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Articles of 2006

Toney XXL

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Nostradamus would have a gimme with James Toney.

It’s a medical problem: Knee-Jerk Zidane (a less pernicious strain of Duran-Tourette…sadly, incurable). But unlike ZZ, James only has flare-ups outside the ring. Canvas causes 47-minute remissions. For 23 hours, he’s on earthquake watch — a seismic event going someplace to happen.

The recent tremor was at the new Palm restaurant in Los Angeles: a presser for Toney’s WBC 12-round heavyweight eliminator on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING against Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter on Sept. 2, tabbed NO RISK, NO REWARD, at STAPLES Center, just across the street.

Note to Goossen Tutor: When you issue MEDIA ALERTS for Toney pressers — like Gallagher shows – encourage raincoats right below ‘for working media ONLY!’ Understandable, considering the gourmet luncheon.

Pressers are no-muss no-fuss: Get the information out. Above all, run smoothly; the pricey room’s only booked for so long. Sure, there’s supposed to be some salty quotes and face making for the morning editions (or nanoseconds later on the web) but nothing that changes the architecture of the building …a safe bet with Toney. He starts with irascible and brings new meaning to G Rated.

Plus, with his history, it’s a re-hash — just insert Peter’s name. And, if you’re under deadline, there’s file-footage of Toney presser explosions. There’s bound to be a 270-pounder; he flattens them for drill sparring at Wild Card… A little Photoshop…who’s to notice the difference? But, the temptation to see the happening live is too much.

After entrées that would make it criminal to write anything negative about the promotion, the media took seats in the front section of the banquet room, waiting for the curtain to go up. The principals, Samuel Peter, manager Ivaylo Gotzev and co-promoter Dino Duva took their places, with Dan Goossen, Toney’s promoter, at the podium, and reps from SHOWTIME and STAPLES Center in attendance. Only Toney was conspicuous by his absence – like the champ making the challenger wait.

Goossen, checking his watch and the door for any sign of Lights Out, soft-shoed, soliciting questions. One no-clue Teletubbie piped up with queries that were to reporting what Julie Louis-Dreyfus was to dancing on Seinfeld.

The Toney circus arrived not a second too soon.

James, in shades and a Guys-‘n’-Dolls butterscotch pinstripe, tricked-out with enough diamonds and platinum to warrant the presser at Ft. Knox, was the ringmaster at the center of the parade. Hip-hop “Pomp and Circumstance ” befitted his arrival. Let the games begin was in his swagger, impatience on his face — a contrail of aggression in his wake.

Team Toney, a Felliniesque-aggregate of family, sparring partners and acolytes (the only thing missing were the acrobats) filled the remainder of the five rows of folding chairs and clogged the doorway, raising the buzz to a GM assembly line. No one just over 5’9” makes a bigger entrance.

Samuel Peter, big as he is, in a pinstripe that would cover Dodger Stadium, was invisible. It was like sharing the screen with Steve McQueen. He was a spectator at this show.

“How’s it feel fighting in L.A., Dawg?” one of JT’s Detroit homies shouted out.

“L.A. gonna be Detroit for one night,” Toney beamed. “D Block in the house!”

The usual Alphonse ‘n’ Gaston ensued — each side praising the other for taking the fight. We’re not going to sink to the level of the others you’ve seen. Toney drummed on the table with his fingers.

When Peter mumbled in the cadence of South East Nigeria in response to how he’ll do against Toney, a reporter blurted out, “I don’t understand?” Toney crooked an eye, “He said he’s gonna beat me. Next question!” (Redd Foxx couldn’t have thrown it away better.) With every utterance, he strutted sitting down.

He doesn’t answer questions; he suffers them. It took more endurance to sit there than do 12 rounds.

The sniping picked up slowly, with Toney jabbing over Duva’s remarks — the needle sharper each time from both. Toney, shaking his head, sniggering – exasperated, “Talkin’ about me like he gonna run through me like Swiss cheese.” It was Groundhog Day for the 77th time. Caltech was warning a Magnitude 6.5. No chance of an implosion.

Then, in a coup of statesmanship, Duva put a ten-ton straw on the camel’s back.

With an eye to the box-office, after giving Toney faint praise for his skills; he called him dumb for taking the match. Russian roulette with live rounds. Warming to the task, Duva put some sinew in it the second time, leaning closer to Toney from the podium.

“You talk a lot for a guy that’s not getting in the ring, old man.  You sound like you want to fight me,” Toney spat.

