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Articles of 2006

Contender Finale: Sugar Ray Leonard Likes Forbes, Brewer Promises Beatdown

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Fight game oldsters will tell you that purses for lower level boxers, far from increasing with the times, have  decreased or stayed the same since the 1950s.

A four-round fighter might make less today than he did when Truman, the man who popularized the saying “The Buck Stops Here,” was in the White House. Yes indeed, the bucks have, to an extent, stopped the correct direction of flow in an ideal world.

Ideally, the fighter would, could and should get a healthy cut of the proceeds from a fight, since, duh, he’s the one putting his ass on the line. But as regular Joes in this nation can tell you, the ones that see their bottom line getting weaker year after year since 2001, wage stagnation isn’t just a theory that can be spun by political B.S.meisters.

So it is with pleasure that I relay to you that the winner of tonight’s two-hour Contender finale, be it 29-year-old former IBF super featherweight champion, Michigan resident Forbes (32-3, 9 KOs), or 35-year-old Oklahoma Goodyear tire plant worker Grady Brewer (21-11, 12 KOs), will take home a nice chunk of change.

The victor gets $500,000 minus Uncle Sam’s greasy-handed grab, and payouts to management and corner personnel. The loser will make out with $75,000, minus IRS and support staff deductions.

And beyond the victory payday, which will represent the largest pot of gold for either man, will come a monstrous uptick in recognition. Either man, after the Tuesday showdown, which kicks off on ESPN at 10 PM Eastern (and is preceded by an undercard webcast featuring Wright/Barrett and Clark/Curiel on ESPN.com at 8:15 PM), will get stopped on the street 1000 times more than they were before, and will be able to parlay that into more earning power in future fights.

The favorite coming in to tonight’s scrap is conclusively Forbes. While he debuted as a 130-pounder in 1996, Forbes has looked solid as a welterweight in this second season of the Mark Burnett-created reality show. (Note: the fighters in the final will be allowed to weigh up to 150 pounds at scaletime). He’s an accurate, busy puncher, who doesn’t move quite like he did in his heyday, when he beat John Brown for the vacant IBF super feather belt, but does dance well enough to steer clear of Brewer’s busy hands.

For Forbes, he pegs this bout as by far the most monumental of his successful career.

“This is my biggest fight,” he told TSS. “The exposure…a lot of people who are not boxing fans will be watching this.”

Almost everyone tried to dissuade Forbes from signing up for the second season of The Contender, he says, telling him he would be undersized.

But Forbes hasn’t felt truly comfortable at 130 pounds for some time, and would probably have been better suited for a step up in weight class years ago. He isn’t worried that Brewer, who has campaigned at middleweight since turning professional in 1999, will be able to bully him.

“I’m not worried at all,” Forbes said. “I beat the biggest guy on the show, K9 Bundrage. I made him back up. I’m a throwback to the Henry Armstrong era.”

Forbes has had success, winning the title, and been decently compensated (he took home $112,000 to fight David Santos in 2002, in what would have been a defense of his title had he been able to make weight), but this is a brand new ballgame for him if he wins. He is ultra confident that he will.

“Brewer will be punished,” he says. “I have the smarts and the speed.”

For this bout, Forbes will be joined in the corner by the Contender elder statesman Tommy Gallagher. The two hit it off famously on the program and will continue their association. Forbes has been coached by the Mayweathers throughout his career, but Jeff Mayweather is working with Shannon Briggs for his November go with Sergei Liakhovich. Floyd Sr., Forbes said, has given his thumbs up to Gallagher.

“I talked to Floyd Senior Saturday morning,” he told TSS. “He gave Gallagher a compliment. He said…he calls him ‘the old guy,’ [and said] ‘he’ll get you through the fight.’”

Furthermore, the bond shown on the show between the two was legit, Forbes said.

“I’ve hung out with his family,” Forbes said. “His whole family. He’s old school. He’ll tell you straight. I want it straight, no hidden signals.”

And while Brewer will tell you that Gallagher is most useful as a motivator, Forbes says he brings ample technical expertise to the table. “We’ve been in camp for five weeks,” Forbes said. “He has a lot of technical knowledge, and about stuff like spacing. He’s a dying breed, a great cornerman and trainer. You don’t see so much of that anymore.”

Fewer than 1/3 of Forbes’ wins come from KO, so, we asked, will he be able to show enough pop to put off Brewer?

“About punching power, that’s why it’s called boxing,” he said. “But if he does what he says he’ll do, try to stop me, he’ll be punished.”

Before the finale, by the way, K9 Bundrage (23-2, 13 KOs), the 33-year-old Detroit resident, will take on Norberto Bravo, the 35-year-old Arizonan with a 22-11-3 (12 KOs) for the bronze.

Brewer, for his part, thinks Steve Forbes has had his time in the sun. He soaked up the rays, and its time for him to find a hammock in the shade, and give Brewer a shot.

“He already had a shot,” Brewer told TSS. “I don’t think he deserves it.”

Brewer is well aware that his 11 losses are a rather eye-popping number on his resume. But, he says, he’s had to work full-time since he turned pro, often working 12 hour shifts at a tire plant in Oklahoma. Now, he’s been able to step up his game to realize his full potential.

He basically managed himself on the way up, taking fights against more heralded opposition (like Jermain Taylor, Sechew Powell, Marco Rubio) for OK money (he made $10 Gs for each bout). Plus, personal issues took their toll on his mental strength.

“I cheated on my ex-wife and I was divorced in 2001,” he said. “I wasn’t doing the right things in life. No drugs, but now I feel right about my decisions.”

He’s remarried now, and feels like he’s got a lot more to give, even at 35 years old.

Brewer has a solid trainer, Shadeed Suluki, in his corner for the last few months. “I improve in each fight,” he said. “I’m at a different level now.”

“I’m gonna beat Forbes down,” he promised. “It’s going to have to be stopped. I’ll be too much for him.”

Of course, Brewer isn’t known for being a one-punch fight finisher, but he says, his power has improved.

Sugar Ray Leonard said that he’s heard through the grapevine that Brewer’s pop is improved, but overall, he’s leaning toward Forbes in the finale.

“I think he wants it the most,” SRL told TSS. “He talks about that. When and if he wins, he knows there will be more to come. He says we’ll get to see the true Steve Forbes. This will propel him to stardom, he feels.”

“I give the edge in experience and talent to Forbes,” said Leonard, who came off as a trusted confidante and mentor to the gang of 16 that started the second season. “Grady is very fast, with an unorthodox style. He’s a tough cookie. But Forbes  has great hand speed. He has it all.”

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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