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Articles of 2006

Final Acts of Bravery and Desperation



When boxing fans fixate over the possibility of Bernard Hopkins trying his hand at a heavyweight brass ring or Mike Tyson’s next boogieman ring return or why Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko should finally reenact the last classic heavyweight thriller for the sake of ‘normalizing’ the symbolic status of boxing’s elite division, well, they are neglecting the possibilities right in front of them.

No doubt, world boxing today, in many aspects, lacks the ability to maximize the case for its commercial and theatrical relevance as sporting entertainment. As a sporting spectacle, boxing’s impact has been miniaturized and marginalized within a culture awash with the excessive graphic violence of cinematic and virtualized production. What boxing historically gave to urbanized (global) culture was a ritualizing of  person to person combat as sporting achievement, a semi-regulated bloodletting theater where tactical enterprise, brutish necessity and athletic domination was contested as a big business of often intoxicating fatalism. Romanticism met pragmatism whenever boxers found access to money and notoriety beyond what they could have reasonably dreamed possible caught up in the welter and desperation of the ghetto, barrio or slum, those hell’s kitchens of depravity.

Born into the absolute margins of social, ethnic and/or religious backgrounds came forward passionate, emboldened men and women to partake, suffer, achieve and fail in this athletic lottery manifest as a prolonged series of martial encounters for money, fame and dignity. This was boxing’s tempting myth of strife as access, survival as possibility, and for decades it fed the business of grassroots boxing, club boxing. Television turned local boxing into regional and national programmed packaging, the fighters recast for exposure as product as much as competing athletes. In the West, modern boxing had only the melodramatics of professional wrestling; media sensationalized gangsterism, and the serialized ethos of the Old West, as paralleling formulations of situational violence.

Having crossed over the millennial divide, postmodern culture radiates violence and conflict as high definition normality. From video games to Ultimate Fighting to family vehicles designed as urban assault vehicles – The Hummer – to the manifest status of our political time ‘The War on Terror,’ living within Western Culture means being actively compliant with the trappings and conditions of conflict as environment. If boxing was and remains a Darwinian jungle – save for the initiatives of transparency of Lou DiBella and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, notably – then it has also been swallowed whole by the day to day exigencies of living in the post-modernized world of contained threats and looming apocalyptic scenarios.

Sensitive to the calamitous times we now find ourselves living in, one is tempted to say, “Boxing may be the red light district… but man, it’s CRAZY out here!”

Yet the promotional product, the satellite signal, the cable fed melodrama that championship boxing survives as – devalued internally by the politics of regulatory relativism and editorial diffidence – manages to produce gems of sustaining brilliance in the careers of legends such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe, to name but a glittering few. Complaining about the mediocrity of the heavyweight division comes so easily, casting such a stain over global boxing that we forget just how mesmerizing some of our greatest fighters are, in this age beyond the historical mantel of the heavyweight championship.

For there is no heavyweight championship; therefore there cannot truly be a heavyweight champion. The unanimity of consenting affirmation that once made possible the status of a fighter being universally understood as ‘the heavyweight champion of the world’ cannot exist today. In fact it’s been that way for decades. Even the reign of Lennox Lewis was rife with accusations of fraud, his claims to universal recognition challenged in court by promoters, managers and opponents, on television airwaves across the globe, his legitimacy vilified over the internet via a torrent of disclaiming attack and critical critique.

With the climate of instantaneous litigation, contractual relativism and conflicts of interest excused as business as usual, the entire structure of determination for the heavyweight championship has become a theater of the absurd, championship belts multiplied almost at will, the standing of a ‘championship reign’ a temporary honorarium for professional perseverance. We need only mention the name of Oleg Maskaev for our immodest proposal to clarify it.

Understanding the ‘antic hay’ that is the heavyweight division, we can also turn past the fading megalomania of James Toney and Antonio Tarver and the presumption of might making endless right of a now aging Bernard Hopkins to see the true currents of wonderment in boxing. For this fall, the timelines of magnificent men – Manny Pacquiao and Eric Morales – intertwine yet again, the survivor of their rubber match fated to make a thrilling return with Marco Antonio Barrera for what will surely summarize their peerless careers. Sports Illustrated should tell that triangulated and trouble tale of grandeur, grit and greatness, the nova effect of those careers a beacon of what remains noble and particular to the sport of contemporary boxing.

No, we don’t need any lessons in caged aesthetics from the madness of the octagon. Let the ratings, in this sense, be damned! Further, the experiment of making boxing into reality television fare – that over-edited, dystrophic experiment called The Contender – an abortive soap opera simulation of boxing’s dynamical reality can only make the informed boxing fan nauseas. And so we who love boxing must look to the elementary, the tested best of our age. Even as such gilded chapters near their ending. Morales ready to finally decide upon the nature of his last career zealotry against Pacquiao. Promise the firebrand Filipino that Barrera waits as his ultimate reward for ending the legend of Morales and we can only imagine the explosion to come.

Interestingly, the case for Barrera finalizing his own career against Pacquiao was made with thudding urgency by Rocky Juarez and his failed regicide. Now Barrera knows his career must end by facing up to the winner of Pacquiao and Morales; such a perfect geometry of intersecting paths. Undoubtedly, Barrera suspected his rematch with Pacquiao was assured when “The Typhoon” sank Morales January 21, 2006 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Twenty-seven seconds shy of ten rounds, ten rounds of torturous humiliation. And yet that’s the kind of debt Morales would like to pay back, in kind, in treasure and in full measure. Then the pride of Tijuana would have a surprise for his old friend from Jalisco.

Of course, these are not the imaginings of Pacquiao. He’s not sentimental for perfect endings, the stuff of cliché riddled story lines for HBO promos. Pacquiao does nevertheless believe in all sorts of contradictions like magic spells and self-determination and the hand of God descending to defend the honor bound and fighting the perfect fight and that things are meant to be, if you are born to do something for the spirit of an entire people.

Mostly these three great champions understand the risks of acting upon what many would call fate, those final acts of bravery and desperation giving meaning to the struggles for greatness. If only just for the coming season, boxing is in good hands.

And the teaming hoards of the real contenders ply their rough trade far away from the parallaxing eye of video display. Destitute but buoyed by unchecked optimism, young men and women toil and train for the right to be ready to make their case, to fight the fight of their lives at the appointed time, against unimaginable odds.

And somehow beyond the trauma of troubled lives and impinging miseries, unknown figures begin to form habitual routines and innate rhythms suggesting they are the undiscovered heirs to Armstrong, Marciano, Robinson, Ali, Duran and Hopkins. Something timeless promises that they to will have their days of reckoning. And the world will take final notice.

So, all is not lost in boxing, after all.   

(Patrick Kehoe may be reached at

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

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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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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