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Articles of 2006

Philly Heat At The New Alhambra

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The New Alhambra, Russell Peltz’s no-frills boxing venue, has little in common with the original Alhambra, a palatial and expansive Moorish fortress which sits atop a picturesque hill in Granada, Spain. South Philly’s Alhambra is a fortress of a very different kind. Set in a district of warehouses, this boxing warehouse boasts a corrugated metal ceiling and cinderblock walls. Folding metal chairs, packed close to accommodate the capacity crowd, surround the ring. And $4 beers are all the luxury offered to patrons. But on a sweltering Wednesday night, with near 100-degree temperatures and the hot overhead lights that accompany ESPN burning up the room, water was the drink of choice for the sweating crowd. Perhaps it was a show of empathy for the sixteen fighters who came to do battle in this Philadelphia fortress.

In the main event, broadcast on ESPN2’s Wednesday Night Fights, Rogers Mtagwa, 21-10-2 (16 KOs), defended his USBA featherweight belt against a game but overmatched Alvin Brown, 26-9 (12 KOs). Mtagwa emigrated from his native Tanzania in 2000, and seems to have found his true home in the City of Brotherly Love; his tough, aggressive style fits the mold of a Philadelphia fighter. Mtagwa came out strong, clearly not of the belief that Round 1 is for moving and feinting and gently feeling out an opponent. In Mtagwa’s playbook, Round 1, like all the other rounds, is for punching. Mtagwa fired his shots with conviction, short, compact shots behind a tight guard. He played defense for a few moments in the middle of the round, making Brown miss with head movement as abbreviated as his punches. No wasted movement from Mtagwa, who finished the round punching.

In Round 2, Mtagwa started to unleash his signature punch, a short overhand right to the head. Amid a full arsenal of punches, this clubbing right first hurt Brown, then put him down. Brown, game throughout the fight, got off the canvass, only to be felled a second time by Mtagwa’s right hand. When he got up this time, the timekeeper, known for precision but rarely for tenderness, nevertheless gave Brown comfort by sounding the 10-second warning. Brown survived, but, as Brown would later learn, survival is not a sure thing against the USBA champion, even with ten seconds left in a round.

Round 3 was not any easier for Brown, though he did stay on his feet. Mtagwa gave his 36-year-old opponent no rest, attacking him with a relentless array of short, crisp punches that continued to be punctuated by the clubbing right. The assault continued in Round 4, interrupted only briefly as Brown landed his own overhand rights. But Brown’s turn at punching was short-lived. Mtagwa continued to hit and to hurt his doomed opponent, ending matters in dramatic fashion. With less than ten seconds left in the round, Mtagwa landed a big overhand right to the head that deposited Brown in his own corner. Referee Steve Smoger, a throwback who has not attached himself to the latest fad of stopping fights too early, counted ten over the fallen fighter. Official time: 3:06 of the fourth.

The co-feature pitted puncher against boxer in an eight-round junior middleweight bout. Jose Medina, 13-7 (10 KOs), who has “Macho” sewed into his trunks, fought macho as he took on Clarence Taylor, 11-9-2 (5 KOs). But macho, without anything to complement it, rarely works in the sweet science. Medina stalked Taylor through the first round, looking to intimidate his taller, lankier opponent as he searched for an opening to land the big shot. He threw heavy punches, but he threw them rarely and he threw them too wide, setting a pattern for the seven rounds ahead. Taylor, tentative at first in the face of Medina’s heavy hands, started to find his rhythm in the second round. He threw crisp, straight punches, too light to hurt Medina but accurate enough to score. Medina, meanwhile, continued to miss with wild swings. In Round 3, Medina’s one-at-a-time swings were fittingly accompanied by exaggerated body movements as he dodged punches on defense, demonstrating in a new way his lack of a foundation in boxing fundamentals. Add to that his refusal to jab and his tendency to walk around the ring as if he were walking down the street, instead of maintaining his balance on feet spread apart at a proper distance, and you see the raw material on which Taylor, the boxer, was able to work.

Taylor, with only five knockouts in twenty-one fights coming into this bout, understood his strengths (and his weaknesses) and used them to good effect. Taylor threw straight punches and used movement and timing to do what a boxer should do, hit and not get hit in return. In Round 6, Medina, aware that the tide was against him, tried a new tactic, talking to his opponent (macho words, no doubt) to try to make Taylor fight. But Taylor prefers boxing to fighting, and he refused to be drawn in by Medina’s taunts. Taylor continued to fight smart, beating Medina with straight punches and no words. Taylor, in full control as the fight moved forward, dominated the final two rounds. He hurt Medina in round 7 with a volley of clean blows that went unanswered, and in Round 8 a Taylor left precipitated Medina’s fall to one knee. Taylor proved decisively that boxing is more than a contest of strength as he won a unanimous decision, 76-75, 79-71 and 78-72.

In the night’s opening bout, Carlos Aballe, 5-2 (3 KOs), upset local favorite Orlando Lewis. Lewis came into this fight with a record of 4-0, all four victories coming by way of early knockout. He made the mistake of believing that his knockout punch would again secure him a win. But he did nothing to set up the knockout, nothing to create an opening where a knockout punch could land. While Lewis waited, Aballe worked, and handed Lewis his first loss by scores of 39-36, 38-37 and 39-35.

Lightweights Ryan Belasco, 2-0, and Bobby Campbell, 1-2, spent most of their four rounds together holding instead of punching. The more aggressive Belasco won by scores of 39-37 twice and 40-36.

Cruiserweights Glenn Turner, 8-3-3 (2 KOs), and DeAndre McCole, 4-15-3, engaged in a sloppy 6-round affair. McCole’s cornermen demonstrated a healthy sense of irony by wearing shirts with “K.O. Security” inscribed across the back; their fighter has not scored a single knockout in his undistinguished 22-fight career. Turner, a Philadelphia native, had the crowd behind him, and scored the cleaner blows en route to a unanimous decision win, 58-56 on all scorecards.

Kaseem Wilson, 4-0-1 (2 KOs), and Wes Hobbs, now 4-1-1, junior middleweights, brought undefeated records and similar styles to their 4-round bout. These tall, quick southpaws spent most of the fight circling and jabbing at each other. Wilson showed slightly more power and aggression, earning a decision by scores of 40-36 twice and 39-37.

In a light heavyweight battle, Mike Eatmon, 9-6 (6 KOs), gave local favorite Chucky Cavallo, 10-0 (3 KOs), trouble in the first round, cutting Cavallo above the right eye. But Cavallo showed toughness in coming back to dominate the next five rounds, keeping Eatmon at a distance where the taller Cavallo could land straight right hands. All judges had Cavallo winning 59-54.

The final fight of the night was also the shortest. Welterweight Mike Jones of Philadelphia improved his record to 3-0 (3 KOs) with a first round knockout of Ron Glover, 1-2.

(Check out pics of Rogers Mtagwa vs. Alvin Brown in the TSS Photo Galleries)

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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