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Articles of 2006

Mosley Splatters Vargas: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

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LAS VEGAS– You could tell how good a job Shane Mosley was doing against Fernando Vargas when the crowd of 9,722, which seemed overwhelmingly behind Vargas as the fighters entered less than ten minutes before, started a vigorous chant for Mosley.

To the victor go the spoils and the spoiled.

Once again, it was a great fight night with plenty of Vegas visuals: special effects, special flesh, and flesh with special effects.

The contest’s appeal meant a widespread influx to the MGM neon Greenland. Many family photos were taken in front of the glitzy ring in the casino lobby. John Travolta and Eva Longoria enhanced the star power. Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson sat calmly in the same space they’d ignited during epic encounters.  

It was a great night, if not a great fight.

A solid undercard got the audience primed but as in the first Mosley-Vargas card, there was a fearful moment from a devastating duke. For too many tense moments after Daniel Ponce De Leon creamed Sod Looknongyangtoy, it looked like Sod was seriously injured. The crowd held their collective breath, then broke into the loudest, most sincere cheers of the prelims when the Thai fighter appeared relatively unscathed. Let’s hope future medical tests hold that assessment.

Once again, the line between thrilling and fateful was indistinct. It was a pure rush one way or the other.

The most amazing scene came in a well received main event as Vargas somehow got up from the sixth and final round knockdown blast. You could see a twinkling aura as Vargas’s spirit willed his impulse-detached body up. The MGM Grand Garden became one of those weird, almost time frozen magnifications of supremely stirring seconds.

Vargas made it up with one foot over the cliff of consciousness. Referee Kenny Bayless faced a split-second decision and let Vargas, who had gone from spaghetti to standing at attention, continue.

It looked correct for Bayless to allow Vargas to go out on his shield. Three more flashing overhand conks and it was over.

Many in the assembled swarm trudged away before the official time was announced, in a wake of torn Vargas betting stubs. Most of the action may have been on Oxnard’s favorite, but there were no audible protests at the stoppage, quite a rarity here.

The betting windows were vacant, where previously packed with “Ferocious” gear sweatsuits, waiting to wager.

The only real questions were about how far Mosley could go on, and whether Vargas should go on.

Even after the debacle, dozens of loyal fans crowded the lower seats to wave and offer encouragement. Vargas acknowledged their cheers with a weary smile. Fernando seems like a natural to do something in his community like dropout prevention or voter registration. The ferocious one looks like a positive political animal.

After the fight, Vargas and his team said there would be no excuses. Then, in another refreshing rarity, they didn’t mention any. Bravo, sirs.

The media center held a quiet buzz of appreciation when Vargas took the dais, with the understanding it could be his last go-round. Vargas was allowed to have his say without intrusion.

There was really nothing more to be said about the trouncing. No hard details were dissected or demanded. Vargas mused on his wedding and diet plans.

“I feel great,” said Vargas from behind designer shades. “I’ve only got one other ‘date,’ and that’s August fifth with [my fiancée] the Queen. She put up with me for ten years, now she’s got to for the rest of our lives because I don’t believe in divorce. She’s the only one I’m going to get down with for a while.

“This is the last time you’ll see me at this weight, because I’m a Mexican and I love to eat. Can I have some food? I told the Queen enjoy it now because it’s gone a week or two after the fight. She told me it was a tease.”

Each guy earned millions enough to kick back a while, whether that means retirement or reward.

Mosley said he wouldn’t be appearing again on the current calendar. That means at least six months before his next fight, unless an affair with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. comes to fruition faster than presently anticipated.

“I’ll fight next year (2007),” indicated Mosley. “Possibly, I guess somewhere out there is Mayweather. Ricky Hatton, that’s about it.”

If Mosley wanted to go out on top with one broad stroke, to probably leapfrog Winky Wright, and maybe even Felix Trinidad in historical ranking, he’d follow the Bernard Hopkins route of upward mobility and challenge Jermain Taylor at 160. If Mosley put on ten pounds of muscle without losing any speed, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to outwork Taylor inside, or make the bigger man pay for charging.

In the media center and sports book, wannabe, never-were types squawked about how Vargas was washed up. Quite the opposite is true. Vargas has grown as a citizen and role model. If you ever saw some of the goons he used to associate with, you understand how vital that can be.

Vargas has fought through enough physical ailments to deserve a break. He can have one good farewell fight, with high probability for victory, but after that he should look other directions.

Back in December of 2003 Vargas complicated back problems in a Tucson bout against Tony Marshall at an outdoor arena on a voodoo night in the desert where the temperature dropped to the 30s as thick steam rose off the fighters. The crowd got some therapy that night, but not Vargas’s back.

Since coming back from a 15-month layoff, including time for a steroid suspension, Vargas has never really looked the same.

“I didn’t want to disappoint anybody,” Vargas explained back then. It seems like another lifetime ago since Vargas the elder didn’t always do the right thing. The only disappointment would be if Vargas lets himself get reduced to gutty fodder.

After the fight, an unmarked Mosley arrived in an immaculate chalk suit with plenty of options. A well-decked out Antonio Margarito hung around with visible fans and media interest, but didn’t really seem to solidify his cause.

“Vargas gave his heart and soul,” said Mosley as Vargas came up to embrace him. “It wasn’t as easy to catch him with the right hand this time, but he wasn’t expecting the left. I had great sparring and was saying throughout the promotion I’d get the stoppage. It felt good to have my father [back] in my corner.”

It was announced that Winky Wright’s promotional entity would join forces with Golden Boy promotions. Beneath a massive fight banner, Oscar de la Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Marco Antonio Barrera, Mosley, and Wright made quite an interesting study in corporate life.

“This is a big step for Winky Promotions,” said Wright, “When I first opened up, a lot of people thought it was gonna be a joke, a fly by night company. But we do our work. We’re trying to take over the boxing game and do it the right way.

“Like Oscar says, get all these fighters and let them make all they can make while they can. When it’s over, give them another outlet. It’s my pleasure to join and become one of the biggest promotional companies in the world.”

“Let’s look at it like a takeover,” said Hopkins, half in jest. “I’m in my forties and Oscar, Shane, Marco and Winky are in their thirties. So we are aging as fighters, but we young as promoters. Ain’t they (older promotional competitors ala Don King and Bob Arum) in trouble?”

If every show goes as well overall as Mosley-Vargas II, it will be no problem for the fans, unless of course sometimes you bet more than you should from the heart.

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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