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Articles of 2006

Apples and Oranges? Taylor-Wright Should Be Peachy



LAS VEGAS, June 16 – As we were saying, there should be no interpolating Bernard Hopkins’s masterful performance over Antonio Tarver into making Jermain Taylor the big favorite tomorrow night over Winky (Don’t Call Him Ronald) Wright.

Horses for courses, styles make fights, pick your cliché, and we can so compare apples and oranges – both grow on trees, both are round, apples are red or green and oranges are, well, orange.

But do not think that because Taylor got – some would say “earned” –  two close decisions over the counterpunching Hopkins, who then routed a bigger, stronger and younger opponent in Tarver, does not translate into Taylor beating the counterpunching Wright, who is smaller and older.

Not all counterpunchers look alike. Some might look like Hopkins, some might look like Wright. And some might look like Rocky Marciano.

Eddie Futch helped train one of the best. Name of Smokin’ Joe Frazier. The great trainer told me how Frazier was in effect a counterpuncher, whose aggressive style forced opponents into trying to keep him off by throwing bad intentions.

Some counterpunchers are willing to take two or three to counter one.

I bring this up though there is no way the sweet science of Winky Wright should be mistaken for the bob-and-weave defenses of such sluggers as Marciano and Frazier. But Wright is no more Marciano than he is Hopkins.

The slender southpaw from St. Petersburg, unlike Hopkins, initiates most action behind his missile-like right jabs. He forces the opponent into throwing, then counters. He is a lot more active than is Hopkins – even the rejuvenated Bernard who took advantage of the completely off-form (shot) Tarver – and Taylor will be under much more pressure than he was in 24 rounds with the longtime middleweight king.

Ah, but Wright is much more of a gentleman. Taylor, who is very bright for someone who relishes hog calls, has noticed that Wright is a “cleaner” fighter who does not resort to butts and other fouls, like counterpunching below the belt, counterpunching behind the head and the usual assortment of Hopkins tricks.

In fact, though this may lose my card-carrying privileges in the curmudgeon society, I’m actually looking forward to Saturday night’s HBO show, which will begin with the taped showing of Hopkins-Tarver. Some nabobs of negativism may worry that Taylor-Wright could turn into some sort of chess match and they won’t get their allotted portion of blood and guts.

Good. I am hoping for something more artistic, more scientific, more sporting, something that could make Larry Merchant swallow his microphone.

I find this match intriguing. My original gut reaction, when it was announced, was that Wright was just too sophisticated for Taylor. I was impressed that the 27-year-old from Little Rock, after 24 rounds with Hopkins, would ignore his promoter’s advice and look for an easy defense. Taylor showed the class of champions by choosing to face the one true challenger out there. It augers well for his future in this business.

The promoter, Lou DiBella, then helped usher Patrick Burns, a trainer I like, out of Taylor’s corner and brought in Emanuel Steward. My respect for Steward is such that I no longer believe this is going to be an easy night for Winky.

In six weeks, there’s no way that Steward could do anything meaningful with Taylor’s basic style. I expect the kid will still be off-balance throwing his right hand, will still make mistakes defensively with his low left.

But the key to beating Wright is, and this seems so simple I’m ashamed to mention it, hitting him. That’s a lot easier said than done. No one has better defensive skills than Wright, and that includes Floyd Mayweather Jr., who surprisingly gets nailed from time to time (see Chop Chop Corley, Jose Luis Castillo, Sharmba Mitchell), James Toney and Chris Byrd.

It is not only skill that makes Wright as impregnable as Fort Knox. He has exceptionally long arms and when he holds them in front of him, it is almost as if he is wearing a suit of armor. Yes, he is vulnerable to body blows, but drop your hands to hit him there, there’s a good chance your face will be feeling the stings that stopped Felix Trinidad Jr. and Sugar Shane Mosley in their tracks.

