain met Hopkins is another win for the fans. While there's enough solid evidence through previous showings by Wright to make it quite possible he keeps Taylor off balance for twelve rounds, it seems unlikely Wright can get a decision without initiating much of the action. Taylor should shove Wright around more effectively that Sam Soliman did. It may not be pretty, but Taylor will emerge victorious, and any win over Winky at this stage is a big win.
Phil Woolever

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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