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Articles of 2006

Dis and That and Notes to You

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LAS VEGAS, July 13 – I blew off the Mosley-Vargas press conference yesterday and not simply because it interfered with my Bastille Day preparations. Sugar Shane and Fernando are two of my favorite characters, but frankly, I’m fed up with all the prefight hype crap.

I mean, it’s a big deal that James Toney threw a glass of water, glass included, at Samuel Peter’s manager the other day? Hell, before his thumping by Roy Jones Jr., Toney answered one of my questions by throwing a folding chair at me (no, I don’t remember the question). If there’s a press conference, chances are Toney is going to get into an altercation, even if it’s not about any of his fights.

So instead of telling you “he said, he said,” or reminiscing about the good old days of Muhammad Ali press conferences – he’d come in, dressed in suit and tie, and call his opponent names like “Big Ugly Bear” and “Rabbit” and “Washerwoman” and “Acorn” and “Peanut Head” and “Frankenstein” but how the hell can you feel nostalgic about “Uncle Tom?” – let me take the opportunity to ramble.

If Mosley is serious about not being able to make 147 pounds by the end of the year and thus delaying any considerations for a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing’s best will have nowhere to run but to Bob Arum for that promised $8 million for a fight with Antonio Margarito, the promoter’s greatest con job since Butterbean, Mia St. John, Evel Knievel’s Snake River jump and John Tate….I mean, say Mayweather’s people offered Arum and Margarito a couple of million to split up, where could they possibly come up with $8 million for their side?…Carlos Baldomir, even if he upsets Arturo Gatti (a good bet, I think, at plus $1.80), would mean two cents plain on pay-per-view….The biggest shock is still Winky Wright turning down $4 million to fight the limited, and for him, smaller Margarito.

So there’s Don King, mumbling something on Showtime about starting a heavyweight title tournament and Jim Grey nodding his head up and down in approval. When Don controlled the tournament, he didn’t’ make any unification fights. Now that he is in partners with Willie Sauerkraut on the dubious Mr. Valuev, he’s going to unify?….Shannon Briggs is one of the things wrong with boxing. A few “victories” over lamp posts and futons somehow qualifies him for a possible match against Wladimir Klitschko.

I seldom think Sugar Shane Mosley can lose, but the rematch with Fernando could be troublesome. John David Jackson, who helped devise the game plan for the Feb. 25 bout in which Mosley turned Vargas’s left eye into a gargoyle worthy of the Notre Dame (the one on the Ile de Cite, not South Bend), is no longer in the corner. Jack Mosley is back while John David prepares Allan Green, his latest client, for an ESPN2 bout in Tulsa in eight days against Anthony Bonsante. Jackson became available when Mosley, instead of getting someone to condition him for the Vargas rematch and bringing in John David after Jackson finished his work with Bernard Hopkins, decided for the family reunion.

Also, Vargas knows another loss and he’s finished as a big-time fighter. He’ll be pumped, even if he’s deluding himself into thinking he was winning the first fight….He’s also delusional if he thinks he can move to 160 and beat Jermain Taylor. Lou DaBully, who is tired of seeing Taylor against the best, is very open to having Vargas challenge his strong kid. At least it’s more fan-friendly than having Taylor face Sergio Mora….Nevada has decided to allow Gatorade or any other nutritional drink in the corners between rounds to help fighters recuperate. Next thing will be pipe and slippers and maybe some roasted marshmallows.

As good as Cory Spinks danced his way into the ring last Saturday night, I don’t think he’s a match for his father, Leon, on the floor. Dad could really move – he was also a great rope-jumper…..Sugar Ray Robinson saved his dancing for the Ed Sullivan Show….How could I leave out Oscar de la Hoya from my pound-for-pound ratings? I hereby sneak him in after Mosley and before Miguel Cotto, which puts the Golden Oldie at No. 19, not bad for a guy with one victory in more than two years or so.

A hundred years ago, I covered the football Giants for the New York Times and wrote about a high draft choice who didn’t make it that he was “fat, lazy and egotistical,” according to someone in the front office. The Times told me that “blind” quotes – not attributed – were not allowed to be pejorative, so I sneaked the line into the story thusly: “Fat, lazy and egotistical are of course not necessarily pejorative.” My editors laughed so hard at my self-description, they let it pass. I bring this up to tell you that James Toney is “fat, lazy and egotistical,” and maybe that’s why I love him, especially against Samuel Peter.