So Steward’s addition to the camp makes me wonder if he sees something, the way Max Schmeling “saw something” about Joe Louis before their first encounter. Now, I am not certain that Pat Burns did not see the same thing – the classy trainer has not been answering my calls, obviously not wishing to cause any distractions – nor am I sure that Steward does have answers. The Kronkmeister has been on record saying Wright was the finest boxer pound-for-pound in the world. Now he’s trying to beat him with a comparatively raw talent. After taking over Taylor, Steward said “I knew he was booed, but he’s even better than I thought.”

Oh, where have we heard that one before? Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, for sure, but let’s not forget Steward has not always been able to transform losers. Of course, if Taylor gets past Wright, Steward will have a long leg up on trainer of the year honors for the work he has already done with Wladimir and the resurrection of the career of Kermit Cintron.

There are some knocks on Steward, too. I do not like to hear how Taylor has been brawling at the Kronk gym. Kronk, say it softly and it’s almost like saying it loudly. I first went there, goodness, 26 years ago, on the advice of the great Pat Putnam, who was then tied up with a major investigation for Sports Illustrated. He said the Detroit gym would make a good feature story.

Joseph Kronk was an otherwise forgettable Detroit city councilman and the squat building, sitting then alone in the middle of blocks of urban rubble, was a typical community center. There were rooms where women knitted, rooms where kids played ping pong. In the overheated basemen was the gym where Steward had begun an assembly line to rival any in Detroit. He would produce Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, the McCrory brothers, Gerald McClellan, and on and on, with the help of some wonderful assistant trainers. He would then branch out and become, as he likes to say, a “hired gun,” taking over other fighters – from Mark Breland and Evander Holyfield to both Oliver McCall and Lennox Lewis.

When we first met, Emanuel bragged how “you’ll never see a clinch at the Kronk.” True, and when Hearns was hurt in his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, he had no idea what to do and got knocked out. A few years later, after James Kinchen hurt him, Hearns not only grabbed his opponent, but was holding on to the referee as well. He had learned to clinch.

I suspect Taylor is going to have to know how to clinch, especially when Wright works inside. No, this is not going to be Hagler-Hearns, but it should be a spectacular matchup of two skilled middleweights. I expect to be entertained. I don’t expect to get rich unless the odds go drastically one way or another and then I’d be glad to bet the underdog, whoever it is. This is one bout almost too close to call. Okay, I have to make a pick. Wright by decision.

PENTHOUSE: All those caring readers who pointed out that Antonio Tarver was not “0 for Philadelphia,” as I wrote earlier in the week. Of course, he beat Eric Harding in the rematch (and never mind that Harding has long moved to Connecticut)….On the other hand, I did not say Hopkins rose two weight classes to beat Tarver. Since when is super-middleweight a class?

OUTHOUSE: What’s this I read by my old boss, Thomas Gerbasi? The Madison Square Garden ring for last Saturday’s Miguel Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi bout was smaller than usual. The New York State Athletic Commission should be ashamed, cowing to promoter Bob Arum in giving his fighter such an unfair playing field. But then, New York gave promoter Don King an edge by allowing him to bring Andrew (Foul Pole) Golota into the Garden for a title fight.

MORE DISS AND THAT: The other day, in that box on thesweetscience front page where old fighters are quoted, there was Joe Bugner saying he would even fight Jesus Christ. That wasn’t the punchline, though. Bugner had been under pressure from an angry British press corps which had found him carefree in a swimming pool the morning after one of the most lackadaisical efforts in heavyweight history and Bugner said he would fight anyone, even Jesus Christ. To which Hugh McIlvanney, the great Scotsman, replied with his burr, “Ay, that’s because you know he has bad hands.”….My favorite Bugner line was when, at the end of his first career when he was being managed by his wife, I asked him about sex before a fight. “My manager insists on it,” he said….The United States men’s soccer team was ranked No. 5 in the world, apparently by the IBF.

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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