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Articles of 2006

The Unhappy Finish Line of Roy Jones Jr.

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The saddest words of tongue and P.C., “He ain’t what he used to be.”

LAS VEGAS, July 28 – They can’t watch. They were too close to Roy Jones Jr. for too many years to look at him now, in Boise, Idaho, of all places, fighting Prince Badi Ajamu of all people, another sad ending and it’s not just age, say his former buddies and lawyers, Stan Levin and John Hornewer. Roy Jones Jr. was changing before he got athlete old.

“He stopped training, he stopped listening,” said Levin, who hasn’t spoken to Jones in two years though they both live in Pensacola, Fla. “Back in ’98 or ’99, I left him in 2000, I told him, ‘You’re not hearing me anymore.’ Every time I tried talking to him, he was acting like I was his enemy. He didn’t want to know the truth. I put 15, 16 years in with him. What it took for me to walk away from him, you have no idea.

“There was a time I’d rather watch him in the gym than in a fight, he was so brilliant, and to see what’s happening now, I just can’t watch it. I remember he used to put a harness on his head with weights attached and he’d work his neck muscles so he could better take a punch. He stopped doing that years ago. He stopped going to the gym.

“I remember when he was 14, Roy would’ve destroyed guys like Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. They wouldn’t have laid a glove on him. I can’t watch him fight now. He’s a shadow of what he used to be.”

“I still haven’t watched the third Tarver fight, I refuse,” said Hornewer, who also did legal work for Lennox Lewis. “I’m so proud of Lennox, he did what he did and got out on top. To see Roy like this, he’s so far off course. He doesn’t know how to get his old self back to dignify the ending.

“I know I’ll be peeking at the bottom of the screen at the crawl (as ESPN gives the sports news) hoping that there’s nothing terrible to report. The guy who worried about becoming another Gerald McClellan is fighting someone who lost to Rico Hoye and I’m afraid for him. I hope to god he wins, but I won’t buy the fight.”

Levin, who with his multimillionaire brother, Fred, took the hometown hero under their wings, said he doesn’t know what changed Jones. Maybe it was the “rappers” element the fighter started hanging with, Levin can’t be sure. Maybe it was Roy Jones Sr., whom the son regarded as not only as a trainer, but a tyrant.

“He’s got a lot of his dad in him, which is, ‘I’m right and the rest of the world is wrong.’ His father trained a lot of guys, and he would strip them of their personalities so he could build what he wanted.”

After years and years of estrangement, Jones brought his father back to his corner for his last fight, the third one with Tarver. At the time, both Hornewer and Levin thought it a good idea. Jones, though, has subsequent to the loss explained that his father’s presence was a hindrance, so much so that he may have subconsciously not wanted to win because he didn’t want to give his father any glory.

“I told Roy that it was good that at least he got back together with Big Roy,” said Hornewer. “He said, ‘It was good, but it was bad.’”

Hornewer, a frequent ringside photographer, had his credentials canceled by Jones for the first Tarver fight – the lawyer, who walked away from Jones years before, had begun doing legal work for Tarver. Hornewer thought Jones believed that up close, he’d be able to advise Tarver during the bout – and never mind that his opponent already had a trainer named Buddy McGirt.

Yet, he said if Jones had called him to be at ringside tomorrow night, “I’d have bought a plane ticket and flown out.

“He gave all the people who were with him the ride of their lives. He was the best fighter I ever saw. Remember, I wasn’t around for Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard, but I honestly think Roy was better than Leonard. He was so incredibly talented.”

“I loved that kid,” said Levin. “This man I don’t like at all. But I know underneath there is still a soft, caring kid.”

Levin, who suffers from all sorts of physical ailments, often wears a cervical collar in the style of many a genius. He remembers one day telling Roy that he was going to drop by the gym only to hear, “Not if you’re wearing that collar.”

Jones, whom I once called the “conscience of boxing” for his efforts on behalf of the injured Gerald McClellan and his work with Muhammad Ali for tolerance, raises pit bulls and fighting cocks. Levin said “that was a side of him I never understood, a side I shut out.”

He said Jones was “doing a lot of things he swore he’d never do. He told me if lost it, he was through, he wasn’t going to hang on. He’s going to get hurt, I’m afraid.

“If I had been in control of his career, I’d have had him retire after he won that heavyweight title (against John Ruiz in 2003), it would have been, adios, goodbye,” said Levin.

Hornewer said “Roy had a very special, exceptional style that depended on speed and reflexes. The big question back then was what about his chin and I’d answer I hope I never find out.

“Now this guy (Prince Badi Ajamu) has a chance, a guy who lost to Rico Hoye. It’s hard to watch him get beat by fighters who aren’t great fighters. Fifty percent of the old Roy would’ve beaten Glen Johnson.

“But then I never thought the people around him, like the Levins, would not be around. There are certain people who’ll tell you the truth. There’s no one around him now like that.”

“I wish,” said Levin, “there was some way of shaking him and saying, ‘Look at what you’re doing.’ But it’s not going to happen with the people around him now.”

Hornewer said he expected Jones to go out fast and try to overwhelm the Prince from Camden, N.J. But he acknowledged that opponents will be braver against the faded star, knowing that if they hang in with him, there’s always a chance they can hurt him later.

“It makes me feel bad about the sport, about Roy’s legacy,” said Hornewer.

His legacy has already been compromised by the Tarver left hand that knocked him cold in the second round of their second fight. Fights like tomorrow night’s don’t mean anything more than, say, Muhammad Ali’s finale against Trevor Berbick or Joe Frazier’s against Jumbo Cummings. History is very forgiving; punches to the brain, however, are not.

I remember that night outdoors at Caesars Palace when the pathetic ghost of Ali was battered by Larry Holmes. I had just finished my New York Times story and was closing my computer before rushing inside to the post-fight press conference. I had no doubt that Holmes would win; in fact, I was silently hoping he would, knowing that his legacy would not have been able to withstand a loss to the faded Ali, who on the other hand had already accomplished so much as to forever remain a ring immortal.

Even so, as I replayed the embarrassing performance by Ali, tears ran down my cheeks. The unhappy ending is a common occurrence in boxing, I’m afraid.

PENTHOUSE: OLN, for putting boxing on, and hopefully Bob Arum will give the cable channel – which will change its name to Versus in September – better matchups than Kelly Pavlik and old Bronco McKart. Arum will. His next show features a title defense by Brian Viloria….Nice twin bill tomorrow night on HBO BAD – though I’ll probably kick myself later, I plan to buy the Roy Jones farce and no, not for Kenny Keene – but Vivian Harris vs. Stevie Johnston is intriguing and so is the welterweight semi between Joshua Clottey, whose only loss was by disputed stoppage to Carlos Baldomir, and Richard Gutierrez.

OUTHOUSE: Yes, I’m glad I’ll be able to get my first glimpse of Sultan Ibramigov tonight on ESPN, and yes filling up so many channels 24 hours a day with sports is taxing. But poker was bad enough. Now we have darts and, coming soon, dominos. Can’t wait for potsy, parchesi and Monopoly.

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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