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Articles of 2006

Boxing Debuts, Auspicious and Otherwise

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There is nothing like starting at the top in boxing. Getting on top is a different matter.

In 1975, Rafael Lovera of Paraguay got knocked out in the fourth round by 37-year-old Luis Estaba of Venezuela in a bid for the vacant WBC light flyweight title at Caracas. It reportedly was discovered later that Lovera was making his pro debut. Obviously, it was another top job by the WBC rankings committee. I could find no other fights for Lovera before or after he fought Estaba, who did not turn pro until he was 28. He was 28-7-2 when he became champion.

Pete Rademacher went after boxing’s biggest prize in 1957 when the 1956 Olympic champion made his pro debut in a challenge to world champion Floyd Patterson in Sick’s Stadium at Seattle. Rademacher knocked down Patterson in the second round, then got knocked down six times before getting knocked out in the seventh round.

“The experts, of course, were predicting that this lopsided match couldn’t go more than the first punch or the first round – two at the most,” Patterson wrote (with Milton Gross) in his 1962 autobiography “Victory Over Myself.” “I got hit with a right hand in the second and I did go down. It wasn’t a slip, but I was more embarrassed that hurt by the knockdown. They tell me I grinned on the canvas. I didn’t know that. All I knew was an amateur had knocked me down and I had better start putting a stop to the foolishness.”

Rademacher fought until 1962 and posted a 15-7-1 record, with eight knockouts. In his first fight after Patterson, he was knocked out in the fourth round by Zora Foley. In his last bout, he scored a 10-round decision over former middleweight champion Bobo Olson, who had puffed himself up to 181 pounds.

Patterson, the 1952 Olympic middleweight champion, made a less ballyhooed pro debut than Rademacher. Weighing 164½ pounds, the 17-year-old Patterson knocked out Eddie Godbold (3-12-1) in the fourth round of scheduled six-round preliminary bout in 1952 at St. Nicholas Arena in New York City.

At least Patterson’s debut drew the attention of the New York-based media. Four other great fighters turned pro in virtual obscurity.

In 1935, 19-year-old Archie Moore knocked out Billy Sims in the second round at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Poplar Bluff, Ark. I found this fight listed only on Boxrec.com, and it was noted it probably was a semi-pro match. Moore’s official pro debut was second-round knockout of Poco Kid (record unavailable), a six-round KO of Murray Allen (0-3-0) or a six-round decision over Allen in 1936, depending on what record you look at. On Dec. 17, 1951, Moore would win the light heavyweight championship on 15-round decision over Joey Maxin in his 170th pro fight..

Al Iovino evened his record at 1-1-0 with a third-round knockout over 18-year-old Henry Armstrong, making his pro debut, in scheduled four-round featherweight bout on a show in the Meyers Bowl at North Braddock, Pa., in 1931. Six years and 90 fights later, Armstrong would knock out featherweight champion Petey Sarron and win the first of three world titles he would hold simultaneously.

In 1947, heavyweight Lee Epperson, who had a good amateur career and was considered a solid  prospect, made his pro debut in a scheduled four-round bout against a wild-swinging opponent, also turning pro, in the Valley Arena at Holyoke, Mass.. In the third round Epperson was knocked out by Rocco Marchegiano, fighting as Rocky Mack to protect his amateur status. The victory was the first of 49 in 49 fights for the man who would reap fame as Rocky Marciano. Marciano’s first purse was $35. He also used the name Rocky Mack because it sounded vaguely Irish and the fight was St, Patrick’s Day. He could have fought as Rocky O’Brien and he would have fooled no one into thinking he was Irish.

Larry Holmes was 23 when he rode to Scranton, Pa., with Ernie Butler, who had trained him an amateur, for his pro debut –a four-round heavyweight bout against Rodell Dupree (2-2-0) in 1973 in the Catholic Youth Center. Holmes won a decision, collected $69, and to celebrate he went home with one of the two busloads of fans from Easton. Holmes would become a sparring partner for Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton and Joe Frazier before beginning a seven-year reign as a heavyweight champion in 1978…

Three amateur stars who would have gotten national attention for their pro debuts if there had been television were Joe Louis, Willie Pep and Sugar Ray Robinson.

