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Articles of 2006

Boxing and the Law: Weighing In On Jose Luis Castillo

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The weigh-in before the fight is controlled by rules and by ritual. Two men, bare-chested, challenging each other with hard eyes and hard muscles, as each takes his turn stepping on the scale. The weight is made. Biceps are flexed in a show of triumph. It is a moment of drama, the last chance for opponents to take stock of each other, to measure each other, before they meet in the ring.

But the weigh-in, however dramatic, is only prelude. Thousands may have filled the seats of the MGM Grand Garden Arena to watch Oscar De La Hoya and Ricardo Mayorga mount the scale the day before their showdown, but it was the anticipation of what was to come that made the moment meaningful. Both fighters weighed in at half a pound below the junior middleweight limit. Now they could replenish their bodies with food and fluids as they moved forward to fight time.

But it doesn’t always go that way. Sometimes the triumph of making weight is replaced by the hard reality that a fighter, already depleted, already dehydrated, has pounds to lose. For title fights, the overweight fighter is given two hours to shed the excess, and he spends that time jumping rope or jogging in a sweat suit, or enduring the heat of a sauna. These time-tested methods of losing a pound or two usually meet with success.

Usually. On June 2, 2006, when Jose Luis Castillo climbed onto the scale for a second time, two hours after his first trip to the scale, he hadn’t lost an ounce. The scale still read 139½, and a downcast Castillo was out of time and out of a fight. “The War to Settle the Score” was no more, and Castillo was not the only one who felt dejected. Diego Corrales, who had spent 9½ weeks training himself down to the lightweight limit, and who had weighed in at a hungry 135, left with his title but without his purse. More important, he left without the opportunity to prove his mettle in the ring.

The fight’s moniker was reference to the fact that the scheduled June 3 fight was to be the rubber match between Castillo and Corrales. In their first meeting, on May 7, 2005, the two 135-pound warriors went head to head for ten action-packed rounds. In the tenth, Castillo floored Corrales twice, and the end seemed near. It was, but not in a way that anyone expected. Corrales bought himself time when he pulled out and dropped his mouthpiece after the second knockdown, and the seconds it took referee Tony Weeks to issue a one-point deduction simply provided him more time to recover. When action resumed, Corrales used a two-fisted attack to drive Castillo to the ropes, where Castillo appeared to be out on his feet. At 2:06 of the round, Weeks waved off the fight, making Corrales a TKO winner and new owner of the WBC title.

The controversy created by Corrales’ removal of his mouthpiece, the argument that the extra time to recover was unfair to Castillo, prompted calls for a second fight. Of course, the hope for another scintillating slugfest between two skilled warriors also fueled the public’s desire for a rematch. On October 8, 2005, they met again. This time controversy came before the fight, the day before, when Castillo failed to make weight. Three trips to the scale did not help as Castillo weighed 138½ each time. One of his team, Dr. Armando Barak, had his license revoked for placing his foot under the scale in an attempt to turn the too-heavy Castillo into a lightweight. And Castillo himself lost $120,000 (10% of his $1.2 million purse) and his chance to compete for the WBC title by failing to make the 135-pound limit. Castillo blamed the 3½ pounds on a rib injury he suffered ten days earlier, which he says did not allow him to train. But the extra weight proved to be an advantage for Castillo as he overpowered Corrales, knocking him out with a big left hook 47 seconds into the fourth round.

Castillo’s weight problems set the storyline for the rubber match, and set the conditions for the June 2 weigh-in. If Castillo did not make weight on his first attempt, he would be fined a minimum of 25% of his purse – $225,000 out of $900,000 – by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. An additional $175,000 fine was written into his Showtime contract. Even the WBC got into the picture by undertaking to monitor Castillo’s weight leading up to the fight. In the end, none of these measures worked. And Castillo’s assurances that he would make weight deteriorated into a weak apology to the champion when he came in 4½ pounds over the lightweight limit.

The apology did nothing to erase Corrales’ still fresh memory of a bigger, stronger Castillo dominating him in their second fight. Citing concern for his safety, Corrales made the reasonable decision not to fight.

The much-anticipated bout was canceled, and the ugly business of legal and disciplinary action began. Corrales and his promoter Gary Shaw filed a lawsuit against Castillo and his promoter, Top Rank. The suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. Corrales is demanding $1.2 million, the amount of the purse he would have earned had he fought Castillo as scheduled, and an additional $10 million in punitive damages. Shaw seeks $750,000, his anticipated profit from the fight, and $10 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages, as the name suggests, are meant to punish the wrongdoer, and are appropriate where the person being sued is guilty of malicious or willful misconduct. Given Castillo’s failure to make weight in their second fight, and the fact that he did not come close to making the 135 pounds called for by the bout agreement, Corrales and Shaw may have a good argument that defendant Castillo deserves to be punished.

