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Articles of 2006

Weighing The Weekend Wagers

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Saturday was a great night for boxing fans with four big bouts on tap for aficionados, as Showtime and HBO did their part to both help and hinder the sport. Weekends like the one that just passed are great for fights fans and the networks made it happen, but the fact that other weekends go by with little or no action and then Showtime and HBO force us to choose between fights on the same night, well, sometimes life just isn't fair I guess. Still, I won't complain, and actually I can't justifiably complain. You see, where I watched the fights on Saturday, we had both cards showing on separate televisions at the same time. If I could manipulate my eyes to work independently from one another I really could have caught every blow.

The four titles that were up for grabs turned into 3½ when Diego Corrales pulled a “Castillo” and forfeited his chance to retain the WBC Lightweight title against Joel “El Cepillo” Casamayor by tipping the scales nearly 5 pounds over the lightweight limit. The irony and hypocrisy aside, it turned into a title fight where only the Cuban Casamayor could leave the ring as champion, and he did. Casamayor took shots at a slightly passive Corrales and did enough in the bout to earn a split decision victory. Whether “Chico” Corrales was drained from the efforts to lose weight or just not “into” the fight due to the disappointment of losing his title on the scales, it wasn't the typical fierce fighter we have come to expect. “El Cepillo” brushed his opponent away by getting the better of the exchanges landing two punches to his opponents one as the fighters faced off for a third time. The judges were split on the decision but Joel Casamayor was the rightful winner on Saturday. A wager on Casamayor to win exactly by Decision paid of big, $425 profit for each $100 risked.

When the betting lines opened for this fight months ago Diego Corrales started off as a -200 favorite with backers of Casamayor getting back +170. The number of rounds was established at 11.5 with bettors laying -110 to bet either Over or Under that total. Casamayor supporters gradually bet the line down to the point where Corrales was a -185 favorite by fight week while the total had been bet slightly Under. Still, Corrales was steady favorite, until the news came in on Friday of his weight problems. It is an interesting debate among gamblers as to how a bettor can interpret the case of a fighter coming in over the weight limit against a fighter who successfully makes weight. In this case, Corrales had two hours to drop two pounds, which is the maximum weight loss that the Nevada Commission would allow the fighter to lose in such a short period. Corrales tried unsuccessfully to lose the weight and came back just a half-pound lighter than before. The parties agreed to go on with the fight with Corrales being fined and having restrictions put in place as to how much weight he could gain before entering the ring. Herein lays the bettor’s dilemma.

If Corrales truly sacrificed his body to the limit in order to try to weigh in at 135 pounds, how much would he have left in the tank on fight night? On the other hand, if Diego didn't torture his body to make the limit and came in much bigger and stronger than his opponent, well, this would definitely play into his favor. We saw a perfect example of this last time that “Chico” was in the ring as Jose Luis Castillo failed to make weight, was much bigger and stronger than Corrales, and subsequently blew out a weakened Corrales in less than four rounds. Bettors seemed to believe Diego Corrales when he claimed that he really worked hard to lose the weight and his body just wouldn't allow it. Taking that position, most bettors leaned to Joel Casamayor having the edge as he would be stronger in the ring if Corrales in fact weakened himself in attempt to beat the scales. The wave of Casamayor backers moved the price on Corrales down to a -170 favorite with the take-back on the Cuban down to +150. The Total rounds stayed much the same as opinion was divided as to whether or not the bout would go the championship distance.

Weight was also a likely going to be a factor on the Corrales-Castillo undercard presented by Showtime when the “Raging Bull” Vic Darchinyan met the “Filipino Bomber” Glenn Donaire as Darchinyan put his IBF and IBO Flyweight titles on the line. Darchinyan, a 5'5″, 112-pound punching monster from Armenia who makes his home in Australia, had put together an amazing string of 21 victories inside the distance in his past 22 fights. The stalking southpaw delivers rocket rights down the middle and carries sleep drops in either hand. His opponent on this night, Donaire, was simply a smaller man despite both tipping the scales at the flyweight limit of 112 pounds. Bettors drove the price on Darchinyan up from -600 to -1000 and hammered the total Under 7.5 rounds from the opening price from laying -120 on the Over 7.5 rounds so much so that by fight time the Under 7.5 cost backers -160.

