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Articles of 2006

Singwancha Wins Fair and Square

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MCC Hall, The Mall Bangkapi, Bangkok, Thailand
Referee: Malcolm Bulner (Australia)
Television: Channel 7 Thailand
Promoter: Naris Singwancha Promotions

July 18, 2006

It was a rarity; a Filipino, Juanito Rubillar, who could truly fight, was coming to Thailand to face ex-champion Wandee Singwancha. What made it even rarer was the fight was for a title, albeit one of those “extra” titles known as an interim title. Rarely do I get excited about a fight which takes place inside of Thailand, but I definitely looked forward to this one.

Juanito Rubillar came with credentials more impressive than usual for a Filipino fighter visiting Thailand. He’d been in with Manny Pacquiao conqueror Medgoen Singsurat (L by KO9), flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (L by KO4, L by D10) and with everybody’s favorite little man, Jorge Arce (L by UD12 – 2x). He arguably beat Arce in their rematch – in other words, he wasn’t just a punching bag, he could actually fight. In fact, so much so, I picked him to win.

Since being knocked out twice in 2003 by current IBF Flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan, Wandee Singwancha had been quietly fighting the usual Filipino suspects; Lee Escobido (UD6), Jojo Bardon (UD6), Jun Arlos (D12), Jun De Asis (UD6), as well as a Chinese fighter, Li Yao Bo (UD6), who was making his pro debut. He also fought and defeated Juanito’s big brother, Ernesto Rubillar (TKO8), giving little brother another reason to win – revenge.

The first round was a feeling out round with much of it being used to prod for weaknesses. Both fighters used pawing jabs to calculate their distance and tentatively followed up with their combinations. Singwancha moved to his left, outside of the southpaw Rubillar’s right jab, a tactic he would use throughout the bout. There was little action but towards the end of the round, the Thai landed a nice left hook to the body followed by a straight right to the pit of the stomach.

Singwancha scored with two lead rights to the head of Rubillar during the first minute of round two, but received a thumping overhand left in response. Both fighters were beginning to let go of their hands but Rubillar was missing more than he was landing. The Thai moved in and out effectively, sliding left and using the lead right effectively. Just before the end of the second round, he bounced a right off the forehead of Rubillar but the Filipino countered with a left at the bell. The fight was on.

Rubillar picked up the pace in the third round, landing combinations to the body and providing nothing for the slightly bemused Singwancha to hit. The Thai knew what was at stake though and stepped up his own game, capturing rounds four, five and six. All through the fight Singwancha used the lead and counter right effectively and this, coupled with his superior foot speed and clockwise movement, ultimately proved to make the difference in the outcome.

The fight moved in to the phone booth in rounds seven, eight and nine with the two continually jockeyed for positioning. Rubillar scored with the better shots when toe-to-toe but Singwancha launched his own body attack, turning the tide in the seesaw battle. Singwancha scored with a quick three punch combination before scoring again with the lead right to close out the round.

The final portion of the fight remained close with Rubillar desperately trying to catch Singwancha, who was boxing smartly. Rubillar was more active in the final three rounds but was missing much of what he threw at the Thai. The tit-for-tat exchanges on the inside favored neither of the fighters but on the outside, the movement of Singwancha made it difficult for Rubillar to land any clean blows.

Rubillar threw his arms up at the end of the fight, thinking he was victorious, but none of the judges shared his feeling – winner and new WBC interim light flyweight champion via unanimous decision – Wandee Singwancha.

Judges scores: Brad Vocale (AU) 117-111, Takeaki Kanaya (JP) 117-113, Jae-Bong Kim (KOR) 117-113

The Sweet Science scored it 117-113 (two rounds even).

A Sidebar to Singwancha-Rubillar

Before the fight, Filipino fans around the world expressed doubt Juanito Rubillar could win a decision in Thailand. The feeling was that anything less than a KO would result in a hometown decision for Singwancha. As a fan, it’s easy to get carried away with nationalistic feelings. Rubillar lost the bout by not doing enough in the first half of the fight and you just can’t do that when fighting on the road. He didn’t come on strong enough until the later rounds (7th); by then it was too late. The fight was close and scored quite fairly. The decision had nothing to do with the fight being in Thailand or Rubillar getting ripped off. He got defeated in a close, competitive fight, plain and simple – no additional help from the judges necessary.

BTW – I picked Rubillar to win. I personally don’t care where anyone’s from – I just tell it like I see it. All I care about is whether or not I get to see a good fight!

It’s no surprise the vast majority of Thai fighters are over-hyped and can’t fight nearly as well as their records indicate. As I’ve said before, when you always know who’s going to win, it takes the fun out of the sport. It’s catching up to the Thais as more and more of their fighters are getting beat on a regular basis as soon as the fight outside of Asia.

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam may very well be the best flyweight in boxing but the plain truth is he’s piled up wins over fighters who are at best journeymen and don’t belong in the top twenty-five, much less the top ten. Most boxing fans in Thailand haven’t a clue whether an opponent is worthy or not and since Wonjongkam isn’t fighting in the US, the promoters and sponsor (Red Bull) don’t care what anyone outside of Thailand thinks. The Thais, with the help of El Presidente Jose Sulaiman, will hang on to the championship as long as humanly possible, even if it means breaking its own rules (Wonjongkam hasn’t faced a mandatory in almost three years).

In the case of Rubillar, while he lost a close fight, he shouldn’t have been fighting for an interim title in the first place. He was due a title shot at Brian Viloria and got screwed. An interim title was originally intended to be used when a champion was unable to fight for a period of up to one year. Viloria is fighting in the first week of August, just three weeks after Rubillar’s fight.

Absolutely unbelievable.

Quick Notes

Talks are in the works for a fight between the WBA’s #1 ranked lightweight, Prawet Singwancha, and WBA lightweight champion Juan Diaz for late this year, early next year. The fight would be in the U.S., probably in Las Vegas, and so far no further details have been released other than negotiations are proceeding and the fight is a possibility. Prawet Singwancha has yet to defeat a top-ten fighter and is yet another tale of a fighter being ranked far higher than he should be.

Another fighter from the Singmanasak camp, former super featherweight champion Sirimongkol Singwancha, is supposedly slated to fight Jose Armando Santa Cruz for the WBC’s version of the lightweight title in Croatia during the WBC’s annual convention. Cruz is scheduled to face David Diaz but the reality is there is very little chance of the fight actually coming off. The Thai press has also been letting it be known they want Sirimongkol Singwancha to fight Manny Pacquiao.

Why? I have no idea…I don’t make the news, I just write about it.

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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