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Articles of 2006

Contender 2 Finale: Underdog Brewer Takes The Prize

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The time has come. The reality is real for Steve Forbes and Grady Brewer, the reality show is done.

It sounds like the Staples Center is jumping for the Contender 2 finale.

Away we go…

Did I hear right? The singer of our anthem’s name is Storm Large? Indeed, I Googled her, and she’s fresh off the reality program Supernova. Good pipes, bad name…

Get the paddles ready for the ring announcer: bless him, he’s blessed with monster lungs, but I fear he’ll have a stroke as he announces Nito Bravo’s name.

Whew…exhale…no stroke or heart attack. Good deal.

Bravo and K9, not a fan fave, are battling first for the bronze. It’s scheduled for eight. Tess and Teddy are calling the action. Scheduled for eight…

Damn, on Aug. 6, K9’s sister Denise was murdered. Condolences from TSS go out to Bundrage…

Hey, nice that they put the other Contenders in the front row, and didn’t relegate them to the upper reaches of the joint. Or make them do a challenge for the right to a good seat. Sponsored by Toyota, of course…

Bundrage stands up like an 80s era Euro fighter. Bend that spine son, it’s OK, it’s permissible in the rulebook…

K9’s jab is improved, looks to me. K9 gets a knockknock at the end of the second. His eyes look OK in the corner. The ref  tells him to show something in between rounds…

“Boxing gives an opportunity and a life to these young men,” Atlas reminds the abolitionists…

Bravo looks 35, every minute of it. K9 has the edge in strength and vitality.

Bravo’s jab is listless.

Steve Forbes is in his dressing room and checks in with the boys. He’s got a sweat up and BK informs us and asks Forbes if he knows that if there’s a draw, we’ll go to an extra round. They do that on the UFC reality show on Spike. Do purists beef with that? Big whup, the times they are a changin’. The times aren’t changing for Bravo; he’s still taking punishment and looks like he just doesn’t have it on this night. Bad timing. Aging has a way of insuring that off nights happen more frequently than they used to.

Joe T comments on the K9 improved jab, too…

Six rounds in, still haven’t seen the Ballettos interact. A pet peeve—undimmed house lights. I don’t have ADD or anything but I often end up studying the people in the front rows. It’s worse when they show Ali-Wepner from Cleveland and all the pimp daddies are in da house…I digress, forgive me…perhaps I do have ADD…what was I saying?

K9 is getting rough and the ref don’t like it…

Doesn’t matter. A poor but brave performance by Bravo, Teddy says, as the ref steps in and stops it in the seventh round. Stop comes at 2:22. K9 postures to the crowd and some boo. He got the Contender bronze. Good stop by ref Russell.

Hey, it’s a Rocky Balboa sneak preview. BK does a voiceover! AJ Benza appears! I’m in! They got my $10.50, no doubt!

K9 (24-2) talks to the boys. His son stands in front of him. Tess talks about his sister’s murder, and he says he’s happy to win for his sis and he’s so pumped to be in the co-main event. I found my identity, K9 tells Teddy and Atlas agrees.

On to the main event, with $500,000 going to the winner, minus the IRS cut. I haven’t heard of anyone picking Brewer. Where are the contrarians?

Whoa, solid product placement. Forbes and Grady visit the Toyota plant, as the Contender theme plays. Brewer will give the car to his rents if he wins it, he says. Seamless!

We get an intro to the finalists.

Brewer works in a tire plant, we’re told. But now he’s able to train properly so he promises a different fighter than the guy who has lost 11 bouts.  Forbes says he’ll make Grady take risks.

Forbes is next. He says he’s small but solid. It’s not the meat it’s the motion, right? Brewer says he’s bigger, stronger, faster.

Next, some commercials. My TiVo is caught up, so I’m watching the commercials. First time in awhile. How long before most people have a DVR and the advertising model has to change, and everything is a product placement inserted into the program or flashed onscreen during the show? Sorry, my ADD again. Feel free to ignore my sidebars as you would an ad…

Forbes strolls to the ring first. The theme plays. Did I forget to tell you I played that at my wedding? Yes, we appeared as husband and wife as the Rocky theme played…The wedding facility maitre d’ suggested it and the DJ had the CD, so I said what the hey.

Brewer comes in next. The hood of his robe is too large and covers his eyes. How often do we see that? Pet peeve No. 2…

Ring announcer will bellow again and fingers are crossed he doesn’t clutch his chest.

Both guys weight 149.

Forbes is 32-3. Tommy G is in his corner, whispering calming, inspirational nothings.

Brewer is 21-11.

Whew, the ring announcer made it through without the paddles having to come out. Good deal.

