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Articles of 2006

Oh, Baby: The Soft Side of Chico the Man

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LAS VEGAS, Oct. 5 – As the wise man Don King once advised, “Don’t believe anything anyone says in boxing.” The rumor was going round the Mandalay Bay Arena that Diego Corrales, who was scheduled to meet with the media there yesterday, was being treated like an illegal immigrant and not someone born in Columbus, S.C., raised in Sacramento and currently residing in this all-American city.

The story was that Chico didn’t have the temporary credentials needed to enter the joint where he will meet Joel Casamayor for a third time this Saturday night.

Why he would need a stinkin’ badge was beyond our comprehension because Corrales’s picture was on the credential he allegedly didn’t have. It was a funny story and just because it was not true should not be held against Chico.

What was held against Corrales, and the reason he was late for his appointment with Kevin Iole, Jeff Haney and moi, was a six-month old cutie named Daylia.

“She tends to work on her own schedule,” said the father of nine. “She has her own agenda.”

His voice was tender, an adjective that would never be ascribed to his ring style. One of the Vegas scribes – whatever national boxing media allowed to wander during the baseball playoffs will probably be in Chicago for King’s freak show with the 7-foot Russian, Nikolai Valuev – asked Corrales about favorite fighters. He immediately mentioned Marvelous Marvin Hagler and his slugfest with John (The Beast) Mugabi.

He called the Beast “a real animal,” but loved the way Hagler “systematically broke him down, he boxed so well, a great jab, a great right hook.”

Hagler, I told him, once refused to visit his wife and newborn daughter in the hospital because he was training for a fight and didn’t want to become “soft” (in truth, the Marvelous One did sneak a peak at his ladies before taking out Caveman Lee in one round).

I thought Corrales was going to cry. He said he had not seen Daylia but for a couple of times in the last few months as he trained in Los Angeles for the still-dangerous Casamayor. He said it was “driving me nuts,” being without wife Michelle and baby Daylia.

“Who I am in the ring is different than who I am outside the ring,” he said. “I’m a borderline schizophrenic. I don’t mind being a soft and kind person. My dad, one of his favorite expressions, was you have to give a little to ask a lot.”

He has become the gentle warrior. His battles with Casamayor, Jose Luis Castillo and Robert Garcia look like they were scripted by Arturo Gatti. Yes, he did prison time for hitting his pregnant first wife, but he seems to have mellowed. He is very close with his kids, though only three live with him and Michelle.

“That’s more than enough,” he said.

“Girls, they’re the best, but they’re going to be dad’s torture later,” he said.

He said his eldest, a 13-year-old girl, called him recently and asked permission to go to a homecoming. Wait a minute, he said. Homecomings are for college and high school. His daughter was in the eighth grade.

She said “it was only a dance.”

“I’m not worried about the dance,” Corrales told her. “I’m worried about after the dance.”

He said it was a case of “been there, done that.”

He hasn’t been doing much in the ring lately. This will be his first fight in 364 days, or since his fourth-round knockout by the overweight Jose Luis Castillo. That was in the rematch of their classic fight-of-the-millennium get-together four months earlier, when he was knocked down twice in the tenth round, only to get up and stop Castillo.

He was supposed to have a rubber match with Castillo, but again the former lightweight champion couldn’t make the 135-pound limit and Corrales refused to put himself at risk again fighting a bigger man who did weaken his body to accommodate the scales.

He didn’t think he had any old business remaining with Casamayor. But last July, the Cuban exile called him out when Corrales wound up doing commentary for Casamayor’s lackluster victory over Lamont Pearson.

That will not be the same Casamayor he will face Saturday on Showtime. He knows that, hell, he’s looking forward to having another scrape. It’s what makes him a future hall of famer. He said it wasn’t up to him to decide whether he got into Canastota, “but I don’t care what they call me, I had a great career and I love my job.”

There’s been a lot of trash talk echoing between the camps. Casamayor may well be trying to make sure Corrales is angry enough to abandon his more careful boxing style that he used so well in the second fight. Corrales figures that.

“The first time me and Cas fought, it was a war,” he said. The war was called after Casamayor had knocked him down twice and he had returned the favor once in only six rounds. Corrales was bleeding like a pig after Casamayor punched a hole in his mouth with the assistance of a faulty, non-fitting mouthpiece.

Corrales felt he was one more right hand from ending it in his favor. Thing is, Casamayor was one left hand away from the opposite. Thing was, Corrales was surprised somewhat by the 1992 Olympic champion and former WBA junior lightweight titlist, “how sharp he was then – but that’s how sharp I am to him now.”

Casamayor’s trainer then, Joe Goossen, and the Cuban parted company and for the second fight Goossen emerged in Corrales’s corner. Maybe it wasn’t quite the same as Leo Durocher leaving the Dodgers to manage the Giants, but the impact on the two sides was perhaps more telling.

The southpaw Casamayor, however, was still able to drop Corrales with one of his hard and straight left hands. That gives him three knockdowns to one in their rivalry.