From Goossen’s swivel-around and lynch’m sentiments from Tonyites, Duva realized he may have stepped over the line and tried to smooth things. Looking at the mother of James’s children – doing his best Rodney King, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’ Duva explained, “I didn’t mean you when I called James dumb…” Why isn’t he patching things up in Lebanon?

A shouting match between Toney, Duva and Gotzev escalated from predictable to out-of-control (which fits Toney better then “Lights Out”). Photogs scampered for angles. We were at DEFCON 3 – no Ali wink and nudge.

(The tip-off to a faux show: the guy that goes berserk is usually in sweats, not an ad for Jacob The Jeweler.)

Adding fuel to the fire, a front-runner with the Toney hoards called-out Duva to bet on his man. “Pick your poison!” Toney snapped.

He wanted at Duva and Gotzev, ripping off his jacket that cost more to tailor then most cars. (Hard to hide the chip on his shoulder.) He drew no distinction between Godzilla and milquetoast: a slight means being rendered limb-from-limb and ground to powder.

It took all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men to restrain him; he was bucking like a Brahman. Goossen’s eyes rolled, “Here we go again.” Toney went from zero-to-Vesuvius from the git-go, flinging a glass of water at Duva and Gotzev, spraying Goossen — acting as honest broker — and Peter, while he struggled to break free and disembowel the manager and promoter, knighted “Dumb and Dumber,” by Goossen.

With a wall of muscle shielding them, Duva and Gotzev, (now looking like an enraged flamenco dancer with his slicked black hair and knitted brow) berated Toney at blood-oath intensity. (Shades of Johnny Friendly taunting Terry Malloy in ON THE WATERFRONT.)  Their number three heavyweight contender — damp suit, not withstanding — didn’t stampede to their defense. This wasn’t his arena. “I do not do my fighting at a press conference,” he said. “I do my fighting in the ring.” (Succinct, if a little stilted, like his style.)

It may portend for the bout. We were in a no-man’s land – no rules. Though Peter can separate a man from his senses (and his head from his body) with either hand, if it wasn’t for his dam-busting power, he’d be one more lumbering brute drilled in a gym to box — a learned fighter, a manager’s hope to cash-in on heavyweight money, not a fast-twitch improviser like Toney.

On TV, the scuffle’s a giggle before the weather report. At Ground Zero, it’s a bar brawl — large bodies blurring by. The chaos is not the worry; it’s the collateral damage.

While Toney was being bulldogged away by his camp, kicking, cursing and frothing, Goossen, ever the trooper in the midst of shot and shell, kept rattling-off the attractive seating packages to the few that weren’t caught up in the tsunami carrying Toney out of the room and down the staircase past wide-eyed business-lunchers and out the front door.

On the way out, some spit-balled precautions for James’ next presser: maybe a Hannibal Lecter rig, or shackled like Sampson; but with his hair grown in maybe they tried and failed. No one asked. Toney has a Bobby Knight-affect on questioners.

The biggest opportunity missed — with all the yelling back and forth — is why Toney’s lead and counter rights — landed so flush – didn’t dent Rahman at all?  Is it as his critics insist: He shouldn’t be in with dreadnaughts?

Jim Hill, the CBS Sports TV anchor, still nimble as his NFL cornerback days, kept a mic in Toney’s face, dancing backwards down the stairs while The Bulls of Pamplona were thundering.

Out on the sidewalk, Toney, ringed by press poking microphones like banderoles, bellowed and paced with the hell he was going to visit on Duva and Gotzev when they came out. All of it unintelligible, as if scrunched by a tight headgear.

Toney was at home: center stage – the man, roiling and boiling for a fight, as large and animated as the two-story figure of Kobe Bryant plastered on the side of the Palm.

Fed up with waiting for Gotzev and Duva to exit, Toney’s claque left en mass like a swarm of killer bees, angrily buzzing.

The chickens eventually come home to roost. All of James’s excesses will one day come due. But for one night in September, before injury and age claim him, get a glimpse of old school, the doppelganger from Detroit – not the rampaging bully, but one helluva fighter. “Not no boxer, not a runner, not no track star.”

Within 20 feet under ring lights, he’s all about business…and what a businessman!

The five-time world champion may give up youth, every physical advantage and single-sock power, but Peter will be in against legends: Eddie Booker, Holman Williams, Charley Burley, and mostly, Archie Moore; Toney’s channeled them all.

With all Toney’s cunning, Peter may have the power to do what no one else has, but it won’t detract from what Toney’s accomplished, except for those who have the knife out for him for not looking like the Spartan ideal or a role model.

What Peter doesn’t know is: Toney has renewed incentive; if he wins, his crossover appeal is unlimited: Public Broadcasting is fighting the FCC’s ban on profanity.

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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