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Articles of 2006

When A Win Isn’t A Win

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – It might seem unfair to describe a boxer with a 15-0 record as “underachieving,” but when you note that Elvin Ayala routinely seems to perform at the level of his opposition, the gifted New Haven middleweight demurs.

“I’m always there to do my best in the ring,” says Ayala. “If the other guy doesn’t come to fight, that’s on him.”

Ayala continued his winning ways by eking out a decision over Delaware journeyman Larry Marks in the main event of Rich Cappiello’s six-bout card at the Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday night, and while we thought his performance more dominating than did at least one judge, Steve Epstein, who scored it 95-95, the official result was a majority decision unlikely to enhance Ayala’s advancement in anyone’s rankings.

For the record, the Sweet Science card had it 99-91 Ayala, which was more in line with those of the two judges, Steve Weisfeld (98-92) and Don O’Neil (97-93), who had Elvin on top. It could well be that Epstein chose to reward the opponent for his bravery: Marks fought the last five rounds with blood absolutely gushing from a cut just below his left eyebrow.

After the second Marks had returned to his corner and inflamed an already overwhelmingly pro-Ayala audience by delivering a throat-slashing gesture that seemed to say “May you all lose at the blackjack tables tonight”).

Then in the fifth, Ayala allowed himself to be backed into the ropes, but bounced off with a slashing right hand that ripped Marks’ forehead wide open.

He might as well have hit him with a hatchet. The blood flowed immediately, and while his corner was able to patch the cut between rounds, Ayala repeatedly reopened it, occasioning at least three inspections from the ringside physician, Dr. Michael Schwartz.

The second half of the fight would seem to have become a race against time. Given the severity of the cut, you wouldn’t have bet a nickel at that point that this one was going to go ten rounds, but in the end it did.

Although referee Dick Flaherty closely monitored the wound and seemed tempted to stop it on several occasions, he deferred to the doctor, and the fact that Marks continued to fight back in turn led him to allow it to continue. Before the final round, when Schwartz made his final visit to the corner, Marks growled “I’m not going to stop.”

We took this to be a directive along the lines of “If you want to stop it you’re going to have to do it yourself,” but perhaps Dr. Schwartz shared Epstein’s view of the proceedings. In any case, he allowed the bloodied Marks to come out and fight the tenth.

Marks’ record fell to 28-8 with the loss. His ledger includes a win over one world champion (Charles Murray) and losses on points to two others (Cory Spinks and Six Heads Lewis, the latter in a 2001 WBA title fight), but those were several years and many pounds ago.

“I didn’t underestimate him,” insisted Ayala after a fight that, if nothing else, disproved the old adage that a win is a win. “I felt as though I took [Marks] out of his fight. I knew I had him hurt, but I sort of let him go.”

His record says that Mike Oliver has been fighting professionally for five years, but the 26-year-old Hartford featherweight has been a fixture on the New England boxing scene for a lot longer than that.

As a 9-year-old amateur Oliver regularly performed in exhibitions preceding the New England Golden Gloves championships (“When he sat down between rounds, his feet didn’t even touch the canvas, and [trainer] Johnny Duke used to have to lift him off the stool,” recalled Oliver’s present cornerman John Scully), and it is reckoned that Mikey-Mike might have participated in as many as 300 amateur bouts, only half of them officially recorded.

In Saturday night’s co-feature, Oliver was matched against Florida journeyman Terry Lantz. Lantz was coming off a mild upset of then 10-1 Allen Litzau in New Jersey last month, and hoped to turn the tables against yet another hometowner

It quickly became apparent that this was not going to be Lantz’s night. Oliver isn’t a hard puncher, but he is blindingly quick and able to land astonishing combinations while simultaneously avoiding retribution.

For seven frustrating rounds Lantz gamely chased after him, only to be repeatedly tattooed for his trouble, and the closest he came to landing a damaging blow of his own was a first-round rabbit punch that drew an admonition from referee Eddie Claudio.

Oliver is a superb counterpuncher, and on this night his most effective tactic came when he repeatedly allowed Lantz to attack his right glove with his face. By the eighth Lantz had a badly swollen left eye and had simply been worn down by the accumulation of punches, and when Oliver trapped him against the ropes to land an unimpeded barrage of seven or eight unanswered punches, Terry’s head was swiveling around like a speed bag. Referee Eddie Claudio halted the bout at 1:37 of the round.

Oliver is now 13-0. Lantz, now 10-6-1, refused the stretcher that was brought to the ring and walked out under his own steam, but was subsequently transported to Backus Hospital in Norwich for observation.

