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Articles of 2006

Bobby Hitz’s Greatest Hits

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While growing up in the Chicago suburb of Bloomingdale, Illinois, Bobby Hitz was a standout football player who many people believed was destined to play in the NFL.

But Hitz’s first love was always boxing, which he began participating in as a teenager. After winning local CYO and Golden Gloves titles, he turned pro in June 1985 and became a stellar local attraction.

Campaigning until September 1989, most of Hitz’s bouts took place in the Chicago area, although he did venture to Auburn Hills, Michigan where he was stopped in the first round by George Foreman, and to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he was stopped in the same round by Pierre Coetzer of South Africa.

“I was supposed to fight Foreman four times,” said the now 43-year-old Hitz, who retired with a respectable record of 15-5 (10 KOS). “Every time I got myself in good shape, Foreman’s people would find another opponent. The fourth time I was out of shape, dead broke, and I needed the money.

“I took the fight on four days notice,” he continued. “I was so cocky, I still thought I would go in there and beat him. That’s how much I believed in myself. I had no fear of George.”

After being knocked to the canvas by Foreman’s thunderous punches, Hitz says that he is proud of the fact that he got up and, in his mind at least, was still full of fight. Much to his chagrin, the referee thought differently and stopped the fight.

“Michael Moorer didn’t get up and Gerry Cooney didn’t get up,” said Hitz, referring to two other notable Foreman knockout victims. “I got up and finished on my feet. I still don’t believe the referee should have stopped the fight.”

(According to boxrec.com, Hitz, whose given name is Hitzelberger, was a KO victim in the first round, which would indicate that he was counted out).

One positive thing to come out of the Foreman fight is that it introduced Hitz to Jackie Kallen, who became his promoter for his remaining three fights. His professional relationship with her enabled him to learn the business aspects of boxing, all of which would serve him well in his second career as a successful Chicago promoter.

“I got my Harvard education in Detroit, around Jackie, Emanuel Steward, and James Toney,” said Hitz. “One day in Atlantic City, Emanuel said you know enough about the boxing business to be good at it.”

Taking those words to heart, Hitz set out on his own and has never looked back. He promoted his first show in May 1994 at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. Toney, who at the time held a version of the super middleweight title, won a non-title 10 round decision over Vinson Durham.

“The Chicago Bulls were in Game 7 against the Knicks that night and I still drew 2,200 people,” said Hitz. “Had the Bills not been in Game 7, I would have sold 4,000 to 5,000 tickets.”

Hitz was so happy with his newfound success that he soon began promoting every six to eight weeks, a pace that he maintained for a decade. Along the way he opened a restaurant called Nano’s Café, in deference to the fact that is ethnic lineage is three-quarters Italian and one-quarter German.

“Nano’s became the focal point of the Chicago boxing community,” said Hitz. “I would have meetings there and make good deals during good meals.”

Over the years, Hitz promoted hundreds of shows, almost all of which were successful. Sometimes he did three a month, handling all of the logistics from matchmaking to public relations.

Eventually he became successful enough to hire some help, so he could promote both his shows and his name.

“My name became synonymous with Chicago boxing,” said Hitz. “I started doing a lot of radio and TV work. Chicago is the third largest sports market in the country, so there was a lot of hustle involved. I’ve never been afraid of hard work.”

Because he is a regular on Chicago sports shows, the charismatic Hitz says he “turned boxing into a broader opportunity.”

Hitz, whose longtime home base, the Ramada Hotel, was knocked down last year, has promoted the likes of Toney, O’Neil Bell, Andrew Golota, Angel Manfredy, Anthony Jones, and Angel Hernandez.

His favorite promotion was a rival neighborhood matchup between Tony LaRosa, who hailed from Bridgeport on Chicago’s South Side, against Lenny LaPaglia, who came from Melrose Park.

The mini-epic took place in November 1994 at the Ramada. The once promising LaPaglia was stopped in the third round.

“Two Italian guys from different neighborhoods had the fans hanging from the rafters,” said Hitz. “It was a great show.”

Hitz has promoted many fighters to world title contention. One fighter who he says he developed over time was Bell, who now holds several versions of the world cruiserweight title.

“He got stolen from me and then went on to win a world title,” said Hitz. “There is no loyalty in this game. Fighters, not promoters, are the biggest problem in boxing today. Not because they are bad people, but because they listen to everyone around them.”

When Don King brought WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster to Chicago in May 2005 to fight Golota, Hitz says that he felt betrayed by the wild-haired promoter.

“I laid the groundwork for him to come to Chicago and even sold $40,000 worth of tickets for him,” said an angry Hitz. “Everyone warned me not to trust him, but I did. We always had a great relationship, so I saw no reason not to trust him. He went behind my back and kept me out of the promotion completely. When I told him ‘Don, you [bleeped] me,’‘he said, ‘C’mon, you’re my guy.’ I said, “I’d rather not be your guy and get my due.’”

Hitz does enjoy good working relationships with most everyone else in boxing, but says that the episode with King soured him for a time. It is only now that he is once again getting a taste for boxing action.

“Fighting was a lot easier than what I’m doing now,” said Hitz. “As a promoter you have to learn how to be in a cesspool and not get dirty. I never lost my sense of integrity and always treated everyone I dealt with fairly.”

That, among other things, is what made him so successful. He says that he never believed in building up opponents by giving them one easy mark after another and always put his fighters and his loyal audiences first.

“I love the fights, but I never get to sit down and enjoy them,” said Hitz, whose one sibling, a brother, had once been a Jesuit priest. “I’m running around shaking hands, kissing babies, interceding in security issues, and making sure that everyone is having fun. It’s important for me to give the customers a good bang for their buck. When a guy shakes my hand, says he bought ten $100 tickets and asks when the next show is, that is an accomplishment.”

Another of his greatest accomplishments is his 10-year-old son, Bobby Jr. Although Hitz is divorced from his son’s mother, he said that he slowed down his boxing duties to be more of a father to his son after the split. Spending time with his son has given him the ability to put all that is important in the proper perspective.

Moreover, it gives him even more incentive to stay honest as he plans his boxing resurgence in the coming months. Just because he believes that he got shafted by a rival promoter and fighters who he developed only to see them flee in the end, doesn’t mean that he should sacrifice any of his own honesty and integrity.

“In ten years my son will be running around as Bobby Hitz Jr.,” said the proud father. “A lot of people will know him because a lot of people know me. When people tell him that his father treated them well, nothing will be more important to me than that. That will make me more of a success than any boxing promotion ever did.”

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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