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Articles of 2006

Liakovich/Briggs: ‘Tis The Season



It’s a good thing the waiters had removed the steak knives before the meeting of the Shelly Finkel fan club convened at Gallagher’s Steak House in Manhattan on Monday afternoon, because you could picture someone grabbing a utensil and heading off to track down ole Shelly.

Well, not just “someone.”

Don King and Shannon Briggs led the verbal assault on the veteran manager, who drew the ire of the promoter and the Brownsville, Brooklyn heavyweight for what they deem to be unfair and unseemly practices in negotiating his client Wladimir Klitschko’s next fight.

The press conference was arranged to call attention to Sergei Liakhovich’s WBO title defense, which comes on Nov. 4 in Phoenix against the 34-year-old power puncher, Briggs. But as with any King-led convention, there were digressions aplenty.

First, the media, happily sated with hearty fare, topped by a sweet capper of cheesecake, were treated to a video montage of Don King’s greatest hits. Essentially, for anyone that didn’t know, or needed reminding, King is the PT Barnum of his arena, he says, and he makes buttloads of money for himself, his fighters and his business partners. “Don King is a starmaker,” the narrator proclaimed. We saw an A to Z compilation of King’s heavyweight charges…wait, make that A to Y, as everyone from Ali to Jimmy Young who has signed on King’s dotted line in the last four decades was seen briefly. Yes, David Bey and Friday Ahunanya made the cut…

“Just the facts, no hyperbole,” King promised, with his hand nowhere near any Bible, as he kicked off the proceedings.

There was in fact a theme to the PC, and no, it wasn’t trash Shelly Finkel until his ears are ringing. Instead, we saw video of President Reagan imploring Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall during his famous speech June 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate. What, you may rightly ask, does this have to do with the Nov. 4 WBO title fight, Liakhovich’s first defense after beating Lamon Brewster for the belt, to be shown on Showtime?

Plenty, actually. The Wall did indeed crumble in 1989, and as the Communist Bloc splintered, opportunities for enterprising people, like the Liakhovichs, arose. The dominoes fell as the Wall did, and in 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved, and republics were allowed to flourish as sovereign nations and territories. The spirit of glasnost seeped into the world of boxing, and we see the result of that today, with a native of Belarus (a Soviet republic) standing atop the WBO’s ranking ladder. Two Kazahkstan-born champs and a Russian one can also attest to the spirit of glasnost in the fight game…

King said he was suffering from a kidney stone as he was locking down the Liakhovich/Briggs deal, but doing the deal removed pain better than a Vicodin could. But, he said, Finkel did his damnedest to muddy the mix. King says he offered Liakhovich for Wladimir but Finkel wasn’t into it. Instead, Finkel told MSG that he had Briggs signed, sealed and delivered to fight Klitschko. That, Garden officials would know, would help the gate and be a hot NYC event. However, King said, Finkel “outdid Goebbels” with that bit of negotiation, as he was also trying to get Maskaev to fight Wladimir in the fall instead of taking an easy mandatory, or skipping right to Sam Peter, and thus hadn’t locked down the promised hometowner.

King took the media on a recent history lesson, relating how Klaus Peter Kohl wanted an easy fight for Wladimir Klitschko and King suggested Corrie Sanders, who King found on an African golf course. We all know how “easy” that one tuned out to be…

Long story shortened, King reminded all that Brewster KO’d Golota, who he said beat Byrd and Ruiz, though the judges in each case determined otherwise, and that Liakhovich looked so impressive in working over Brewster.

So, all in all, King said, Wlad ain’t all that, and Sergei is the man.

“The White Wolf is now the baddest champion out there,” King said. “Wlad is very handsome, a very nice guy, weak heart, soft chin. You can’t change that unless you get Dr. Baker to do a transplant.”

(Now, I think King referenced Doc Baker from Little House on the Prairie, but I could be really, really wrong.)

Then, King lauded Briggs for being a dangerous hitter, using Manny Steward’s assessment when Steward was building hype for Wlad/Briggs, before that imploded.

Briggs, who has been training in Colorado, took the podium. He thanked the usual suspects and gave his case for deserving this shot.

“Sergei’s going against a guy who has more experience,” he said. “I’m hungry, I’m stronger. Standing next to him, my blood is boiling. I’m back. I’m 34, I’m more experienced, like Tyson I’m a late bloomer.”

“Sergei looks beautiful in that blue suit, we’ll have to bury his ass in it,” Briggs cracked.

Liakhovich held his composure when Briggs tried to rattle him.

“Watch those eyes,” he warned. “I will slap the [crap] out of you. I’m known for that.”

Then, Briggs got out the long knives, for Finkel.

“In my opinion,” said Briggs, who has seen his share of courtroom skirmishes, and is wise to legalese and libel law, “Shelly is a scumbag. He used my name to go the Garden. It feels good to finally have a promoter behind me. Shelly did me dirty, basically. He shagged me. He had me sitting at home waiting for a fax for two months. He said, ‘The fight is yours.’ [Which was bull.]”

(NOTE: I will try to get a response from Finkel today, as deadline didn’t allow that yesterday, in order to give him a fair platform to defend himself)

Briggs, who has won 11 straight fights to middling opposition since losing at the MSG Theater in 2002 to Jameel McCline, reminded or informed those who didn’t know that his upbringing in Brooklyn, to put it succinctly, sucked. He slept in shelters and on the subway at times, as his mom had difficulty with substance abuse, and his dad was a no-show from early on.

“I’m 260 pounds of muscle,” he said. “Nothing’s gonna stop this now. It’s personal.”

I wouldn’t try to goad Shannon onto a scale and test that 260 pound assertion.

I’m hoping he gets into the 250s for Sergei, who is fairly agile, and owns a better chin than Wlad.

I say, let this be the start of a late game renaissance for Briggs, who would like to be included in that Brownsville pantheon, with Tyson, Bowe and Eddie Gregory.

That he’s even doing this anymore is a credit to him, for it would have been all too easy to wallow in despair, and take solace in any number of diabolical chemical combinations to salve the physic trauma that such an upbringing gives birth to. He could’ve gotten lost in a needle and a spoon or the pipe to tamp down on those rude memories, but he didn’t.

Does he eat too much and perform too little road work for some people’s liking, for one competing at a world-class level? Perhaps so.

But that he’s even present in the arena is worth a lot, and truly, do you have a whole handful of deserving folks who would be better suited for a crack at Liakhovich? I’m waiting…

No, time and the scale are not on Shannon Briggs’ side, but I confess to be leaning his way.

He’s a middle age man in a sport that is built for the springy fast twitch muscles of twentysomethings.

He doesn’t allow scales in his house.

His dad jetted from the scene early on, mom did drugs and died, clean, in 1996, while his stepdad died in jail. He’s packed a lifetime worth of misery in two decades of living.

Wouldn’t it be a kick to see Shannon Briggs rip one of those title belts out of Eastern Euro hands?

“Mr. Briggs,” I can hear President Ronald Reagan say, “tear down that Liakhovich!”

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



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, 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



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



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


Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


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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