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Articles of 2006

Boxing News: Aiken and Guerrero Meet the Press

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In anticipation of the IBF featherweight title showdown between the champ Eric Aiken and his challenger Robert Guerrero (Showtime), the two combatants met with the boxing press via telephone conference call on Thursday, August 24, and this is what went down…

Guerrero: I am feeling great.  I want to thank everybody.  First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity.  I also want to thank Eric Aiken for giving me the opportunity.  I just want to thank everybody.

Begin Press Questions.

Question:  Eric, a couple of fights ago, you were just another guy. Then you beat Tim Austin and  then got a shot on short notice and won the IBF title.  What has that done for your career and confidence?

Aiken:  That boosted my confidence level 100 percent, but I cannot take all the credit for it.  My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, put everything in perspective for me. And since I’ve rededicated my life to Him, everything has been working out for me.  So I give him all the praise and credit.  I just get in there and do what I have to do by fighting, but none of that would have been set up without him. So he gets the glory.

Question:  Do you have to pinch yourself so that you can realize that you are a champion now?

Aiken:  Absolutely.  It has been a long time coming, but sometimes I still just feel like a regular human being, which I am.  You know, I am still humble, but I realize that every now and then, I am champion of the world and it is surreal sometimes.

Question:  Robert, what do you know about Aiken?

Guerrero:  I have seen a lot of stuff.  Eric Aiken is a strong fighter.  He comes to fight.  But, as he said, he has the Lord behind him. When you have the Lord behind you, most of the time you are unstoppable. When you have another guy that is backed by the Lord too, it is just the two of you in there fighting. It is going to be a great fight. I am excited. I cannot wait.  I have been working for this since I was nine years old. On Sept. 2, we are going to get it on.

Question:  Eric, this is your first defense.  Can you talk about that and also about “The Ghost Guerrero.”  Do you know him?  What has your training been like so far?

Aiken:  I do not personally know “The Ghost.”  Like I said before, we have a spiritual bond. We are both born again Christians. I can tell that. I do not really know too much about him. I have seen him fight a few times, and it is going to be a great fight.  We are going to put on a show for SHOWTIME and all of our fans – his as well as mine. I am extremely excited about having my first defense, especially in a venue like STAPLES and on SHOWTIME.  So that excites me.  I have just been working hard and I am ready to get it on.

Question:  Eric, you are going to be fighting in hostile territory. Do you take that into consideration in your training?  Are you mentally prepared for that?

Aiken:  I am absolutely mentally prepared for that because I have been the underdog in all of my fights. When I knocked out Tim Austin, I was the underdog.  So I like hostile environments in that situation.  It makes me strive harder, and work harder, and fight better.  So it is not a shock to me.  I do not mind.

Question:  How good are you against southpaws?

Guerrero:  Ask Tim Austin. I knocked him out. Ask Darby Smart. I beat him for the NABA title.  I knocked him out. He is left-handed. Ask Agnaldo Nunes.  He was left-handed and I knocked him out. So I am pretty good with them.

Question:  Do you want to have a prediction for your first defense?

Aiken:  I am going to leave that to the fans and the critics.

Question:  Robert, what is your prediction?

Guerrero:  (in ring announcer’s voice) And new …. IBF Featherweight Champion of the World.

Question:  Eric, why do you consider yourself an underdog all the time?

Aiken:  Because this is the first time I have had eight to nine weeks to train to get ready for a fight, and my record does not indicate how skilled I am. That is why I am the underdog.  Just like I said in the press conference against Valdemir Pereira, I am going to show that records do not mean anything. A lot of their (opponents’) W’s are against taxicab and bus drivers.  So that does not mean anything to me because they are not going to fight me like they fight anybody. They have not been hit as hard as I am going to hit anyone that I fight. I do not mind being the underdog.  It makes for better betting odds.

Question:  Eric, of your four losses, how many would you say are legitimate losses?

Aiken:  One, when I lost against Al Seeger because I did not fight. That is the only regret I have pretty much in my life. I did not fight because I killed myself to make the weight (122 pounds). I cannot fight at 122 anymore. It was a short notice fight as well, and the first punch I threw knocked him down and I just had a mental lapse.  I finished the fight on my feet, never was knocked down, never was hurt. I just did not give it my all.  I was not mentally there.

Question:  Eric, do you feel you fight to the level of your competition?

Aiken:  Absolutely. I get up for big fights. (For some fights), I have not trained as hard as I have been training right now.  For my past victories, I have not trained. When I am fighting guys that were like 5-0 and 8-1, I did not really get up for those fights, which was a mental lapse.  I just thought I was going to go in there and knock them out.  Unfortunately, for the people to beat me, it is like their championship. So they give it their all, and I did not realize that until it was too late.  But all that has changed now. I give training 100 percent.

Question:  For both of you – what has your training situation and the people you are working with meant to you?

Aiken:  My trainers have been excellent.  I have been with Adrian Davis for a couple of years.  I also have Jerry Page in my corner as well, an ’84 Olympic gold medalist.  So they just critique my skills for what I already have and give me other things that they feel I lack.  So it has been excellent for me.

Guerrero:  I have had John Bray for going on two years now. He is great. Every time I am in camp with him, I am learning more and more.  As you guys have seen in the fights, I just keep improving and improving.  So John has been awesome and helps me take care of business.  He is doing a fantastic job.

Question:  Robert, do you feel that maybe this title shot is overdue, or is this now your time?

Guerrero:  I have been paying my dues and the title shot is overdue.  I have been ready for quite awhile.  I am excited that I am getting the shot and I just cannot wait.

Question:  “Ghost,” talk about two things.  First, the venue, fighting at the Staples Center, and then also what you know about Eric.

Guerrero:  STAPLES Center is one of the greatest venues around right now. I am excited I will be fighting there. I have been to a few fights there. The crowd is awesome. I cannot wait.  But there is a lot of stuff that caught my eye with Aiken and you guys are going to find out Sept. 2. He is a tough fighter.  He comes to fight.  He does pop with both hands.  Like he just said, he has never trained this hard ever for fights and he gets up for the fight.

Question:  Do you feel the same about yourself, as far as getting up for the bigger fights?

Guerrero:  Oh yes.  When it is time to step up to the plate, I step up to the plate and I get the job done.

Question:  Robert, can you talk about the respect that you have for Eric?

Guerrero:  I have respect for every fighter — from the eight year old amateur to the heavyweight champ of the world. What it takes to get in the ring and what you have to do to prepare to get in the ring, I have respect for everybody. I have a lot of respect for Eric.  He is a world champ. He has paid his dues and he has fought the fights. On Sept. 2, we are going to do it.

Question:  Eric, do you in any way feel a little bit underestimated going into this one?

Aiken:  I do feel underrated.  You will see on Sept. 2.  But I guess that does not bother me.  I know what strengths I have, what weaknesses I have, and what my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has in store for me.  So all that underrating will be out the window come Sept. 2.

Question:  Does that motivate you any more?

Aiken:  Absolutely.

Question:  Robert, regarding the Diaz fight, you lost a controversial decision to him and then in your last fight, you avenged that loss by knockout.  What kind of confidence does that bring for you for this fight coming up?

Guerrero: The confidence really never left.  I just had a bad night.  Diaz is a tough fighter.  He comes to fight all the time.  You get in with Diaz, he is going to make you look bad or not.  If you have a bad night, he is going to beat you.  But I proved to everybody around that I did have a bad night.  Came and knocked him out in six rounds and he did not get back up.

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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