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Articles of 2006

In A City Of Heavyweights, Valuev Stands Tall

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When a boxer reaches 33, as the humongous Russian Nicolay Valuev did on Aug. 21, it becomes more than prudent to at least consider what you’ll be doing when it is no longer prudent to lace the gloves up and trade punches for money. It becomes necessary, unless you are a genetic freak (like Bernard Hopkins) or you have salted away a Fort Knoxian pile of riches (like Oscar De La Hoya) that will allow you to do nothing more than watch Matlock reruns and scarf Fritos on the sofa if that’s what your heart desires.

I’m happy to hear that Valuev, who came to New York on Monday for a tour of our fair city, and surely turned heads from downtown to midtown as tourists gawked at his impressive (7 ft tall, 330 or so pounds, a face that would give Charles Manson the shivers if lit correctly), has contemplated what comes next when his boxing career closes.

The movies beckon, the Giant Russian, through his interpreter, told the media hordes at the Russian Firebird Restaurant in the theater district/Times Sq. region of Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon.

Scripts attached to DeNiro and Vin Diesel are on standby for now, however, as the 44-0 from St. Petersburg first looks to show boxing fans, and plenty of other merely curious non-fight-fans, that he is no freak show on Oct. 7 in Chicago. The Giant, who is being shown around town by co-promoter Don King, will be punching down on that night towards the head of Monte Barrett, a Queens, NY heavyweight who maintains that he will be the man to bring heavyweight bragging rights back to the US, or at least, the WBA belt, which Valuev took off John Ruiz in December 2005.

I got to the restaurant late after threading my way past the hordes of out-of-towners that we semi-surly but deep-down-underneath-softies from the City mutter about profanely as they clog sidewalks or walk a sad, Midwestern-mile-per-hour pace. It was 12:45 PM, so the grub was picked over, and the joint was insanely packed. I found a seat next to Harold Lederman’s bride, who seems to perhaps enjoy these dog and pony shows, as opposed to merely tolerating them. As we waited for The Giant and The Don to appear Lederman made a good point that I hadn’t thought of: who manufactures gloves that will be large enough to fit Valuev’s catcher mitt sized paws, and still weight the requisite 10 ounces? Harold said Bowe threw a scare into the suits at HBO twice when after getting his hands wrapped, he said his gloves wouldn’t fit…

At 1:40, Valuev appeared and we all craned our necks to get a peek at the massive slab of man. He looked sharp in his suit, with his promoter Wilf Sauerland and trainer Manuel Gabrielian in tow.

King kicked things off with a pro-Dubya/terrorism sucks stump speech and had me chuckling when he pronounced the Giant’s name as “Value-ev.” As in “value,” as in this is a solid commodity that I’m going to make some dough on.

Kery Davis, the HBO chief, talked up the Oct. 7 scrap, which will be shown on the net and said that people have been accosting him everywhere he goes asking him about “the big Russian guy.”

Monte Barrett, Davis said, will help all of us determine whether or not Valuev is anything more than a momentary diversion from the more attractive lighter weight fights that are on the near horizon, or something more.

I’m leaning towards something more; any time you get a man this large, with anything more than average coordination, you have something compelling. Valuev can hit OK, but more importantly, he knows how to box, how to set things up with the jab, how to deflect advances with that jab, he knows his limitations and doesn’t get caught up in needless trading and he remembers to step away after he throws. That step, mind you, covers about half the ring so I am hard-pressed to see Barrett, with his wide receiver body, being able to get much done on Oct. 7.

Barrett has a different opinion. The second-tier heavyweight, who has faltered when asked to step up to a higher class, against Derrick Jefferson, Wladimir Klitschko, Joe Mesi and Hasim Rahman, told TSS that he’s as mentally and physically fit as he’s ever been since he turned pro in 1996. At the podium, Barrett, styling in a blue Izod polo and sunglasses, said his game was off when he met Hasim Rahman a year ago, his last paid outing.

“I had personal issues the day of the fight,” he explained. “I found out my sister was stabbed and I had issues with my son’s mother…Mentally, I was not there.”

Barrett’s new trainer—he’s had a slew, including Al Davis, Jimmy Glenn, Tommy Parks, Eddie Muhammad, Tommy Brooks, Shadow Knight—is James Ali Bashir, a Kronk guy, so maybe this combo will stick. Barrett painted a picture of the height disparity and a mythological parallel.

“David destroyed Goliath on fate and it took him five stones to do it,” Barrett said. “It’s going to take me two stones.”

Stan Hoffman then used the mike to state that he considers Barrett his fourth child, and goosebumps erupted everywhere.

After Bashir said his piece, the man that everyone came to see, the mountainous Valuev, took to the podium.

“I’m happy to be in America,” he said in English and then switched over to his native tongue as an interpreter translated.

“Walking around New York, I was happy to see so many people smiling…don’t forget September 11th, but we’ll get over it together. Please accept my sincere sorrow over what happened September 11th.”

A sweet touch, though it must be said that he doesn’t need to go all Dick Cheney and play the 9/11 card; most of us, like the morons who appropriate Fed money for terrorism defense to the states, are over it. We all thought the other shoe would’ve dropped by now. End digression…

Sauerland took the stand and told us that “Nico,” as he calls him, tried out for him three years ago and was underwhelming, but has improved immensely since then, and in each fight.

Valuev came back to show off his other phrase in English:

“Only in America,” he said, using King’s trademark motto, to great guffaws.

The Giant, as nimble of tongue as King promised, then took questions from the keyboard calloused wretches.

How would he fight himself, Steve Farhood asked?

“That’s a secret I only share with my students,” he said.

Then a comedian asked if he were to lose to Barrett, would he move down to cruiserweight? Hey, sign that cat up for America’s Next Great Comedian! They have a show called that, don’t they?

“I’m not going to lose,” the Giant said, “and to do that I’d need to lose both my legs.”

He’s the largest man in the division, and possibly, the funniest too!

Another questioner gave him the opp to slag the Russian bloc of heavies but he took the high road. “I’m happy for them,” he said.

The Giant doesn’t win classiest heavyweight champion honors with that answer; Maskaev and Klitschko are both humble sons of guns, while Liakhovich has a bit of the lone wolf snarly posturing in him…

Your TSS correspondent asked if he ever considered doing anything but boxing, like, say, the movies?

Valuev has already been in a German flick, the Seven Dwarves, a manager told us, and he’s considering scripts featuring DeNiro and a Vin Diesel vehicle to shoot in Paris but for now, boxing’s on the brain.

Next, Valuev won a skirmish with a questioner who wanted to know who he’d beaten of consequence.

“I beat Ruiz,” he said. “Do you think he is not a serious opponent?”

The questioner shrugged, and made it clear he didn’t think Ruiz was all that and indicated that he hadn’t seen enough of that fight or the rest of Valuev’s conquests.

“Then why do you ask this question?” the Giant chided.

Have you ever been hurt, the large and in charge boxer was asked?

“Nyet,” he said, no translation needed.

In person, the Giant doesn’t look as tall as you might expect, but I’m not saying there is any creative measuring being done.

It’s probably because he’s so thick and we’re used to seeing 7 footers with basketball player physiques, and he’s got a pro wrestling build.

Come to think of it, should Barrett pull the upset, and the Giant tanks in Hollywood, Vince McMahon’s WWE is a most logical landing zone…

(Check out pix of the Valuev-Barrett Presser in the TSS Photo Gallery)

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

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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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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