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Articles of 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin’

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The biggest quake (or should I say wake) in boxing? Four heavyweight champions from the former USSR… (Oleg Maskaev, Sergei Lyakhovic, Wladimir Klitchsko and Nicolay Valuev) or is it four white heavyweight champions that two years ago maybe even a year ago, three of which were either never on, or no longer on, the boxing radar screen. The truth remains that there should only be one heavyweight champ, and I know most would say Wladimir Klitchsko given the fact he beat Chris Byrd. He appears to be the most talented… but from my POV, I gotta say it’s Sergei Lyakhovic (not that he could beat Klitchsko)… he beat Lamon Brewster, who KO’d Wladimir… Simple as that… no heavyweight controversy here… but therein lies a travesty.

No world heavyweight champion from the United States… I can barely remember the time when there wasn’t an U.S or western hemisphere or black world heavyweight champ (which is really the rumbling under the surface and it would be much more interesting if people just came out and said it). After all, even when Gerrie Coetze was champ, you still had Larry Holmes as the real thing… before that, I think Ingemar Johansson was the last white heavyweight champ, Rocky Marciano before him and then you had to stretch back to pre-Joe Louis to find a “non-black” world heavyweight champion… The States was probably as shocked almost 100 years ago when Jack Johnson became the first black world heavyweight champ as it is today knowing there aren’t any black heavyweight champs… The worst thing is, many aren’t even sure if any are on the horizon. The best hopes for U.S heavyweight boxing are James Toney, Shannon Briggs and (dare I say it)… Evander Holyfield… Evander is a real interesting story that we will get to at another time.

Anyway, I don’t want to reside here too long because things can get kinda grim, and that really isn’t where I want to go with this story. I want to rap about the apathy in the current stateside heavyweight, black, white or whatever… I believe it started back with “Two Ton” Tony Galento… a man who at 5’8” and 235 lbs, fought with a big left hook and an even bigger beer belly. He had Joe Louis on the deck but the Brown Bomber got back up and that’s all she wrote.

So let’s say it started with an attitude and manifested itself physically. There used to be a certain pride when it came to being a fighter, now for heavyweights it has devolved into something less glamorous… In the late 70’s early 80’s, that’s when we began to see the heavyweights’ bodies change. Yes, there were always the Buster Mathis, Scott Ledoux types, but they never got to be champs and one would think their conditioning would have something to do with that. Jimmy Young, Greg Page, Tony Tubbs, Riddick Bowe are just some of the ridiculously gifted fighters that you feel only needed the help of a good fitness regimen and they would’ve been GREAT fighters.

I am not saying that your body has to be like a god’s in order to fight, (Larry Holmes took out Mike “Hercules” Weaver) but the fact that you do have some muscle definition says something… it says you have sacrificed and paid the price… and paying the price is something many of the U.S heavyweight are no longer interested in doing…

So where does the responsibility lie? Well, trainers and managers need to get on the same page. Managers are partially responsible, as are the trainers (ultimately the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the fighter, as does the embarrassment). Here’s what not all, but many, managers do: instead of continuing to make their fighters train hard and pay the price for glory through various performance clauses, they mollycoddle their fighters with comforts that would cause the most desperate to not want to fight…. I mean, c’mon, who wants to fight after you’ve just had a full meal? I don’t know if the human brain can tell the difference when it comes to satisfaction, but my obvious guess is that it cannot, otherwise it wouldn’t lull fighters into a false sense of accomplishment because the belly is full or the sexual appetite has been sated. Now, if they build in a certain performance clause that rewards a fighter for “Spartan” behavior or, better yet, accomplishments, you will see the difference in how a fighter fights and how he prepares for a fight…

Trainers are the second partial culprits… Hey, you got a fighter that is undefeated, you two get along, your fighter doesn’t do the things you would like to see him do in the ring, but, hey, you haven’t lost and your guy can punch… he’s exciting. They turn a blind eye to work ethic… allow him to miss roadwork, go light on floor work, cancel sparring sessions, the list is massive. Little strain in the calf, ok, don’t jump rope, twinge in the shoulder… ok, no pushups… that behavior fosters a lazy fighter, period… And it all comes out in the fight because a fighter can only do what he was trained to do… there are no miracles. How many times have you heard a trainer yell in the corner what sounds like great advice,  something like, “get under the right hand come back with the left hook.” Sounds simple enough, but guess what? If that isn’t what was practiced in the gym, over and over again, it sure isn’t going to happen in the middle of a title fight with some 250 lb. behemoth trying to behead you. Trainers have to meet their fighters head-on with the support and backing of their managers. Trainers at one time used to get the respect afforded a martial arts master; nowadays, not necessarily so. I understand that for many professional trainers, this is how they put food on the table and like every other earner he can’t afford to get “fired.” The fighter may end up disliking you and if he says he doesn’t want you as his trainer anymore, then you have to give up the reigns… And there ain’t no “human resources department ” that will help you out or a severance package as you’re out the door either. I agree that is a tough one and I have never had that experience before so I can comment no further, but maybe there is room for compromise.

One more glaring note on how both managers and trainers contribute to the demise of the U.S. heavyweight. Both trainer and manager used to have just one or two fighters, these days a trainer can have at least 5 different fighters and a manager even more. There has to be a quality drop-off somewhere.

Is it the game of numbers? Now that the gates of competition have been opened worldwide, are we discovering talent throughout the former Soviet Union that never existed before? Definitely, yes, just as we have missed a massive amount of talent from Cuba. Has the U.S lost a lot of talent due to the lures of other higher paying sports like basketball and football? Yes, without a doubt… but the only excuse for the U.S being dominated by the new influx of Soviet-trained heavyweights is work ethic, hard work being the great equalizer.

Gentlemen, you are fighting… Sacrifice (willingly giving up one thing to achieve another) will win out in the end. Sacrifice can and often beats amazing talent… at the very least it stresses talent to its breaking point. That’s what we have been seeing of late, desire and the necessity of a win overcoming athletic talent lacking in the dedication department. Put sacrifice together with talent and you have the ultimate fighter.

Brewster, in my estimation (put their talents head-to-head) should have thumped Liakovitch, and Ruiz should have thumped Valuev. (Didn’t see that fight but I understand it to be like most other Ruiz fights and he could’ve been given the decision, but like I said, I didn’t see it). Byrd vs. Wladimir? Any time you get a 6’1” heavyweight that doesn’t own a knockout punch trying to “walk down” a 6’6” 240 pound heavyweight that is fast and also a puncher, well, I think they employed the wrong fight style… And that brings us to the latest U.S debacle, Maskaev and Rahman. I am sure there was a psychological advantage due to the fact that Maskaev had previously knocked Rahman out, but it was a flawed performance in a very winnable fight for Rahman and it was probably just one thing that made the difference… the desire. So far the U.S, may have won the Cold War, but without a doubt the beautiful States are getting drubbed in the ring wars.

Yes, the times, they are a-changin'… again.

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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