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Articles of 2006

Li’l But Bad Crashes Back Onto the Scene



LAS VEGAS, July 20 – There’s a major welterweight fight in two days and since none of the major welterweights are in it, maybe we can look past it into the past. In nine days, Stevie Johnston – old “Li’l But Bad” himself – returns to fight Vivian Harris with his wife’s words echoing in his ears: “It’s a good thing you’re not fighting Vivian Johnston because I’ll kick your butt.”

When you go face first through a windshield at 45 miles an hour, you don’t choose your ring opponents by name. You just feel lucky you’re alive, and after three years you feel even luckier to be back on the national stage, even if it’s in a place you can’t pronounce. Johnston is a substitute for a substitute on an HBO Boxing After Dark card from the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif., and his name – not his wife’s – conjures up the thought, “He’s STILL fighting?”

What’s in a name. Harris, the former WBA junior welterweight champion told me years ago, that Vivian was a common boy’s name in his native Guyana, although somewhat less so in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Vivian is a common name around the Johnston house in Denver. Mrs. Li’l But Bad is named Vivian.

She and the four kids are still in Denver because her husband wants to make a name for himself again in boxing. He used to be pretty good, you remember. The two-time former lightweight champion knocked out Sharmba Mitchell in 1994, two years before Harris turned pro. He was UPSET by Jose Luis Castillo in 2000 – lost on a split decision in what Ring magazine called the upset of the year and later in 2000 fought a draw with the erstwhile lightweight star.

Johnston may not be the same guy he was before his 2003 accident on a dark Colorado two-lane road where an ongoing truck swiped the car in which he was a passenger. He is still only 33 and has won four straight since returning last October, but not against “live” opposition.

His new manager, Jim Rider of Vero Beach, Fla., said Johnston was “better than ever.” In that case, Harris doesn’t have much of a chance, despite his six-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-5 southpaw. Johnston, counting four comeback victories over the usual inanimate objects since his return in October, is 38-3-1 with 17 knockouts. He was never a big puncher, but his quickness, work rate, combinations and overall skills enabled him to go into Paris and take a 135-pound world title from Jean-Baptiste Mendy in 1997 – eight months before Harris was to make his pro debut.

The landscape has changed a lot in the lighter divisions since then. Harris, who wasn’t on the radar back then, managed to win a 140-pound title, but was stopped by the light-hitting Carlos Maussa 13 months ago and has had only one subsequent fight on his “comeback.” He was to have met Mike Arnoutis in some kind of eliminator July 29, but the Greek suffered a cut eyelid in training and promoter Gary Shaw went through a couple of other choices before settling on Johnston, who dropped out of sight after losing a 2003 lightweight eliminator to Juan Lazcano. A few months later, while he was contemplating what went wrong, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“The seat belt didn’t hold up,” said Johnston from Vero Beach, where he has been living since his comeback began last October. It held up well enough to keep him alive, even if it did not improve his looks.

He woke up in the hospital. The driver of his car didn’t have insurance. He couldn’t collect any help from the truck driver, either. He never stopped. “He got away,” said Johnston, “it was a hit and run.”

So after 160 or so stitches and a couple of years to think things over, Johnston decided he’d better get back in the ring. He journeyed to Vero Beach on an invite to see trainer Buddy McGirt and met Rider there.

He was with McGirt for a while, but Rider has his own gym – and fighters like Prince Badi Amaju, who on the same BAD night meets Roy Jones Jr. atop a pay-per-view card in Boise, Idaho, as the former pound-for-pound leader goes as far off-Broadway as possible (Sir Laurence Olivier or Elvis never played Boise, even after they died, let alone while they were living).

“I think Stevie has trained every single day since he came to Florida,” said Rider. “He takes care of the wife and kids, says he’s just like the guys who went to Iraq, that he’s got something to do.”

The restored face has held up to months of sparring and the four victories. The only cut he has suffered in that time was beneath an eye due to a clash of heads.

“I don’t anticipate he’s going to lose a round,” said Rider, who said “ironically” he grew up in Denver before making his fortune in Scottsdale real estate and Florida.

Johnston, who was a staple of network TV, will be making only his third start on HBO. He beat Cesar Bazan to regain the world title he dropped to the Mexican on a split decision and also beat Angel Manfredy for the cable giant. He said he knew Harris was “tall and a good boxer, I’ve got to be on my A-game. It’s going to be a good fight.”