With former John Ruiz manager Norman Stone and New England legend Micky Ward in his corner, unbeaten Lowell (Mass.) light-heavyweight Joe McCreedy was on the way to sending his highly vocal cheering section home happy when he battered Iowan Jeffrey Osborne from the outset. A minute into the fight, Osborne was reeling, and desperately adopted an emergency game plan, moving into close quarters where he hoped to find refuge from McCreedy’s wider punches and get in a few short ones of his own      

This produced an almost inevitable clash of heads, opening a severe cut to McCreedy’s right eye, and Claudio stopped the fight on the advice of the ringside physician. Under Tribal regulations, had half the scheduled rounds (in this case, two) been completed, the result would have gone to the cards, but since they had not, the issue was instead declared moot. McCreedy is now 5-0-1, Ozzy 2-1-2.

Stoughton (Mass) cruiserweight Chris McInerney improved to 4-0-1 with a workmanlike performance in his four-rounder with former Massachusetts state champion John Rainwater. Rainwater, now 10-13, was cut above the left eye in the final stanza. All three ringside judges, as did the Sweet Science, scored it  40-36.

For three minutes it looked as though Boston cruiserweight Carlos Lovato might have bitten off more than he could chew for his pro debut against DeMarcus Clark. Clark, a sophomore running back at Texas Southern University, had been the all-time rushing leader at Booker T. Washington High in Shreveport, and for a while he looked to be headed for another 200-yard game.

At the bell Clark charged into Lavato’s chest like he was hitting a blocking sled, and by keeping the action at close quarters was able to use his strength and leverage to inflict some damage on the bigger man.  By the end of the first Lavato was bleeding from a cut below his left eye and sported a mouse under the right.

But by the time a clearly winded Clark broke the huddle for the second, the tables were completely turned. Able to utilize his jabbing range, Lovato landed a succession of left-right combinations to drive his weary opponent to the ropes, and once he had him there he landed an unimpeded succession of three sledgehammer rights to the body before putting him down with a big right to the head. Claudio stopped it without a count at 1:12 of the round. Clark is now 1-1, but football season is only a few months away.

The card had been configured for seven bouts, but South Boston middleweight Matt Ryan was prevented from making his pro debut because his medical paperwork was incomplete, and David Johnson, who was to have provided the opposition for Angel Camacho of Providence, was a no-show both at the weigh-in and the day of the fight.

Cappiello’s matchmakers managed to cobble together a fight between the remaining opponents, both of whom were previously unrated, and who by Saturday had become reasonably close in weight. (Louisiana debutante Phillip Lars had scaled 152 Friday night, but by the time he was reweighed for Camacho Saturday he was 156¼.)

The inexperienced Lars apparently hoped to get lucky, and came out of his corner emulating a windmill with a rapid-fire retinue of wild lefts and rights. Reasonably supposing that Lars would have to come up for air eventually, Camacho allowed this propeller to spin for a minute or so, and then at the first hint of a pause stepped in and decked the Louisianan with a left hook.

Over the next half-minute Lars went down two more times, the third from a right-left-right combination, all of which landed, leading Dan Schiavone to rescue Lars at 1:28 of the round.

The June 17 card will be televised via tape-delay, primarily in the New England and New York cable markets, as well as by FoxSportsNet International.

The Mohegan Sun will host a pair of Top Rank cards next month: Featherweights Steve Luevano and Cristobal Cruz headline Bob Arum’s July 21 Telefutura show, with undefeated Juan Manuel Lopez performing (vs. TBA) in the co-feature. Unbeaten middleweight Kelly Pavlik will meet former WBO Bronco McKart on a card that will also feature Philadelphia super-middle Anthony Thompson.

* * *       

MOHEGAN SUN ARENA
UNCASVILLE, Conn.
June 17, 2006

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Elvin Ayala, 160¾, New Haven, Conn. dec. Larry Marks, 161¾, New Castle, Del. (10)

Angel Camacho, 161, Providence, RI TKO’d Phillip Lars, 152, Shreveport, La. (1)     

CRUISERWEIGHTS: Chris McInerny, 196½, Stoughton, Mass. dec. John Rainwater, 199½, Worcester, Mass. (4)

Carlos Lovato, 195¼, Boston, Mass. TKO’d DeMarcus Clark, 183, Shreveport, La. (2)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Joe McCreedy, 169¾, Lowell, Ma. TD with Jeffrey Osborne, 171¾, Davenport, Iowa (1)

FEATHERWEIGHTS: Mike Oliver, 124, Hartford, Conn. TKO’d Terry Lantz, 125, West Palm Beach, Fla. (8)

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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