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Articles of 2006

ShoBox Card Shows Off Boxing Offspring

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It seemed like a good idea on paper.

Collect the sons and a cousin of standout pugilists from yesteryear, and televise the offspring so fight fans can asses how far the apples have dropped from the proverbial tree. Showtime thought so, anyway; the network devoted two and a half hours of time to a Saturday night special ShoBox: The New Generation 'The Sons Also Rise' card from Manistee, Michigan.

So what did we learn about the fruit of the loins of fighting lions Buddy McGirt, Thomas Hearns, Aaron Pryor and Tim Witherspoon? To be blunt, the kids got a bit more of mom's blood than dad's than each might like, but each has enough of pop's genes to make them at the least a serviceable pro, and possibly, more than that. Well, one of them should perhaps quit while he's behind, I have to say with all due respect, but more on that later…

Chazz Witherspoon, who is the second cousin of 80s-90s marquee heavyweight “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon, left viewers with the impression that of the assembled offspring featured, he may be the one to keep closest watch on. He showed some nice skills against underweight 32-year-old Mike Alexander from Columbus, Ohio, who came to Michigan with Buster Douglas' former manager/trainer John Johnson.

'Spoon, who goes by the nickname “The Gentleman,” outweighed Alexander, 232 to 205, but he didn't play that card till midway through the scheduled ten.

Alexander didn't come to lay down for Witherspoon, and in the first half of the fight surprised Witherspoon with some nifty combos, a sneaky-quick right hand and smart movement. One had to wonder if Alexander could keep up his busy footwork for the duration, and as it turned out, he could not.

A 2004 National Golden Gloves champion and 2004 Olympic alternate, Witherspoon had to contend with a game and durable opponent who switched from righty to lefty in the fourth round.

ShoBox analyst Steve Farhood quite rightly pointed out Witherspoon's lack of power in the fifth, but he did get off a scoring rip to the body that showed he is capable of being more than just a volume puncher when he puts his mind to it.

Tim's second cousin, who lives in Philly, does not possess blazing-fast hands, it must be said. But he may make up for that down the line with his stamina and by keeping busy.

Alexander looked nearly out of it sitting on the stool after the sixth and my heart ached for the dude when Johnson told him there were four rounds to go.

In the seventh, Alexander shot a straight left that scored strongly, signaling that he wouldn't go the accordion route, and fold.

Farhood described Witherspoon as “workmanlike” and talked about a lack of handspeed, but to counter that criticism, he showed a solid closer's instinct in the tenth round, when he was still busy and looking to do damage in the last minute.

Witherspoon (13-0, 7 KOs) impressed the judges, 100-90, 98-92, 96-94. Postfight, he told Al Bernstein that his “defense needs work” and that he “needs to warm up better.” He's 24, and with an improved nutritional program stripping off some baby fat, and some work on investing more in his power shots by bending his legs, Witherspoon will be on my 'One To Watch late 2007' list.

Alexander, who earned every cent the IRS lets him keep, dropped to 11-1.

In the second televised battle, James McGirt Jr. faced off with Stephan Pryor in a battle of sons of former world champions. Buddy's son, age 23, showed his amateur pedigree as he raised his record to 12-0-1 NC over the under inspired Pryor, a 31-year-old from Cincinnati who dropped to 10-2.

Pryor (160 1/2) started out with a lazy jab, which made McGirt's so-so tablesetter look positively deadly in comparison. The first was a feeling-out special but McGirt (163 pounds) picked it up in the second. Showing a smooth, schooled style in the ring, he kept a respectful distance as he piled up points and sized up Pryor's methods.

Pryor, whose father Aaron didn't always exhibit classic, balletic grace and footwork as he plied his trade, had issues with his movement as well. But he didn't make up for it with feverish output. He went southpaw in the fourth, and that served only to give McGirt a different angle to peck away at.

In the fifth, a viewer had to like McGirt's right hand rip to the body after he tossed a right to Pryor's head.

Pryor actually landed a leaping right lead in the sixth, his best punch of the night, but it didn't phase McGirt in the least.

All told, Stephan Pryor's skills as a boxer lie somewhere in between Aaron Pryor in his prime and Richard Pryor today.

I'm not interested in making snarky cracks for the sake of a cheap giggle, but Pryor called out Ronald Hearns postbout and also complained that his left shoulder was hurting him in the bout because he had stopped doing pushups. Er, OK…

The judges saw McGirt as the clear victor in the eight rounder, 79-73 times three.

Buddy's boy is polished, and relaxed as he does his thing, and his upside cannot be dismissed. I'd like to see him set down on punches more often and cultivate a nasty streak, but all in all, he's a prospect.

Ronald Hearns, 27, kicked off the broadcast. He was matched with a rudimentary fighter from Phoenix, Mexican-born Hector Hernandez, in a middleweight eight.

Hearns (158 pounds), who audaciously goes by the nickname “The Motor City Cobra,” showed flashes of dad's chops. For one thing, he's long and lean, like dad. But he's 27, so he darn well better get cooking if he wants to make meaningful noise in the middleweight division.

The first round of this one got off to a goofy start, when Hearns hit Hernandez (160 on the dot) with a left hook on the break. Hernandez was pissed off and mouthed off to the ref, who instead of giving him time to recover his senses, started a mandatory eight-count.

Hearns has some of the basics to master, that's obvious.

He drops his hands too much, doesn't slip punches all that well and isn't too accurate with his deliveries. But he has some pop, as he showed in the fifth, with a left hook to body/right cross combo that sent Hernandez to the deck. He rose at 8 3/4.

Then, Hearns got back to work, with a left hook to the head that further dazed Hernandez, and again sent him to the floor. He got up at 8 1/2, and the ref, John O'Brien, gave him a long look, like your mom used to when you slipped home past curfew stinking of Bud Light and Tic-Tacs.

Hernandez's “brave” corner sent him back out for the sixth, but Hearns was having none of it. He flurried Hernandez to the head and O'Brien waved the fight over at 12 seconds of the sixth.

Hitman Hearns talked to Bernstein afterwards and gave his take on his son's performance. “I had to calm him, get him to use his defense and tell him defense is as important as offense,” the elder Hearns said. “Once he uses them both together he's going to be stronger.”

As you may heave heard, Jorge Paez Jr. was supposed to give us a compare and contrast peak on this Showtime broadcast, but the ever-diligent professionals heading up Homeland Security denied his entry into the US from Mexico. Perhaps, they surmised Al Qaeda was planning a cunning “use a suicide bomber disguised as a pro boxer” plan, and that's why Paez, whose face and identity could be ascertained by a freaking Google image search, was refused entry and scratched from the card.

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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