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Articles of 2006

The Dutch Scene

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Italy and Great Britain produced a long list of boxers who won the world title and defended it abroad. Some of them were good enough to become champions in the United States where they are still remembered. France, Germany and Denmark never had many top fighters, but the best of them were very good. A few of them became legendary. Just think about Marcel Cerdan and Max Schmeling. The European country with very little tradition in boxing is Holland. Can you name a Dutch champion? Probably not.

At Gleason’s Gym, they remember Don Diego Poeder because he was trained by Hector Roca when he won the WBU cruiserweight title with a TKO 10 over Terry Ray on June 15, 1997 at Foxwoods. But, does the general public know anything about Poeder? Just for the record, he was active from 1994 to 1999. He came back in 2004 and has fought five times since then, losing his last two bouts. His record is 24 wins (18 KOs) and 4 losses.

In the most recent European Boxing Union rankings, you won’t find a Dutchman in the top-10 of any division. There are only two guys who could make it, but won’t for different reasons. Richel Hersisia is number 16 among heavyweights, and the EBU ranks 21 guys in that division. Hersisia looked good at the beginning of his career, winning his share of minor titles, but he was KOed in four rounds by Audley Harrison (on March 20, 2004 in London) and that says it all. Today, his record stands at 27-1 with 21 KOs.

Raymond Joval cannot be included in EBU rankings because he is the IBO middleweight champion. If he relinquished the IBO belt, Joval would be ranked number 1 or 2 and get a shot at European champion Amin Asikainen, because Lorenzo Di Giacomo is ranked number 3 and he is not better than Joval. In 11 years as a professional, Joval built a record of 35 wins (16 KOs) and 4 losses. On December 23, 1995 he won the Benelux middleweight title (Benelux stands for Belgium, Nederland and Luxembourg) and started building his way up in the rankings.

His first big win happened on June 26, 1999 in Italy: he defeated Agostino Cardamone (TKO 9) for the WBU middleweight title. That was a very important triumph because Cardamone was one of the best European fighters of his era. He defeated Silvio Branco three times: twice on points (after 12 rounds) and once by KO 10. Cardamone closed his career with 33 wins (15 KOs) and 3 losses. He won the Italian and European belts, challenged WBC champion Julian Jackson (losing by TKO 2), then won the European title again and took the WBU crown from Silvio Branco. After losing to Joval, Cardamone hung up the gloves.

Raymond Joval lost the WBU belt against Antonio Perugino. The latter was another excellent middleweight who became Italian, WBC international and WBU champion. After his win on points against mediocre Orlando Acuna, Perugino lapsed into a coma, then recovered and called it quits. His final record stands at 23-0, with 8 KOs. After losing to Perugino, Raymond Joval went back to the right track defeating decent South African Mpush Makambi for the IBO belt. Joval defended it four times. He was stripped of the belt after losing a non-title affair to Sam Soliman on July 18, 2004. Joval became IBO champion for the second time on June 3, 2005 with a UD over mediocre Lansana Diallo, but gained credibility in his first defense with a TKO 10 over Shannon Taylor (whose record was 42-3-2) in Australia.

In my opinion, Raymond Joval would gain even more credibility if he won the European title. There are many alphabet organizations that sanction world title fights, but only one rules boxing in Europe. Becoming EBU champion really means being the best in the continent. Besides, if he wins the EBU belt, he will help the popularity of boxing in his own country.

Today, fighting sports in Holland are synonymous with Muay Thai and K-1 Grand Prix. That’s the real issue: Holland has produced a long list of champions in the other fighting sports. Many of them were so good that they dominated the European scene and even made it in the Orient. Ramon Dekkers accomplished what most people considered an impossible task: he became a superstar in Thailand. Born on September 4, 1969 in Breda (Holland), Ramon KOed the most dangerous Muay Thai artists at Lumpinee Stadium (which is Bangkok’s version of Madison Square Garden).

If you write on Google “Ramon Dekkers Video,” a list of videos of his most exciting fights will appear. I suggest you to look at the one produced by Pharanq – the title is “Ramon Dekkers Muay Thai Highlights” – which lasts 5 minutes and 34 seconds and will allow you to see some terrifying KOs. My favorite is the one against famed Coban: Dekkers punches him around the ring, closes him in a corner, then delivers a terrific combination of right and left hooks to the head. Coban goes down, but Dekkers doesn’t let him reach the floor, he grabs the Thai and delivers a knee to the face. The referee counts over Coban, before he gets up. Dekkers hits him with a left hook to the jaw; while Coban is going down Ramon delivers a right hook to the face causing Coban to fall in the opposite direction. This time, Coban is down for good. With such outstanding talent as Ramon Dekkers making it big in Muay Thai it is obvious that the youngsters dreamed of being like him, rather than dreaming of being boxer who could just win minor titles.

As a matter of fact, boxing only draws small crowds in Holland. On the other hand, 17,500 people were in attendance at Amsterdam Arena last May 13 for the World Max (the K-1 for middleweights) which included Ramon Dekkers vs. Joeri Mes. After three 3-minute rounds under K-1 rules (punches, kicks and knees), the young lion defeated the 37-year-old legend on points. It should have been Ramon’s last fight, but you never know with such a great champion. Given Ramon’s popularity in Thailand, where he gets mobbed on the street like a boxing champion in the United States, he could receive an offer for a new fight. After all, Dekkers became a legend because he always fought everybody, everywhere, anytime. That’s why he was the first Westerner voted Fighter of the Year by the Thais.

When Ramon Dekkers came to Italy for two days to teach in seminars, I went to the Adriatic Sea to meet him. The first day there were so many people attending the seminar that interviewing The Diamond (that’s the nickname given to him by the Thais) was impossible. The second day, I got to talk to him. You can read what he told me about Muay Thai in the interview published by TSS last July 3. Now, read what he said about boxing in Holland:

“My first martial art was judo, which I practiced for a few months. My first ring sport was boxin,g which I did for one year and half. One day, I went to a Muay Thai gym and fell in love with it. The owner of the gym was Cor Hemmers who became my first and only trainer. He always believed in looking at every fighting art to learn new things and that’s why I never left boxing. I kept on improving my hooks and combinations, something that many Thai warriors didn’t. It has to be noticed that Thai judges consider more important Muay Thai techniques like elbows, knees than punches. Thai fighters know this and don’t train properly to throw punches and defend from them. That’s why I scored many KOs with my hooks. Coban was the greatest star of Lumpinee Stadium and I KOed him in a minute. My hooks were so fast and effective that he just couldn’t understand where they were coming from. Today, I opened my own gym in Breda and I teach boxing to all my students. Even if they ask me to show them how to throw those spectacular jumping kicks, I tell them to learn boxing first because it’s much easier scoring a KO with a good hook to the chin than any other way. ”

The way Ramon KOed Coban reminded me of Mike Tyson at his best. The one who pushed Larry Holmes to the ropes, hit him with a wonderful combination and finished him with a terrible hook to the jaw. Let’s get one thing straight: I think that Larry Holmes in his prime would have KOed Tyson because Iron Mike could never absorb any punishment and Larry had the power to hurt him badly. Not surprisingly, Mike Tyson is quite popular in Holland where he met Ramon Dekkers. In fact, Ramon put his photo with Iron Mike on his business card writing Legends of the ring.

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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