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Articles of 2006

Peace and A Poll

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In 2003, there was an effort by a group of prominent Israelis and Palestinians to come up with a peace accord on their own, outside of normal governmental and political channels. Known as the Geneva Accord, its authors included Israeli politician Yossi Beilin, who had held ministerial positions in the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak, and is now a member of Israel’s Knesset, and Yasser Abed Rabbo, former Minister of Culture and Information in the Palestinian National Authority and a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 1971.

The proposal, although not finished, would have had Israel agree to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. The borders were similar to those which existed before the 1967 war, and a means would be found to deal with the thorny issue of the Palestinian refugees, including repatriating some and possibly compensating others.

The problem with this proposal was not that all of its details were not spelled out. Clearly the final dots could easily be connected. The problem was that when presented to both Israelis and Palestinians, few supported its general outlines. One poll put Israeli support at only about 30 percent, while another showed a majority of Palestinians opposed the general idea of recognizing Israel and everything related to that. The minds of the people are just not ready for such a rational and peaceful settlement, so the bloodshed goes on, the politicians and the arms industry stay rich and happy, and the average people, whether opposed to or supportive of peace, continue to suffer and die.

The sport of fighting has its own internal blood wars, although the ideologies trying to rationalize them do not invoke dueling religious authorities. Boxing, like all sports, aims at crowning champions in its quest to entertain the fans. The absence of undisputed champions damages the credibility of the sport, and helps its continued marginalization in an age of rapidly increasing media, sports, and entertainment choices.

One solution proposed to the absurd proliferation of alphabet soup sanctioning bodies was by The Ring. This magazine is now again awarding their own championship belts. However, even they have handed out just eight such belts in boxing’s 17 weight classes.

There are problems with many of them. O’Neil Bell holds their belt at cruiserweight, but he has talked of going up to heavyweight for the proposed Superfighter tournament, should that actually take place.

Bernard Hopkins is their light heavyweight champion, but he has repeatedly said that he is now retired as an active fighter.

Joe Calzaghe is their super middleweight champion, although the plans for his next fight, and at what weight, are now unclear.

Jermain Taylor is their middleweight champion. Since he won it by defeating Hopkins, who had gained the undisputed middleweight championship in that famous 2001 tournament, there is little argument here, except by some of these useless sanctioning bodies. However, even the awarding of these belts by The Ring has encouraged no one to set up unification tournaments in other weight classes.

Carlos Baldomir is their welterweight champion. He won it by defeating unified champion Zab Judah in January, yet many do not regard him as being the best fighter in his division. Baldomir fights Arturo Gatti July 22 in Atlantic City. If Gatti wins, he will get this title. But just a year ago Gatti was badly battered en route to a TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather. Although that fight was at junior welterweight, both are now welterweights. Would awarding Gatti such a title with this recent loss to Mayweather so fresh in the public’s mind add to the credibility of their titles?

Ricky Hatton is their champion at junior welterweight, a weight class in which he no longer competes.

The last two champions are Diego Corrales at lightweight and Israel Vazquez at junior featherweight. Both are regarded as the tops in their divisions, even despite the latest fiasco involving Jose Luis Castillo’s failure to make weight for a second straight time in the rubber match with Corrales.

Even with these champions named by The Ring, this doesn’t exactly turn the sport on its ear and have the fans marching in the streets in celebration. The Ring has no heavyweight champion, following the highly controversial awarding of their belt last year to Vitali Klitschko, who subsequently retired. That is still the division with the most marketing potential, even with its always-noted limited talent base.

Another problem of having The Ring as the sole arbiter of championships is that this can work only if competing media mention and recognize their titles. Some of the American television networks have been doing so, but they themselves also have their own quite transparent corporate agendas and, thus, quite limited credibility. Others, and with good reason, do not want to cede such authority to an outside corporate body over which they have no control or influence, and no one else does either except their corporate owners.

Another solution was floated several years ago to start a rankings poll among the general boxing media. This was called the Boxing Writers' Rankings Poll (BWRP) and was started by Boxingranks.com, where I was editor, a writer, and Internet radio producer and host in 2004 and 2005.

From about 2000 on, there were actually three incarnations of this poll. The most recent, begun in early 2005, had signed up over 100 registered voters. Most came from the U.S., with most of those being members of the Boxing Writers Association of America, but there were also a number of voters from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. Several of them still write for this web site. In each poll, approximately 30 of the registered voters actually cast ballots.

For a while, Boxingranks.com achieved success, both editorially and in attracting traffic. Ironically, just as it was preparing to close down, it achieved some if its highest rankings according to the independent web rankings site, Alexa.com. On Sept. 17, 2005, its daily traffic ranking was 39,597. Its weekly ranking was 65,708. Its three-month average then was 83,857, an increase of 275,998 in the previous three months. That made it one of the top trafficked boxing sites in the world, and its influence was growing.

But its financial situation was not good. It was seeking investors, but to no avail. On Oct. 1, 2005, it stopped posting original material, and by that time all the writers and editors, including myself, had been let go. It was just a matter of time until the whole project collapsed, unless of course some financial angel descended from the heavens to save those trying to save this hell of a business.

That end was finally announced this past Wed., June 14, in an e-mail sent by its founder, Howie Sirota, to BWRP voters:

Subject: Boxingranks.com & BWRP to CLOSE

I sincerely regret to inform you that we are no longer running the Boxing Writers' Rankings Poll (BWRP) and that Boxingranks.com will cease to exist online after June 30, 2006.

I want to thank each of you for helping us attempt to achieve the vision of Jack Newfield and Pete Hamill and other members of the boxing writers' poll. Your participation was essential and is very much appreciated. Unfortunately, we could not obtain a sponsor or investors to permit us to continue to conduct the monthly online poll and maintain the website.

Again, thank you all.

Best regards,

Howie Sirota

The BWRP and Boxingranks.com were not without their own problems. The site was horribly designed, long outmoded, and not user-friendly. The results of the BWRP were fairly good and always credible, but sometimes changed from month to month depending on who decided to vote, rather than just who won in the ring. Although there were no championships awarded, the number one spot was most closely looked at, with sometimes Vitali Klitschko and Chris Byrd trading the top spot at heavyweight based solely on the composition of that month’s list of voters. Also, some voters took a month or more to take into account some results, especially in fights in the lower weight classes and in Asia or Latin America. Voters from those regions were actively recruited, with varying degrees of success.

None of these problems, however, were key to the eventual failure of both the BWRP and Boxingranks.com. A major part was a poor business plan for securing financing and even poorer implementation of it. But even here there was a deeper problem.

The list of voters included writers for virtually every major American boxing web site, numerous major newspapers, several major sports and boxing magazines, and many other media outlets around the world (since the poll’s home site of Boxingranks.com is shutting down, I can send or post this list if people want to see it).

However, almost none of these media outlets reported on the results of the BWRP. Since the BWRP was sponsored and run by a rival and independent media outlet, Boxingranks.com, the poll went unmentioned, despite the participation of so many of their journalists.

In other words, the other media businesses were loath to report on a project undertaken by a rival media business. Or, as the mob is quoted as saying, it’s just business.

In boxing, as in so many other areas of life, you can hang together, or hang separately. Not only are the rival promoters and networks not ready for a peaceful settlement to end boxing’s splintered and anarchic state, but the boxing media is not ready, either.

Just as in the Middle East, the existence of a pretty good if unfinished plan for peace and normal relations will not matter much if the two sides are just not ready and willing to live in peace and have normal relations with one another.

In fact, at the rate boxing is going, it looks like there actually will be peace in the Middle East before there is a unified structure in boxing – assuming that boxing even survives that long.

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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