The junior welterweight division is in flux. Many of its recent stalwarts – Floyd Mayweather Jr., Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto – have moved up to welterweight or are about to (Cotto is already penciled in to meet Arturo Gatti, an almost prohibitive favorite over 147-pound champion Carlos Baldomir on Saturday in Atlantic City). Then there are lightweights, Castillo and perhaps Diego Corrales, who like Johnston are moving up to 140.

“It’s going to be loaded,” said Johnston. “It’s a new era.”

Apropos of nothing, Johnston turns 34 on Sept. 28 – which means he was born the very day I returned with my young bride to the United States from six years in Paris.

PENTHOUSE: The only major welterweight on HBO’s show Saturday night will be Sugar Shane Mosley on the taped delay of his convincing six-round knockout of Fernando Vargas. At 34, Mosley is back in peak form and never mind that Vargas was a perfect foil. The way Mosley moved to give Vargas angles, the snappy combinations he was able to get across, the way he could step to the side and then back in, were all reminders of just how good he once was. He may, in fact, be the best welterweight in the world, certainly the one with the greatest chance of knocking off Floyd Mayweather Jr. And he’d probably be at least a 2-1 favorite over Antonio Margarito….Let’s give Vargas a hand, too. Maybe it was the trouble making 154 pounds, but he looked shot. Proud warriors do not retire, at age 28, after such performances. I can hear it already, the Main Events chorus of wrong weight. Vargas will get a gimme at 160 and guess what? He can beat Javier Castellejo again to win a paperweight title. Castellejo just upset Felix Sturm for one of those phony belts….But Mosley was the one who really emerged as a major player again, especially if as he says he’ll have no trouble making 147 pounds….Mosley, and his boss/partner, Oscar de la Hoya, wouldn’t let Vargas get away with having Gatorade – or Nehi grape or Yoo-Hoo – to drink between rounds. But on the night the prodigal father returned to the corner, Mosley was allowed Jack (his father) and water.

OUTHOUSE: Something is rotten in the state of New Jersey. How does Arturo Gatti rate to be more than a 2-1 favorite over the “real,” if limited, welterweight champion, Carlos Baldomir? Maybe it’s that somehow Baldomir’s camp has incredibly allowed three New Jersey judges to be assigned to the Atlantic City fight. Gatti has been a Jersey resident for years and he is the King of Atlantic City….And something is not kosher in New York where Dmitry Salita, Lou DaBully’s not-so-great Jewish hope, is being allowed to fight a ten-round main event against a late sub, Shad Howard, who is coming off a first-round knockout loss May 19 in Albany (which, last I heard, was still part of New York State) in a six-rounder. That the New York State Athletic Commission is allowing this travesty is not surprising; these clowns allowed Miguel Cotto to get into a 16-foot ring against the elusive Paulie Malignaggi that had so much padding it was like moving in not-so-quicksand. The question is how come the Better Business Bureau hasn’t moved to stop this joke….Main Events hasn’t been doing all that well by its fighters. First, Calvin Brock is given Mission Impossible, trying to look good against the clutching Timor Ibragimov. Now Carl Moretti – one of my favorite matchmakers, by the way – gives Juan Diaz a farewell gift by digging deep in the Philippines to find Randy Suico, a junior lightweight who could accomplish an amazing feat – making the exciting lightweight titlist look boring on the Mosley-Vargas undercard. Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward of HBO were raving about Diaz’s “consistency.” After a while, “consistency” becomes repetitive….Can’t believe Floyd Mayweather Jr. connections are seriously considering Cory Spinks – and not Bob Arum’s $8 million for a fight with Antonio Margarito. Must be a negotiating ploy; it’s always good to look as if you have more alternatives than you really have.

FEARLESS FREDDIE: Issued under the banner of Sternburg Communications Inc., “Coming to your quotational rescue” is this offering allegedly from Jeff Lacy, one of Fred’s clients: “Maybe I should change my ring name from ‘Left Hook’ to the Magic Man since I’m the one who made Antonio (Magic Man) Tarver disappear.”

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



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, 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

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak



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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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia



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


Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


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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