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Articles of 2006

Who Cares, So What, This is Boxing – Part 1

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The big news out of Thailand, of course, is the bloodless coup that took place in the early morning hours of September 20th. For the eighteenth time since WWII, the Thai government has been overthrown, this time by the “Political Reform Council for Democracy.”

“We have two weeks. After two weeks, we step out,” stated General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the head of Thailand’s army and temporary leader.

When the tanks began rolling through the city just after midnight, I was still awake. My initial reaction to news of the coup was not one of shock or disbelief but “Hey, why’s the cable out?” CNN, the BBC and all but the Thai channels were cut. Archived footage of the King was run for the next few hours on the Thai stations but I was still able to access the internet. A few hours later, that was cut as well.

Through it all, most Thai’s have been going about their business as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened – and why not? After all, their ousted Prime Minister, Taksin Shinawatra, is grocery shopping in London, so why should they be overly concerned?

* * *

More often than not I’m slightly disgusted with the boxing scene here, but I have to admit that when I heard of the coup, I did catch myself thinking, “I wonder if any fights are going to be cancelled.” Go figure.

None have been so far.

Thailand is a country with far too many perks to list – but when it comes to boxing, it’s sorely lacking. Sure, there is boxing and Muay Thai on TV every few days, spectators normally don’t pay to attend the fights (boxing at least) and there is no PPV to speak of. Sounds like a fight fan’s dream, doesn’t it?

At times it is but these times are few and far between. Instead, boxing in Thailand (and elsewhere) is full of mismatches, questionable decisions, ludicrous rankings and boxing commissions that aren’t really commissions. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and rarely are any substantial changes made.

Ask a casual boxing fan what they think about the current state of boxing and their response will inevitably head down the same road; boxing is corrupt, boxing is full of fights that shouldn’t take place and there’s far too many champions to keep track of. Fights that once were on regular TV then moved to ESPN and the USA Network and now are Pay-Per-View events running $40-$50 a pop. Sure, people bitch and moan about it but in the end they usually respond uniformly, “This is boxing.”

Yes, this is boxing. How boxing is and how it should be are so far apart though, it’s no wonder people respond the way they do. A close friend of mine, an avid boxing fan for 25 plus years now chooses only to watch boxing if it’s free. When I ask him what he thinks about boxing in Thailand he just laughs – to him it’s a joke – and to me as well. But I have a hard time giving up a sport I’ve grown up with and I’m a glutton for punishment. So I trudge along, waiting for the next good fight or interview – the one that makes it worthwhile and I, like all the other boxing fans, take it on the chin.    

Sirimongkol Singwancha (54-2, 32 KOs) vs. Lito Gonzaga (24-23-1, 8 KOs)

On the undercard of the WBC’s Jr. Flyweight Interim title fight between Wandee Singwancha and Juanito Rubillar in July of this year, WBC #2 ranked Sirimongkol Singwancha (54-2, 32 KOs) of Thailand faced overmatched Filipino fighter Lito Gonzaga. Not only had Gonzaga been retired for nearly eight years, he’d lost eleven of his last twelve fights, five out of the last six by KO. Gonzaga began his fighting career at super flyweight and ended it at featherweight. Even in his best days it’s doubtful he would have been able to last the distance with Sirimongkol and entering the ring at a blubbery 140 lbs. made winning all the more impossible.

Pre-determined winner – Sirimongkol Singwancha.
Actual winner (as if it were any surprise) – Sirimongkol Singwancha via TKO at 1:14 of round three.

The talented Mr. Gonzaga was little more than a punching bag with a pulse and fortunately he was quickly taken out of his misery before he could be seriously hurt.

The Games and Amusement Board (GAB) of the Philippines have rules set in place to prevent mismatches like these but Gonzaga, his team and the Thai matchmaker and promoter all ignored them. Before any fighter from the Philippines leaves to fight abroad they must first be medically cleared and given permission to fight by the Games and Amusement Board. GAB has the policy in place to prevent ill-prepared fighters from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous promoters and from suffering serious injuries but if a fighter ignores the rules, their effort is for naught. Gonzaga did not go to the Games and Amusement Board and according to one GAB official, after being out of the ring for close to eight years, there is no way Gonzaga would be cleared to fight Singwancha.

Thai matchmakers and promoters are well aware visiting Filipino fighters must have clearance from GAB but are unwilling and apathetic to check fighters brought in as opponents.

Surprise, surprise.

Oh and did I mention Sirimongkol Singwancha was not permitted to fight in the US against Chikashi Inada? This was two months before his fight with Gonzaga. The California State Athletic Commission refused to allow him to fight because he tested positive for hepatitis.

In Thailand, however, there is no policy in place on fighting with an infectious disease. Honestly, nothing here ever surprises me anymore.

The Positives

I’ll take quality over quantity any day and while quality fights in Thailand are rare, October and November have a couple of fights worth watching.

October 4 – WBA Super Bantamweight champion Somsak Sithchatchawal takes on Cellestino Caballero in a bout that at the very least should be shown on ESPN or Showtime. Guess what, it’s won’t be. It will, however, be televised on Thai TV, Channel 7. For some reason the bout takes place in Korat, also known as Nakorn Ratchisima, 250 kilometers from Bangkok. Sithchatchawal is making the first defense of the title he won in a slugfest against Mahyar Monshipour and his first defense is not cakewalk.

Caballero has defeated Daniel Ponce De Leon, Yober Ortega and Giovanni Andrade and is a lanky southpaw with good skills. Sithchatchawal displayed his mettle against Monshipour but whether or not he can take out Caballero or beat him via decision is debatable. Monshipour was the Thai’s biggest win and other than this, he’s faced the usual round of lousy opposition faced by Thais at his weight. I’ll go with the Thai since he’s at home but anything can happen and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Caballero pull off the upset.

November 17 – For the first time in three years Wonjongkam makes a mandatory defense of his WBC title against Monelisi Myekeni when the two meet in Nakorn Ratchisima, Thailand. Myekeni is his biggest threat since Hussy Hussein but the light-hitting South African will be hard-pressed to wrest the title from Wonjongkam.

To those who know boxing, the name Pongsaklek Wonjongkam symbolizes the fragmented state of boxing and unwillingness of champions to face one another. Wonjongkam claims he has only fought in Southeast Asia to appease the King of Thailand but boxing fans expect champions to fight top-notch fighters, not stiffs. Fighting one chump after another might be acceptable in Thailand but the boxing community is on to him and is well aware of the truth.

Wonjongkam’s more adept at avoiding worthy opposition than Willie Pep was at making fighters miss and while Myekeni is a worthy challenger, the Thai still needs to prove he is deserving of being called champion. He should get past Myekeni but then what, more superfights against Filipino trike drivers and Mexicans on the slide?

Time to step up to the plate and face Vic Darchinyan…

Thai Tidbits

On September 22nd, 1960, Pone Kingpetch knocked out Pascual Perez in round eight to retain his World Flyweight Title. The victory came just five months after Kingpetch wrested the title from Perez via fifteen round split decision at Lumpini Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

Fight Results

September 9th, 2006 – Jakarta, Indonesia
Chris John UD12 Renan Acosta

September 15th, 2006 – Chumporn, Thailand
Terdsak Jandaeng KO1 Abi Metiaman
Nethra Sasiprapa UD6 Alwi Alhabsy
Duangpetch Saengmorakot UD6 Refly Rengkung

September 16th, 2006 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Hiroyuki Enoki UD12 Nedal Hussein

September 17th, 2006 – Yokohama, Japan
Cristian Mijares SD12 Katsushige Kawashima

Katsushige Kawashima announces retirement after bout.

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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