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Articles of 2006

Chartchai Chionoi: Still Going Strong, Part 1

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He is Thailand’s second world’s champion in professional boxing, having followed Pone Kingpetch, and is considered the great grandfather of boxing in Thailand. He was the King of Thailand’s favorite boxer, spending time at his palace and often receiving his public praise. He is a devout family man who was possessed by the need to give his wife and four children a good life and is revered by many of Thailand’s great boxers including Samart Payakarun, Muangchai Kitticasem, Saman Sorjaturong and Sot Chitalada.

I took the 6AM train from Bangkok to see Chionoi at his home in Chiang Mai, arriving in the early evening. His son Boi had arranged to pick me but in typical Thai fashion, the entire Chionoi family was waiting for me at the train station. I had a hotel reserved but was told they would have none of it and I would be staying at their home. We stopped and had dinner at one of their favorite restaurants and then made the forty-five minute journey from the city to their home in the hills.

The Chionoi home is set on a hill about two hundred yards in from the main road, hidden behind hundreds of trees in a lush, green forest. The tallest trees are in the back of the house and when standing on the doorstep of the house the tip of the Doi Suthep Mountain is just visible. A small pasture lies between the house and a creek just before a huge row of soaring trees that extends all the way to the main road. To get to the house, you must first negotiate a rickety, twenty-foot long wooden bridge that descends forty-five degrees and allows one to cross the creek. Another hundred yards through an alley between a line of shrubs and the house is upon you.

Chionoi’s home is a museum of memorabilia and a shrine to the three-time flyweight champion. It is a traditional Thai home, made from wood, two stories and set on thick wooden pillars. Modest but comfortable, you can’t help but scan the busy walls and take in the memories of Chionoi’s life.

That first night we stayed up well into the wee hours of the morning, talking about everything life has to offer, of course boxing included. Family and relationships are also popular subjects and there was never a shortage of conversation. There were times we talked only of boxing and others we spent having fun; like our trip to Chionoi’s waterfall on his property or our late night B-B-Q discussing the virtues of staying single or being married. I was not only given an interview but an inside look into the life of Chionoi and his family before and after boxing.

All along the way, Oot, Chionoi’s wife of 45 years, has been his constant friend and companion, doing everything her husband has with the exception of physically getting in the ring and doing battle. Nonetheless, she has felt her share of the punches and still does.

When I first met Chionoi, I had a hard time understanding him; like countless other pugilists who have fought in many-a-hard battle, he slurs his words. I originally thought he might have Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s but later found doctors don’t know what is specifically wrong with him other than his brain has been damaged from being on the receiving end of far too many punches. Fortunately he has the resources to receive the care he needs and is examined every three months.

Several times a day he would motion to me, telling me he was spinning and suffering from a headache. Noise compounds his condition, filling his head with confusion. A room full of people talking could be all it takes to set off a headache which is why he and his wife moved to the countryside in Chiang Mai – it’s serene and uncluttered.

I found myself telling him more than once how many children I have and that “Yes, I am married to a Thai woman. She’s home in Bangkok taking care of the kids.” His short-term memory is virtually nonexistent but his medium to long-term memory is excellent.

I’ve resisted the urge to feel sorry for him and thankfully so. Much like Muhammad Ali he wants no sympathy and is quietly content. He is far from destitute and is full of life. He has land throughout Thailand and a doting wife and four children who help make sure he is well taken care of. They are all extremely proud of what he’s accomplished and sacrificed and are acutely aware he has given his blood, sweat and tears – for them.

When at the end of our time together I asked Chionoi if it was all worth it, he wasted no time in telling me “Definitely.”

“Boxing has been good to me and my family,” said Chionoi. “Sometimes it’s painful to always see my championship belts and the photos on the wall because I miss the excitement of being in the ring, but if I had it to do all over again I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Even now, 31 years after his last fight, his face and name are still remembered in Thailand and around the world. When a group of us went to a tiny food market on the side of the road, a woman asked, “Didn’t that guy used to be a fighter? He’s… Chionoi… right?!” Chionoi simply smiled and waved, happy to be remembered but slightly embarrassed.

Next – Part 2, Speaking with Chartchai

Chartchai Chionoi

Career: 1957 – 1975
Championships: WBC Flyweight (1966-1969, 1970), WBA Flyweight (1973-1974), OPBF (1962, 1963)
Memorable Wins: Efren Torres, Walter McGowan, Salvatore Burruni, Berkrerk Chartvanchai and Friz Chervet
Memorable Losses: Masao Ohba, Erbito Salavarria
Alias Naris Chionoi
Country: Thai
Hometown: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Birthplace: Bangkok, Thailand
Division: Flyweight
Date of Birth:  Oct. 10, 1942
Stance: Orthodox
Manager: Boonlert Lerkpicha and Prayot Pisanbot

BoxRec record shows Chianoi as 63-18-3
According to Chionoi family records, BoxRec records are incorrect.

His record may actually be somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-20-3 and are in the process of being updated. The update should be completed by the end of September 2006.

Thai Tidbits

Contrary to rumors floating around, former bantamweight king Veeraphol Sahaprom has no plans of moving up in weight. According to Sahaprom’s manager, Suchart Pissitwuttinun (See Ooey), Sahaprom is gunning for a rematch against current WBC champion Hozumi Hasegawa or the WBA champion, Vladimir Sidorenko.

”Veeraphol wants to be a three-time champion,” said See Ooey. “It really doesn’t matter who it’s against though as long as it’s a WBC or WBC title.”

* * *

7-28-06, Saraburi, Thailand: Chatchai Sasakul TKO’d  Katsumi Makiyama in round five of their scheduled twelve round bout to win the Asian Boxing Council’s (WBC) interim super flyweight title. Sasakul has stopped working at the karaoke bar and restaurant which bears his name, instead dedicating all of his time to one last run at the title.

From the P.I.

According to the ESPN scribe Dan Rafael, Manny Pacquiao will be dropping his current managerial team of Shelly Finkel, Nick Khan and Keith Davidson after his third fight with Erik Morales. No reason has been given for the split but a future partnership between Manny Pacquiao Promotions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank has been mentioned. Manny Pacquiao confidant Rex “Wakee” Salud has stated, however, the decision is all Pacquiao’s and at this point it would be premature to confirm any change in management.

* * *

Up-and-coming Filipino super bantamweight Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista suffered a hairline fracture of the collarbone in training and has been scratched from the undercard of the September 16th Barrera – Jaurez fight.

(Read Part 2 of Scott Mallon's feature on Chartchai Chionoi)

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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