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Articles of 2006

Boxing’s Best Fighters Pound-for-Pound: the Dirty Dozen

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. reigns supreme as the acknowledged best fighter in the world of professional boxing. But during the last seven months a number of contests took place to change the dynamics of the pro game for all other elite fighters.

Losses by Erik Morales, Antonio Tarver, and Juan Manuel Marquez have caused many to rearrange their pound-for-pound listings. Near losses by Marco Antonio Barrera, Jermain Taylor, and James Toney have also made some pause. Then there was the failure of Mexico’s Jose Luis Castillo to make weight during a big third showdown with Diego Corrales that further shook up the standings.

The return of Oscar De La Hoya last May in his momentous victory over Ricardo Mayorga caused some to rethink his status. Should he choose to accept a challenge with Mayweather on May 2007, that could have major implications for boxing. The East Los Angeles fighter at one time was considered the best boxer pound-for-pound in the world but lost to Felix Trinidad in a bad decision in 1999. He never attained that ranking again as the best fighter in the world but was ranked by many in the top 20. Does he deserve to be there again despite an almost two-year absence?

Any pound-for-pound listing is subjective. There are no definite selections even at the top. But here is this writer’s selection for July 2006:

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (36-0, 24 KOs) – Born into boxing, Mayweather’s considerable boxing pedigree vaulted him to the top of the boxing world. With speed, cunning and defensive skills that supercede most opponents, the son of De La Hoya’s trainer desperately seeks a match with the Golden Boy. Though Mayweather captured the IBF welterweight title against Zab Judah, many consider that win to be against a junior welterweight. Not a true 147-pound fighter. If Mayweather fights De La Hoya he won’t be fighting a 5-7 tall southpaw with equal height. He’s hit the glass ceiling in my opinion.

2. Winky Wright (50-3-1, 25 KOs) – Wright’s ability to fight undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor on equal terms for 12 rounds certifies his remarkable ability. After beating Felix Trinidad a year ago, then struggling a bit with Australia’s Sam Soliman, the Florida-based southpaw boxer extraordinaire showed the world he could match Taylor’s raw strength and athletic ability with his honed boxing arsenal. Some felt Wright won the fight last month. A rematch seems inevitable.

3. Manny Pacquiao (42-3-2, 33 KOs) – After beating Mexico’s Oscar “Chololo” Larios this past weekend despite a lack of training, Pac-Man proved his mettle. Last January he knocked out longtime champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales. It was the Mexican’s first loss by knockout. Pac-Man avenged his earlier loss to the Tijuana boxer by shifting to another level. The left-handed power puncher is one of the best boxers in the world today. A third match with Morales awaits, or a second with Marco Antonio Barrera. Either way Pac-Man wins.

4. Bernard Hopkins (47-4-1, 32 KOs) – The Philadelphia boxer known as the Executioner was a 3-1 underdog against light heavyweight world champion Antonio Tarver. Hopkins proceeded to dominate the bigger man with a display of tactics and energy that proved he’s still one of the best fighters today. Now he’s retiring as one of the all-time greats. Pretty good for a 41-year-old. The question for EX,  is he a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee? This writer says yes.

5. Marco Antonio Barrera (62-4, 42 KOs) – For 18 years the Mexico City boxer has graced the ring with his ability to win by ring smarts or raw power. Barrera, 32, edged out a win over Rocky Juarez last May but took some licks he normally didn’t take in the past. It’s time for the Baby-Faced Assassin to call it a career before one of the young guns beat him to the draw. Barrera’s had a magnificent career and captured world titles as a junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight.

6. Jermain Taylor (25-0-1, 17 KOs) – Though he only earned a draw against Winky Wright last month, Taylor, 27, proved he’s one of the most naturally-gifted fighters in the world. He not only survived Wright, but also endured 24 total rounds with Bernard Hopkins who now has the light heavyweight crown. Taylor will get better every time. He’s a natural fighter who relies on strength, athletic ability and determination. Once he adds more skill and experience, he could be virtually unbeatable.

7. Diego Corrales (40-3, 33 KOs) – The tall and lanky lightweight was hours away from a third decisive match with Jose Luis Castillo in the ring, but ended up winning it on the scales. Chico has the power in either hand to move up one or two weight divisions. Corrales, 28, reminds some of Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns with his combination of speed and power. He’s also one of the good guys of the sport. Fans love the lightweight world champion.

8. James Toney (69-4-3, 43 KOs) – Lights Out Toney is scheduled to meet Samuel “Nigerian Nightmare” Peter in a heavyweight showdown on Sept. 2 in Los Angeles. The pair will be fighting for Toney’s IBA title and for a shot at the WBC belt. Toney remains the most skillful heavyweight fighter in the world. People forget he began as a middleweight and now plies his trade against opponents almost a foot taller. He’s one of the greats. Enjoy him while he’s still fighting.

9. Rafael Marquez (35-3, 31 KOs) – The Mexico City fighter is a precise boxer-puncher who knocks out opponents with science. Marquez, 31, is slowing down, but still maintains enough speed and power to win a tactical battle. A showdown with fellow Mexico City fighter Jhonny Gonzalez is in the works. But first he has a rematch next month with Silence Mabuza who he stopped in four rounds last November.

10. Joe Calzaghe (41-0, 31 KOs) – Because he’s held the little respected WBO super middleweight title, Calzaghe, 34, was given the same treatment. But then he bewildered and befuddled Jeff Lacy while taking away the IBF title last March. The pride of Wales is looking for a marquee opponent. Hopefully he fights someone in America. The super middleweight division is one of the richest in boxing. Mark my words.   

11. Oscar De La Hoya (38-4, 30 KOs) – Most boxing fans felt De La Hoya’s days were over, especially at junior middleweight. But he returned and completely annihilated the fearsome Ricardo Mayorga by knocking out a fighter known for being able to take a punch. De La Hoya still has the power and speed to battle with anyone. But will he return or retire? We’ll see. Millions of dollars are at stake for the boxing world. Once again the Golden Boy holds the keys.

12. Shane Mosley (42-4, 36 KOs) – When Pomona’s Sugar Shane Mosley signed to fight Fernando Vargas last February most questioned the ability of both fighters. What fans got was one of the most riveting bouts of the year by two boxers still capable of fighting at the elite level. If Mosley wins, he could face a number of great opponents including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Antonio Margarito or the winner between Arturo Gatti and Carlos Baldomir. Mosley, 34, still has plenty left in his legs.

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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