By the time the fight came around on Saturday, Darchinyan would be close to 5 pounds heavier than his foe and bullied the game Donaire for most of the 6 rounds the bout lasted. Stalking and pressing the entire fight, Darchinyan won a lopsided technical decision – 60-53 on each judge's card – after Donaire turned his back to his opponent in the sixth round and motioned to the ref that he felt his jaw was broken. Referee Tony Weeks ruled the damage to have been caused by an unintentional head butt and thus the cards came out. Darchinyan insists his heavy hands inflicted the damage and will petition the Nevada State Athletic Commission to rule the victory a TKO. Weeks may have got the butt wrong, but gamblers certainly got the bet right and wagers on Darchinyan and the Under both cashed.

The HBO main event between 7' 0″ giant Nicolay Valuev and Monte Barrett likely came down to weight as much as it was determined by skill. The towering Russian WBA champion pushed and pulled the game challenger across the ring for much of the eleven rounds the bout lasted as the two had sporadic exchanges that were generally decided by heavy shots coming from the “Beast From The East.” Barrett absorbed many thudding blows, most of which were the type that shave the IQ, but he kept putting up enough of a fight to stay in it. Valuev was a solid -600 favorite to retain the title he won against John Ruiz, and that price moved little as bettors and fans alike were more curious than anything to see the beast. The Sportsbooks were split on the Total Rounds that the fight would last as some offered the Over/Under at 9.5 rounds and laying -110 either way, while others had it at 10.5 rounds and had Under bettors lay -150 to go Under that number or take back +130 if they bet the Over. Regardless of which total was wagered on, only the Over bettors cashed on this proposition. The exact outcome wager of Valuev by KO, TKO or DQ was the favored outcome at -165, and correctly so.

Clearly the best bout of the entire night was another rematch, this one between Tomasz Adamek of Poland and rugged Australian Paul Briggs. The two battled last year for the vacant WBC Light Heavyweight title in a bout that Adamek escaped with a majority decision over twelve heated rounds. The rematch was much of the same as Adamek, viewed as the superior boxer in the bout, overcame some tense moments to edge out the harder hitting Briggs by split decision. Adamek was installed a slight -160 favorite while Briggs backers got +140. The total rounds was set at 11.5 with the Over favored -160. The two were both solid punchers but the fact that they had already gone the distance helped dictate the Over being favored. From the opening bell it was a battle between Adamek's accurate jab and laser right hand countered by Briggs overhand rights and whistling left hooks. The Pole opened the bout peppering his foe with jabs and searing rights before being deposited on the seat of his pants by a perfect counter left hook. It was going to be that kind of night, and it was an exhilarating bout. Both fighters were cut and bloody but continued to give everything they had for each of the twelve rounds. In the end Adamek was awarded for his clean accurate shots for a close split decision win. Both fighters deserve full marks for doing battle a second time and each should take some time off to recover from an exhausting fight.

Noteworthy: Wandee Singwangcha of Thailand won the fight but lost his WBC interim title to the scales in advance of his showdown in Japan against Munetsugo Kayo this weekend. Singwangcha was almost three pounds over the 108-pound limit and did not lose any of the excess weight before the fight. Just last month Jorge Rodrigo Barrios couldn't make weight before his WBO Super Featherweight title bout against Joan Guzman. Surely there has to be a way of monitoring fighters’ weights so that pounds are lost in a healthy, controlled manner and bouts are not lost to the scales. The reputation of boxing is one that needs to be cared for. The sport and its warriors should be treated with, and act with, respect. If a fighter simply cannot lose sufficient weight to make a fight, it must be known days before the fight date, not the day before at a public weigh-in. Everyone deserves better.

(For entertainment purposes only)

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

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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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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