“But he was hurt bad,” said Corrales in his defense.

Casamayor said “everybody knows he doesn’t have a chin, but one thing he does is get back up.”

With all the verbiage making the rounds in the prefight hype, there is the respect for each other that two fighters will grudgingly give after a couple of brawls.

“He’s tough because he’s a southpaw and he’s very good at fighting that way,” said Corrales. “He has very good hand speed, but it’s his accuracy that is great. He’s very sharp.”

Goossen said the second fight he showed Corrales how to avoid certain things “and Joel’s accuracy wasn’t as great.” Corrales is the 2-1 favorite (the buy-back odds on Casamayor are $1.70 to $1). That seems a little high, especially since Corrales is coming off his two brutal fights with Castillo and hasn’t fought in a year. On the other hand, the 29-year-old champion – I think this is for his WBC belt, though it’s really for the real, true lightweight championship – said the break left his abused body refreshed.

Casamayor is 35 and though he hasn’t looked good this year while scoring knockouts over Antonio Ramirez and Lamont Pearson – and last year was held to a draw by the crude Almazbek (Kid Diamond) Raiymkulov – great fighters don’t always get up for small fights. This is it for his career. It should be a great event, there’s a raw but exciting flyweight champion, Vic Darchinyan, in the co-feature, defending against Glenn Donaire, and this is a “free” weekend where the premium cable network, Showtime, is showing off its programming to entice new subscribers.

MEANWHILE…: On HBO, the current drek continues to flow. Okay, there’s a rematch of last year’s war between Tomasz Adamek and Paul Briggs (I doubt if it’ll be so good this time around), but Nikolai Valuev and Monte Barrett is probably no better than the last crap I saw on that formerly No. 1 boxing network. The walk-ins were better than the fight, certainly a hell of a lot longer. Jorge Arce riding to the ring sucking on a red lollipop, wearing a cowboy hat and riding on the back of Harley outdid his overmatched challenger, Hawk Makepula, who sang some religious chant that took longer than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Makepula made it only to the fourth round, and that’s because Arce had picked that round – he probably could have ended the mismatch a lot sooner….But look at some of the other shows coming up to challenge the skills of Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant to stay awake – like Joe Calzaghe vs. someone named Sakio Bika, Juan Manuel Marquez vs. something named Jaca (on pay-per-view, no less), Winky Wright vs. the long-in-the-tooth Ike Quartey, and can we wait until next year’s Ricky Hatton-Juan Urango thriller? What is going on over on Sixth Avenue? I can’t believe they miss Lou DiBella that much.

PENTHOUSE: This is personal, so skip to the more interesting OUTHOUSE below, but I have to give thanks to David Tua, who kindly supplied me with wheels yesterday. The Tuaman has a fight lined up for Nov. 3 on a Cedric Kushner card and hopefully, a couple of more tune-ups will get him ready to re-enter the heavyweight fray. However, I fear that he is just too nice a guy for this business.

OUTHOUSE: Where do we start? Don King for using the 7-foot-2 (or maybe only 7-foot-flat) Nikolai Valuev to help raise money for the Republican party is one choice. King has made sure no GOP attorney general will ever look into his business again, so I’m hoping the Democrats, whoever they are, get into power. Supporting George Bush and his war should be a hanging offense….Sterling MacPherson, who once was a Don King fighter and then a Don King flunkey (until the promoter angrily accused him of trying to steal Mike Tyson), has crawled from under his rock with Tyson in tow for a “world tour” of exhibitions. There are already scheduled stops in Australia and China, but the world begins Oct. 20 in Youngstown, Ohio. It is of course sad that Tyson can think of no better way to start paying off his debts, but I am reminded of what Iran (The Blade) Barkley once told me when I asked him how he was preparing for his post-boxing career: “I’m going to rob your house,” he said. At least Tyson is not mugging people or picking pockets and if there are suckers out there willing to pay $25 to watch him sweat, so be it. They can probably find friends at auctions to buy Pete Rose confessional baseballs. What is really criminal, though, is the use of longtime sparring partner Corey (T-Rex) Sanders (not the Corrie Sanders from South Africa who knocked out Wladimir Klitschko, but the one from Maryland who once knocked out Oleg Maskaev). Sanders has been fighting maybe eight years with one eye and I don’t care if it is only an “exhibition” with pulled punches, pillowed gloves and headgear, he should not be doing this for a living and Ohio – the very state that King helped carry for Bush in 2004 – should be kicked out of the union if it allows this to happen….I first visited the beautiful town of Dubrovnik, on the spectacular Dalmation Coast, in 1967 and later on I made sure to take my bride to the medieval walled city. My first trip, I saw Tito and the Shah of Iran walking arm in arm on the way to the local casino. Now in Croatia, Dubrovnik will host the WBC convention this month and Jose Sulaiman has invited Tyson to attend so the organization can “extend a special tribute to one of the greatest heavyweight champions in history, regardless of what others might say.” Kind of chokes you up, doesn’t it?

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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