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Articles of 2006

Boxing's looking good, but crime's a problem

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If ever a fight deserved a rematch it was the WBC International strawweight title fight between the champion from the Philipines, Gabriel Puma, and the South Africa's Zukisani Kwayiba on Friday night at the Nasrec indoor arena. The fight was stopped by ringside doctors after the ninth round, because Puma's corner could not stop the bleeding from a bad cut on the champion's left eyelid. The cut looked to be caused by an accidental headbutt in the eighth round, but the referee ruled the cut was caused by a punch. While it should perhaps have gone to the scorecards, Kwayiba was awarded a win by TKO. I did have the challenger slightly ahead, but a TD would give a better reflection and look better on Puma's record than a TKO.

Going into this bout Puma was 9-0-1 (6KO) and Kwayiba was 9-0 (5KO), both are twenty years old and have similar styles. Puma defeated another South African in Tsepho Lafele to win the title via the short route in March of this year and enjoyed a #12 rating in the WBC, #15 by the WBA and #13 by WBO. From the outset both men threw caution to the wind and went at each other with abandon. Both landed sensational blows to each other's heads, with Puma unloading more and landing with everything he had in the first round. The second round was more even with both men moving fast and landing solid blows on each other. Rounds three and four saw the challenger getting more blows through, but the champion came back stronger in the fifth and sixth rounds and was attacking with a vengeance at the bell.

Kwayiba slowed the fight down in the seventh round, controlling the middle of the ring and only throwing quick left and rights when the champion came forward. Although both fighters continued to launch and land explosive punches to each other's jaws, neither man really looked to be in any serious trouble. The fight remained eagerly contested right up to the 8th round when the deep cut was opened on the champion's eyelid. With blood streaming from the cut, Puma showed tremendous heart and class by still holding his own in the ninth. Given the severity of the wound it was surprising that the bout was allowed to continue into the ninth round, but it was a great pity that this action-packed spectacle had to end in this way. Both these young guns look to have tremendous potential, but both take way too many punches. Let's hope we get to see Kwayibe – Puma II in the not too distant future, so that the result can be settled in a more satisfying manner.

On a serious and unsporting note, days before his WBC junior bantamweight title elimination fight against Jorge Arce, Hawk Makepula's brother was murdered in Madantsane; now this past week Jo Visagie, the sports program manager for the national broadcaster SABC, was shot during an attempted hijacking outside his home; and former 3 time world champion Dingaan Thobela escaped with his life during another attempted hijacking outside his home just hours before the Visagie shooting. Visagie, has been very close to and involved with the broadcasting of boxing in South Africa for the last 16 years and accepted the WBC award for broadcasting excellence two years ago in Thailand on behalf of SABCSPORT. Visagie was shot in the stomach when he and his wife were confronted by two armed highjackers while leaving their home in Pretoria. Visagie is recovering in hospital and his condition is stable.

“It's very distressing,” says Thobela about his close call. “I arrived outside the gate of my home and fortunately I had left my remote in the house. I called [my wife] Sandra on my cell phone to let me in and then heard somebody trying to open my car door. I looked out the window and saw a guy holding a revolver at my door. Oh my God, I thought. The next thing this guy hit the window with the butt of the revolver. It didn't break and he tried again. I quickly slipped the car into reverse and swung it as I went back, hitting him with the side of the car. I then reversed down the road. He fell to the ground when I bumped him, but still fired some shots at me as I drove away. I knocked a stop sign with the mirror of my car as I reversed and stopped around the corner to see if they were going to give chase. A second man was in a car nearby. I pushed the car into drive and went forward and they gave chase. I was very confused and wasn't sure what was going on. I thought maybe they were police and thought I was somebody else by mistake so decided to drive to a garage or find a police station to see if they wanted to talk to me. I slowed down and turned left down a road, they then turned right and I realized, no they were definitely trying to rob me.

“I had just come from a bank, so it’s possible they saw me drawing cash and followed me. I decided to follow them and I called 10111 (Local 911). I told the operator I was following two armed men who tried to highjack me and they gave me another number to call. I told them they must send backup and they told me to call another number. Sandra had also called 10111 when she saw what was happening at the gate. I followed the car for quite some time, but when I realized the police were not going to help me, I decided to stop following them and to go home – after all these guys had a gun. If I had had my remote and these guys had managed to get inside my property before the gate closed, I don't know what would have happened. Fortunately my car has bulletproof windows, that's why I was able to drive away and not worry about them shooting at me. It was a very upsetting experience and have taken a few days to stabilize my emotions.”

This is the second time Thobela has come face to face with armed robbers. Back in 1989, before he had won any world title, but was holding the national junior lightweight crown, he had been living in a small outside room at his uncle’s house. His car (an Opel Boss) was parked in the street at the time. Awaking from a nap during the day by someone calling outside, Thobela walked out to see what was happening. There he found a group of men trying to break into his car. Startled by his arrival, one of the men pointed a revolved at him. Fortunately one of the gang recognized him and said, “Wait, don't shoot him. He's the Rose of Soweto.” The criminals apologized for trying to steal his car and left. Last week however, the would-be hijackers did not recognize him, or if they did they did not care.

Thobela makes his long awaited return to the ring on October 27th when he challenges Soon Botes for the national light heavyweight title.

While the majority of South Africans are peace loving people, incidents of violent crime are prevalent in the country, are indiscriminate and completely unacceptable. Many people are afraid of going out at night, but keep in mind, both of the above failed hijackings took place in broad daylight in residential areas. Another great boxing talent, Msukisi Sikali, was stabbed to death last year in another random act of violence. Boxing has its problems, but if crime is not addressed it matters little what the sport does, as people will be afraid to go to the venues. Bear in mind that South Africa is the host nation of the 2010 soccer world cup, the largest global event bar the Olympic Games. There are already bad taste jokes going around that international visitors are in for a surprise as they will be open to being robbed, raped and murdered. Some say the media blows these incidents way out of proportion, and perhaps that's true, but as far as I'm concerned even one murder, one rape, one theft is too much. Perhaps one should ask the families of the victims if the media is blowing the loss of their loved ones out of proportion. My thoughts and prayers go to the Visagie and Makepula families at this time.

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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