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Articles of 2006

Italy Goes Back On Top



During my trips to New York, Florida and Las Vegas, I noticed that old-time Italian champions are still remembered by the boxing community. I’m not only talking about such legends as Nino Benvenuti and Sandro Mazzinghi, but also about some champions that were never too much appreciated in my country. Gianfranco Rosi, for instance, was always criticized by the press. Some of the most famous journalists wrote that Rosi wasn’t worth a dime and that he wouldn’t have been national champion in the 1960s. Then, I go to Top Rank Gym in Sin City and I see on the wall the poster of GianfrancoRosi vs. Lupe Aquino. I ask famed trained Jesse Reid and he tells me that Rosi was a great fighter, very strong, well conditioned, difficult to hit and impossible to look good against. Rosi could also punch, as he proved knocking down Reid’s kid Darrin Van Horn and outclassing him twice. Maybe it is true that nobody can be a prophet in his own land.

Seventeen years after Rosi’s big win over Darrin van Horn for the IBF light middleweight title, the situation has not changed; there are still too many people who write bad things about Italian fighters. According to these so-called experts, there are no good boxers in my country and the industry is on the verge of disaster. An American saying that I like a lot is: Before you talk, you better have something to back it up! In this case, the critics have nothing to back up their claims. The reality is just the opposite of what they say.

In the European Boxing Union’s rankings, there are 25 Italians. In the world rankings of the four major sanctioning organizations you will find 8 Italians. We have one interim world champion and two legitimate European champions: Silvio Branco won the interim WBA light heavyweight title last July 27 in Milan, Andrea Sarritzu became European flyweight champion on the same day and location, Simone Maluddrottu is the European bantamweight champion and the only Italian rated in all the major top-ten: WBC #2, WBA #8, IBF #5 and WBO #6. In no other individual sport has Italy so many top-rated athletes.

As for boxing being on the verge of failure, the show held in Milan on July 27 proved that boxing is alive and well. The press-agent hired for the event just released a list of 70 articles published by local and national newspapers. The Night of 3 Crowns was  broadcast live on pay-per-view by Mediaset Premium at the cost of 6 Euros ($ 7,62). Silvio Branco vs. Manny Siaca was broadcast live and for free by national television Italia 1. The official numbers released by Italia 1 reveals there were 1,004,000 viewers at midnight and the network considers it a great result. As a matter of fact, Italia 1 opened the doors for another show next October 8 when the Italian soccer championship will stop.

That’s the problem: every sport is compared to soccer and it shouldn’t be. Soccer in Italy is a national obsession, while the other sports are just passtimes. The final of the World Cup between Italy and France, drew a monster rating of 25,666,000 people (85% share of all tv sets in the country) and you must add the millions of Italians who saw the game in the mega-screens put on the main squares of every city.

What really counts is that boxing is successful compared to most of the other sports. Last July 27, at famed Velodromo Vigorelli, about 4,000 fans showed up and you must consider that the city was half-empty because many people had already left for their summer vacation. Only basketball and volleyball draw regularly more than 4,000 paying customers. Rugby can have 20,000 people for the national team against the All-Blacks, but most of the Italian championship games are played in front of 1,000 fans. Radio is not interested in interviewing rugby champions, but they did interview Silvio Branco and Michele Piccirillo before their July 27 fights.

The only thing that boxing needs is space in the media… when the soccer season is on. It makes no sense interviewing a boxing legend in May and publishing it in July… because there’s no soccer going on. If boxing could have a weekly page in the major newspapers, the champions would become more popular and the arenas would be crowded every time. There would also be some champions recognized nationally. Today, it doesn’t happen: Silvio Branco is celebrated in Civitavecchia and booed in Milan. It’s true that most people in the Lombardia region hate the ones from the Lazio region (especially the Romans who are considered a bunch of lazy guys who can never work well or be trusted), but when Francesco Totti scored a goal during the World Cup he had the whole nation behind him. And Totti is from Rome; he became nationally acclaimed because he was always in the newspapers. By the way, even soccer cannot compete with boxing on an individual basis. Our national team won World Cup, our clubs perform well in international tournaments, but our players were not considered good enough to win the Golden Ball (which is the biggest prize for European players) in recent years. On the other hand, our boxers rule the old-continent. In the super lightweight division, the European title is vacant and the co-challengers are Gianluca Branco and Giuseppe Lauri. Besides, Giorgio Marinelli is rated n.6 and Michele Di Rocco n.10. If this is not enough to convince the critics about the high-level of Italian boxers, nothing will.

The European Boxing Union rates boxers in 14 division, since it doesn’t recognize minimumweight, mini flyweight, and super flyweight. The European champions and their challengers are rated above the top-ten.

Andrea Sarritzu – European Champion since July 27. 
Giuseppe Laganà – N.5

Simone Maluddrottu – European Champion

Alberto Servidei – Challenger to European Champion Cyril Thomas
Domenico Urbano – N.3

Super Featherweight
Alessandro Di Meco – N.7

Stefano Zoff – N.3

Super Lightweight 
Gianluca Branco – Co-challenger for the vacant European title.
Giuseppe Lauri – Co-challenger for the vacant European title 
Giorgio Marinelli – N.6
Michele Di Rocco – N.10

Antonio Lauri – N.4
Michele Orlando – N.8
Cristian De Martinis – N.9

Super Welterweight
Michele Piccirillo – European champion
Luca Messi – N.6
Tobia Loriga – N.9

Lorenzo Di Giacomo – N.3

Super Middleweight
Cristian Sanavia – Challenger to European champion Mger Mkrtchyan

Light Heavyweight
Silvio Branco – Challenger to European champion Stipe Drews
Antonio Brancalion – N.6

Vincenzo Cantatore – Challenger to European champion David Haye
Pietro Aurino – N.2
Giacobbe Fragomeni – N.8

Paolo Vidoz – He was European champion until July 15

I have considered only the rankings of the four major sanctioning bodies.

Andrea Sarritzu – N.4 WBO

Simone Maluddrottu – N.2 WBC, n.8 WBA,  n.5 IBF and n.6 WBO

Super Welterweight
Michele Piccirillo – N.6 WBC and WBO

Super Middleweight
Cristian Sanavia – N.5 WBC

Light Heavyweight
Silvio Branco – WBA interim champion, n.5 IBF and n.4 WBO
Pietro Aurino – N.4 WBA

Pietro Aurino – N.2 WBC and n.3 WBO
Giacobbe Fragomeni – N.5 WBC and WBO
Vincenzo Cantatore – N.4 WBO

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

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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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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