Louis was 19 when he knocked out Jack Kracken (10-8-0) in the first round of a scheduled six-round bout at Bacon Casino on Chicago’s South Side. The purse was $59 for the man, who would make 25 successful defenses of the heavyweight championship before he retired.

Pep was 17 when he scored a four-round decision over James McGovern in 1940 at Hartford, Conn. He would outpoint Chalky Wright for the featherweight title in his 54th fight in 1942.

McGovern apparently also was making his pro debut.

The last paragraph of the New York Times’ account of Fritzie Zivic’s decision upset of Henry Armstrong for the welterweight title in 1940 read: “Ray Robinson, 134½, Harlem Negro, who won the Golden Gloves lightweight crown last Spring,  made his professional debut in the opening four-rounder and stopped Joe Echevarria, 132,  Puerto Rican, in 51 seconds of the second frame.” Robinson, who was 19, would win the welterweight championship in his 76th fight on a decision over Tommy Bell in 1946. He also would win the middleweight title five times. Echevarria’s record was 3-15-4.

A Sugar Ray who got a televised sendoff as a pro in 1977 was Ray Leonard, the 1976 Olympic light welterweight champion. On a card in which Ralph Palladin outpointed Angel Robinson Garcia in 10 rounds, the 20-year-old Leonard got $40,000 for scoring a six-round decision over Luis Vega (8-11-2) in the Civic Arena at Baltimore. Leonard would win titles in five weight classes

Another Olympic champion who made his pro debut on a televised show was George Foreman, who won the heavyweight title at the 1968 games in Mexico City. The 20-year-old Foreman stopped Don Waldheim (5-4-2) in the third-round of a scheduled six-round match on a card featuring Joe Frazier’s seventh-round knockout of Jerry Quarry in 1969 at Madison Square Garden. Foreman would win the heavyweight title twice, the second time becoming at age 45 the oldest man ever to win the championship.

Television treatment also was given to the pro debuts of six members of the U.S. boxing team that dominated the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, which were boycotted by Cuba, the Soviet Union and most of the Eastern Bloc nations. Winning scheduled six-round bouts in Madison Square Garden in 1984 were welterweight Mark Breland, lightweights Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker, heavyweight Tyrell Biggs, middleweight Virgil Hill and light heavyweight Evander Holyfield. All but Biggs became world champions.

National media attention was focused on Freedom Hall at Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 29, 1960, as Cassius Clay, who won the Olympic light heavyweight title at Rome earlier in the year, turned pro as a heavyweight in the six-round main event. The 18-year-old Clay won a decision over Tunney Hunsaker (13-9-0). “I’m honored, highly honored, to have been the first person Muhammad Ali fought in his professional career . . . The kids here (Fayetteville, W.Va., where he was police chief) know who Muhammad Ali is, so they know who I am too,” Hunsaker said in “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times,” a 1991 book by Thomas Hauser. Ali would become a three-time champion.

Fans who turned up at Convention Hall in Philadelphia for Stanley “Kitten” Hayward’s majority 10-round decision over Rodolfo Marshal on Aug. 16, 1965, also got a brief glimpse at Joe Frazier, making his pro debut one year after winning the heavyweight title at 1964 Olympics. The 21-year-old Frazier needed 102 seconds to stop Woody Gross (2-2), a substitute for a substitute.

Frazier must have wondered if winning a gold medal was worth the effort. “The deal went like this: The promoter gave us a number of tickets to sell and said: ‘Whatever you sell, you keep.’ That was how Olympic gold medalist Joe Frazier got paid for his pro debut,”  Frazier said in “Smokin’ Joe: The Autobiography (with Phil Berger),” published in 1996. Frazier said his cut was $125. Frazier would gain recognition on undisputed champion by beating Ali in 1971.

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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