Hey, it was 107 or so degrees out there, why would I ever leave my air-conditioned home for a press conference? It wasn’t like Mike Tyson was going to be there, either to bite someone on the leg or, more likely, put his head on the dais and feign sleep….Lennox Lewis should become a role model for fighters. He’s apparently enjoying retirement with his family….How can HBO turn down the proposed O’Neil Bell-Chris Byrd cruiserweight title bout – a nice matchup shopping for backers – when it puts on Vivian Harris vs. Michael Arnoutis? Harris, when with Main Events, couldn’t get on HBO when he had a title; now, AFTER getting knocked out by the legendary Carlos Maussa, there he is. Maybe his new promoter, Gary Shaw, got the date because he didn’t sue when HBOxing Boss Greenberg met on the sly with the promoter’s then client, Winky Wright, and Richard Schaeffer of Golden Boy. Just a guess.

According to recommended new rules in Nevada, lightweights will be wearing same size gloves – ten-ouncers – as heavyweights. Previously, all weight classes below 154 used eight-ounce mittens. The idea behind the rule change is that the added padding will better protect boxers’ brains. It is the commission’s brains I’m worried about – the added fluff is likely to allow boxers to take more punches and thus have the gray matter crashing into the skull more often…. I’m beginning to suspect you can get dementia from SEEING too many punches….One of the reasons I like Oleg Maskaev is that early in his career, he confessed that several of his pro victories were really in amateur fights in the old Soviet Union – in front of his then management. Such honesty is rare in this business and, to be honest, though he may not deserve his title shot, he does indeed have a chance to beat Hasim Rahman again. Rahman is not the smartest fighter in the world. Even with his corner telling him to stay back from James Toney, he insisted on falling inside where the fat, lazy and egotistical genius could do his best work. That “draw” shouldn’t have been close and if Rahman has similar strategy lapses against Maskaev, he could go flying again.

Is everyone excited about Arturo Gatti possibly winning the welterweight title in another week?….Mosley-Vargas is a nice fight, but the outrageous pay-per-view price of $50 is only made palatable by having Juan Diaz on the undercard. The lightweight titleholder is  as much fun as a barrel of Gattis….Can’t wait to see what some of my old pals at maxboxing will say after “Fraud” exposes Margarito….Boy, have I got a match for Bob Arum: Butterbean and James Toney on July 4 at Coney Island in a hot-dog eating contest. Toney is such a big hot dog, he’d probably swallow that Japanese kid who wins every year at Nathan’s….The Constitution isn’t the only thing that George W. has weakened during his tenure. Since he became captain in chief, the United States has slipped in world boxing, tennis, soccer, basketball and even baseball, losing the WBC – which is a hell of a thing to name a “classic.” I think it’s due to Bush undermining of the moral fiber of this country. We need Pat Robertson or Jose Sulaiman in charge….I’d settle for Johnny Bos.

PENTHOUSE: Maybe it was the Soviet water, but like Maskaev, Roman Karmazin was refreshingly honest when asked whether he thought he beat Cory Spinks last Saturday in St. Louis, he replied, “In reality, he tricked me.” He correctly criticized the referee, Mark Nelson, for not allowing the infighting that favored Karmazin, then conceded “unfortunately, it did take me to the seventh round” to figure out the slippery southpaw. Good for him, and good, also for Spinks – though of course Cory didn’t deserve it. Oh, off TV I thought he won clearly despite tiring badly in the latter rounds, but he did not deserve the title shot….see below.

OUTHOUSE: Yeah, it’s shooting fish in a barrel, but it’s rotten fish and it’s difficult to resist jumping on the Intolerable Bad Fishsmell. Cory Spinks had not fought in 17 months, hadn’t won in longer and had never contended at 154 pounds….Mind you, I wouldn’t accuse the IBF of allowing him to cut the line just because Don King promotes him….Tomorrow’s another day. It’ll probably be 110 degrees here.

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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