While lawsuits tend to languish in the courts, the Nevada State Athletic Commission moved quickly to discipline Castillo. The Commission fined Castillo $250,000, the maximum allowed by its rules, and suspended the boxer for the remainder of 2006. When Castillo does return to the ring, at least a ring in Nevada, he will not be permitted to fight at less than 140 pounds – a measure of discipline that Castillo certainly welcomes.

The World Boxing Council, which had sanctioned the bout, weighed in with its own self-serving statement following the cancellation of the fight. The statement attempts to cast blame on the boxers, their camps, the promoters and the Nevada State Athletic Commission – in short, everybody else – in connection with Castillo coming in overweight, and to whitewash the actions of the WBC. WBC President Jose Sulaiman speaks about WBC Rule 4.6, a rule that calls for “safety weigh-ins” thirty days and seven days prior to the fight. The rule, instituted in 1997, is intended to address the safety concerns involved in a boxer losing too much weight in too short a period of time, certainly an admirable goal. However, it is unclear whether compliance with the rule is mandatory or simply recommended (“the WBC expects extra official weigh-ins to be held”). Moreover, the language of the rule is inexact – a boxer’s weight cannot exceed the weight limit for the fight by more than 10% either thirty days before the official weigh-in, which takes place the day before the bout, or four weeks (that’s 28 days) prior to the bout itself. The rule gives both time periods, which of course land three days apart.

A May 17, 2006 letter from Jose Sulaiman states that Castillo’s weight as of that date is 146 pounds, and ends as follows: “We are happy to announce that Jose Luis Castillo is within the parameters of the mandated weigh-ins to prevent dramatic weight loss in a short period of time.” Sulaiman should not have been so happy to make that announcement, as May 17 was sixteen days before the weigh-in and seventeen before the fight. As the WBC president well knew, Castillo was not within the parameters of the WBC rule. In fact, he acknowledges as much in his post-fight statement, a clear contradiction of his earlier happy announcement.

But Sulaiman has no qualms about double-talking. It is a privilege that goes well with the title “President-for-Life,” as he is often called. In discussing WBC flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam’s failure to defend against his mandatory challengers during his five-year reign, for example, the WBC president stated: “I prefer to accept the fact that we have been weak with Pongsaklek and take full responsibility for it, rather than explain the unexplainable.” Unfortunately, too many of the actions of the WBC are unexplainable.

What is clear, and clearly explainable, is that WBC Rule 4.6 is rarely, if ever, enforced. There is tacit acknowledgment by Sulaiman that the rule was not followed for the second Castillo-Corrales fight, when Castillo came in overweight, and express acknowledgment that “there has been inconsistency in this rule.”

While it is difficult to stomach Sulaiman’s slippery statement, the primary responsibility for Castillo coming in at weight of course belonged to Castillo and his team. According to contract and according to the championship rules of the WBC, champion and challenger each had an obligation to weigh in at 135. Corrales sacrificed during training and met his obligations at the weigh-in. Castillo, very simply, did not do his job.

How much Corrales sacrificed in preparation for his scheduled June 3 rubber match against Castillo can be deduced from his own recent failure to make weight for his October 7 rubber match against Joel Casamayor. In an ironic turn of events, Corrales weighed in at 139½, precisely what Castillo weighed on June 2, and became the target of the same criticism he had leveled against Castillo four months earlier. Corrales, 139 pounds when he returned to the scale two hours after his first attempt, lost his title on the scales. He also lost a significant portion of his $1.2 million purse to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which fined the now ex-champion $240,000, and to the 135-pound Casamayor, who accepted $250,000 as compensation for agreeing to fight his larger opponent. Corrales then lost a split decision in the ring. After the fight, Corrales announced that he would no longer fight at lightweight.

Corrales, like Castillo before him, was trying to fight in a weight class where he no longer belonged. It is a common practice in boxing, where a fighter attempts to lose an unnatural amount of weight for the weigh-in and then puts the weight back on in time for the fight. In this way, the fighter gains for himself the advantage of being physically bigger than his opponent. It is not unusual for a fighter to gain ten or fifteen pounds, or more, between the time of the weigh-in and the time of the fight. Arturo Gatti and Miguel Cotto routinely gain large amounts of weight following the weigh-in. Jorge Barrios, a 130-pounder who lost his title on the scales when he could not get below 131½ pounds for his September 16 fight against Joan Guzman, has been known to come into a fight nineteen pounds heavier than he was at the weigh-in. He achieves this by hooking up to an IV in order to re-hydrate his body.