In the first, the two try to figure out rhythms and ponder openings. Brewer doesn’t look overwhelmed by the stakes.  Forbes is slick defensively. Pretty tight round, nothing conclusive landed. Punchstats show an edge for Brewer, though.

In the second, Grady lands some rights. Forbes wows the crowd and the judges with a left hook. Brewer outworks Forbes.

On to the third. Brewer has a nice game plan going. He’s moving smartly and he looks like the more youthful, energized man. But Forbes has done this dance many, many times. Perhaps the vet is just letting his joints warm up, assessing his foe, luring the less experienced man into deep, dangerous water, letting him think he has a functional life preserver, which he’ll yank away from him down the river. Teddy sees it Brewer, 29-28 to this point.

On to four. More hugging this round. Tight round. Nothing clean and obvious scored in obvious fashion.

We go to five. Sergio Mora’s in the booth. Forbes tosses a hard right. Again, too much clinching. Forbes is fighting Grady’s fight: it ain’t pretty and Forbes needs to use his feet, get angles. That’s hard, Brewer charges at you, tossing as he charges.

In between, Mora discusses the bout with the voices. He says Forbes will show something big late.

In the sixth, Grady ties to establish the jab. Atlas says 49-47 Brewer to this point.  The smaller man, Forbes, looks lost as he’s enveloped into Brewer’s bulk. 107-70 edge for Brewer in punches landed to this point. Brewer ain’t pretty, but he’s pretty effective. The crowd agrees on the former point—they boo some.

Where’s Gallagher in-between rounds? Is this the same production crew that worked the series? I doubt it, because they know Tommy’s gold in-between rounds.

Ah, here we go. “It’s crunch time now,” G says.

“Steve, you need to get busy,” his wife says.

On to seven.  Atlas likes Brewer, 59-56 so far. It’s inside fighting and Brewer imposes his will and size on the smaller guy. Forbes needs to get angles but Grady is too pesky and in his face. Teddy agrees. “No mobility shown tonight,” is his take on Forbes. But to me it’s more a function of Grady’s energy and size. A spirited trade ends the round.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints looks like a good flick, or the trailer looks good, with that KISS song, NY Groove, being used smartly to entice me…

We kick off the eighth. Time’s a wasting for Forbes. Production has dropped the ball with no Gallagher, but I get it, this is a business and they have to show ads. This fight is not a pleasant melding of styles for the fan, I will say that. More boos from the fans. Do we still call them fans when they boo? The customers, we’ll call them. The disapproving customers. Teddy talks about the silent contract for the first time. Not a good style matchup, too bad.

It’s time for nine. Who will show the urgency that’s called for? 78-75 Brewer is Teddy’s call to this point. “A lot of nondescript rounds,” Atlas says. Brewer pops the jab. And they hug. “Not a lot of action the last several rounds,” Atlas says, disapprovingly. Can we allow the IRS to take a bigger cut as punishment? Grady lands a left. Forbes flails badly. Grady raises his hand post-round.

Gallagher says they need the round, “this fight is even.” He tells Forbes to get correct distance. Atlas busts on Gallagher’s swearing, which is dumped anyway. “Forbes may need the round but we did not need that language,” he says. Tess doesn’t react at all. Lot of water under that bridge, people. Teddy slams Tommy in his book…

The tenth and final round. “Who will grab it?” Tess asks. Brewer’s clumsy charges are to his advantage. The well schooled Forbes hasn’t seen this sort of style in years. Forbes flurries, too little, too late, IMO. We’ll see. Boxing judges have been known to hand in cards that bear no relation to reality, I call them Richard Flahertys.

Brewer thinks he has it, Gallagher looks bummed.

Misfire. The broadcast runs overtime. Luckily, I taped the show after this one.

The scores are in: 97-93 Brewer,  96-94 Forbes and the tiebreaker is 96-94 for the new Contender champion…and my TiVo cut out.

Blast this newfangled technology!

I had to press play on the next show, which is SportsCenter, to find out that Grady Brewer gets the dough. A split decision win.

BK interviews the combatants after Leonard congratulates Brewer and hands him the Contender belt.

The two hug it out, which is sort of fitting, since they clinched quite a bit.

Grady thanks God, and he says he will work harder, and establish himself like SRL did. He thanks the Contender for the opportunity. Hey, he’s 35 and works 12 hour shifts in a tire factory, good for Grady. Fight kind of sucked but I say it again, it was the clash of styles more than anything.

Forbes talks to BK. He’s bummed but accepting. “He fought a perfect game plan,” Forbes said. “I thought it was a very close fight and thought it could have gone either way. I thought I won the fight but everybody is entitled to their opinion and he fought a hell of a fight.”

He did fight a smart fight.

It wasn’t a hell of a fight, but it was an effective strategy, and that’s why Grady Brewer is the Contender 2 champion.

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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