These massive weight gains between weigh-in and fight are possible because of the length of time between the two events. The WBC directs that “[t]he weigh-in ceremony shall be held from 24 to 30 hours prior to the start of the boxing event.” The WBA rule mandates that the weigh-in take place between 4 and 8 pm the day before the fight. The IBF states that “[t]he initial weigh-in shall be no less than twelve (12) nor more than twenty four (24) hours before the start of the bout,” but, in practice, it is routinely more than 24 hours; the IBF, however, does direct that a second weigh-in take place on the morning of the fight, at which the fighters can weigh no more than ten pounds above the weight limit. The WBO fails to set forth a time in their rules, but the practice is to hold the weigh-in ceremony the day before the fight. The rules of the sanctioning organizations apply only to championship fights, but most state commissions also hold day-before weigh-ins. In all cases, hours passed translate into pounds gained.

It wasn’t always that way. In the past, weigh-ins took place on the day of the fight. That practice changed for the wrong reasons – reasons that have to do with the promotion of the fight, and not with the health and safety of the fighters. “Promoters use weigh-ins as a way of marketing their fighters,” explains Larry Merchant, expert analyst for HBO Boxing since 1978. Holding the weigh-in the day before the fight provides another opportunity for publicity and television exposure. It is part of the hype leading to the fight, hype which sells tickets and attracts television viewers. Promoters and television executives are not wrong to want this publicity, but finally it must take a back seat to the more important considerations of safety and fairness. It is those interests that state commissions and sanctioning organizations must protect.

Proponents of day-before weigh-ins argue that the practice promotes the health and safety of boxers, as it gives them sufficient time to become properly re-hydrated before entering the ring. But that assumes that they have become improperly dehydrated leading up to the weigh-in. Greg Sirb, director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission since 1987 and a vocal advocate of day-of-the-fight weigh-ins, makes the logical argument: “If a fighter has to starve himself and dehydrate himself in order to make weight, that is a sign that the fighter should not be in that weight class.” Starvation and dehydration, needless to say, cannot be good for the body, yet that is exactly what is promoted by day-before weigh-ins.

“The scientific or medical argument for early weigh-ins has largely been discounted,” says Merchant. Since there is no scientific basis to support day-before weigh-ins, a return to day-of-the-fight weigh-ins seems in order. “If it doesn’t make fighting safer,” argues Merchant, “then on an observational basis it makes boxing less safe.” That is because it allows a naturally bigger man to gain an unfair advantage in size and strength over a smaller opponent. Merchant illustrates his point: “Emmanuel Steward told me that Gerald McClellan used to wake up on the day of the weigh-in ten pounds over the weight limit. He would put on a rubber suit and go in and out of a steam room until he made weight.” McClellan, a middleweight knockout artist, was almost always the bigger, stronger man in the ring.

Holding the weigh-in on the day of the fight, as Pennsylvania does, encourages fighters to make weight in the proper way, and to fight in their proper weight classes. “What’s more important,” asks Sirb, “what the kid weighs before the fight or what he weighs at competition?” And that, finally, is the point. The reason that weight classes exist at all is to ensure a fair fight. Fair and safe competition begins with the requirement that the two men facing each other are the same size. If that is the goal, as it must be, then the way to achieve that goal is by holding day-of-the-fight weigh-ins. That is the only way to encourage boxers to fight in their proper weight classes. “Pick on someone your own size” may be a schoolyard rebuke, but it is a call, at bottom, for fairness.

Any change from the present system of day-before weigh-ins is bound to meet with resistance from both promoters and fighters. But Merchant believes that a combination of creative and legal thinking can overcome this resistance. On the creative side, promoters need to find different ways to market their fights so that they do not have to depend on weigh-ins. Adjusting the times of press conferences, making fighters available to the press and holding public work-outs are among a number of suggestions offered by Merchant. Administratively, commissioners, particularly those in the major fight venues of Nevada and California in the west, and New York and New Jersey in the east, need to institute a policy of day-of-the-fight weigh-ins. “Ultimately what will happen is that fighters will start to fight at a weight that is more natural for them,” says Merchant.

In his lead-in to the HBO-televised Barrios-Guzman fight, Merchant spoke on air about a movement to return to weigh-ins on the day of the fight in order to stop the practice of fighters trying to make weight in the wrong way. He was speaking about Jorge Barrios, but hovering behind his comments was the shadow of Jose Luis Castillo. Both fighters failed to make weight for title fights, and the only reason they tried to make a weight that was unnaturally low given the size of their bodies was that they knew they would have more than 24 hours to put weight back on. Early weigh-ins, says Merchant, “discourage some fighters from training as hard as they have to because they think they can finesse it.” If Castillo knew that he would not have more than a day to replenish his body, he would not have pretended to be a lightweight. Safety and fairness matter – they matter more than publicity – and we will move one step closer to those goals by having fighters fight in their proper weight classes.

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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