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Articles of 2006

The Best Heavyweight Champion of the Last 28 Years

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In most all-time rankings you won’t find Larry Holmes, but he surely was one of the greatest heavyweight champions ever. From 1978 to 1985, The Easton Assassin dominated the scene winning the WBC and IBF titles, making 20 successful defenses, became involved in the most publicized fight of his era (the one against Gerry Cooney who lost by TKO 13) and came close to equalling Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record losing on points to Michael Spinks in what Ring Magazine called the Upset of the Year.

If numbers aren’t enough to convince you that Larry was really dominant, just look at the list of boxers that he defeated: top-rated contenders Mike Weaver (TKO 12), Earnie Shavers (TKO 11), Renaldo Snipes (TKO 11) and Carl Williams (on points); past and future heavyweight champions Ken Norton (split decision), Trevor Berbick (on points), Leon Spinks (TKO 3), Tim Witherspoon (split decision), James Bonecrusher Smith (TKO 12) and the legendary Muhammad Ali. Now, it’s true that Ali was on his way down when he challenged Holmes, but that’s no excuse for a one-sided loss. On October 2, 1980 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Holmes hit Ali at will and forced him to remain on his stool at the end of the tenth stanza. The scorecards were 100-90, 100-89 and 100-90 for The Easton Assassin.

Of course, Holmes also made some easy defenses against soft opponents like Alfredo Evangelista (KO 7), Ossie Ocasio (TKO 7), Lorenzo Zanon (KO 6), Leroy Jones (TKO 8), Scott LeDoux (TKO 7), Randall Tex Cobb (on points), Lucien Rodriguez (on points), Scott Frank (TKO 5), Marvis Frazier (TKO 1) and David Bey (TKO 10). It has to be noticed that even the underdogs had good records and every champion alternates a tough fight with an easy one.

No champion, as far as I know, ever did what Homes did against Marvis Frazier. It was one of THE emotional moments in the history of boxing and should be broadcast often to make it known to the detractors of the noble art. On November 25, 1983 at Caesars in Vegas, Larry knocked down Frazier, who wasn’t smart enough to stay down, with a perfect right to the jaw. Holmes understood that his opponent was easy prey and punched him around the ring like a heavy bag. At one point, the Eastern Assassin turned toward the referee and moved his right arm to suggest that he should stop the fight. Mills Lane didn’t do anything. Holmes hit Frazier and again turned toward the referee asking for the massacre to be stopped. Again, Lane let the fight continue. At this point, the champion delivered a big right hand which made Frazier spit out his mouthpiece. Then Holmes hit Frazier with an impressive series of right hands to the face and a big left to the body which convinced Lane to declare the TKO. Could you imagine any prizefighter showing mercy? Larry Holmes did. He kept hitting Frazier because it was his profession, but he showed great humanity asking the referee to stop the massacre because he didn’t want to kill his opponent. I interviewed Holmes for a major Italian newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, which published it on October 14, 2004 (on that occasion they printed 1,148,913 issues) and asked him about the Frazier fight. This is what he said:

“Marvis Frazier took the fight because the promoter offered him $1,000,000, but he didn’t belong in the same ring with me. I took the fight for the same reason. Making money is the name of the game. Don’t believe the boxers who say they do it for passion, it’s always a matter of money. I asked Mills Lane to stop the massacre because I never wanted to hurt anybody. Today, I hear too many bullies saying that they want to kill their opponent.”

If I learned something in 16 years of journalism, is that the guys who talk too much never do anything while the ones who don’t talk build something. It’s like a business deal; top businessmen always do what they are supposed to, wimps and crooks find every excuse and never get the job done. Same thing in boxing. Larry Holmes didn’t need to threaten anybody because he let his punches do the talking for him. He just looked Frazier in the eyes while they were in the middle of the ring and that was enough to understand who would have won. Officially, no title was on the line. But everybody knew that if Holmes lost, the WBC would have stripped him of the belt. That’s enough, for me to consider it a title defense.

Among today’s champions, nobody can throw combinations like The Easton Assassin used to do: with power and elegance. Holmes dismantled his opponents apparently without effort making the public believe that throwing ten consecutive punches was easy. Holmes was also brave enough to rise after knockdowns and win the fight. On September 28, 1979, Holmes was sent down by Ernie Shavers (in the 7th round), but The Easton Assassin got revenge and won by TKO 11. It has to be pointed out that Homes had beaten Shavers on points on March 25, 1978. Ernie Shavers is considered by many experts the hardest hitter ever, but Holmes is the only one who beat him twice. From 1969 to 1983, Ernie Shavers built a record of 72 wins (67 KOs), 13 losses and 1 draw. He faced the most dangerous contenders of his time and lost to WBA/WBC champion Muhammad Ali on points. Shavers fought again in 1987 and 1995 – winning twice and losing once – before retiring for good.

Going back to Larry Holmes, on November 6, 1981 history repeated itself: he was put down by Renaldo Snipes in the 7th round, but Holmes put him to sleep in the 11th. On September 21, 1985 at Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Larry Holmes defended the heavyweight belt for the 21st time against light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. You notice that I don’t mention what belts they wore. No need to do it: both were the legitimate champions in their division. Holmes had a perfect record of 48-0 and beating Spinks (27-0) would make him equal to Rocky Marciano. After 15 rounds, Spinks got a unanimous decision: 145-142 (twice) and 143-142. The rematch took place on April 19, 1986 and Spinks got two cards in his favor: 144-142, 144-141. The other judge scored it 144-141 for Holmes. That was the end of Larry’s prime.

The Easton Assassin fought another 25 bouts, with a record of 21 wins and 4 losses. The most important win took place on February 7, 1992 against Ray Mercer (UD). The losses were in title fights. On January 22, 1988 Holmes was TKOed in four rounds by Mike Tyson. The problem was that Holmes didn’t throw a combination in the entire fight; that’s why I wrote that The Easton Assassin wasn’t the same after the second loss to Spinks. On June 19, 1992 WBA/WBC/IBF champion Evander Holyfield got a large decision against Holmes. But let’s get one thing straight: I don’t think that the Real Deal could have lasted more than six rounds against a young Holmes. On April 8, 1995, WBC king Oliver McCall got a close unanimous decision (one point in two scorecards) against Holmes. On January 24, 1997 Holmes lost another close decision to IBO champion Brian Nielsen. It has to be noticed that the fight took place in Denmark and one judge scored it 116-115 for Holmes. Considering that partisan verdicts are the norm everywhere, probably Holmes was the real winner.

On July 27, 2002 the Easton Assassin fought for the last time against Butterbean Eric Esch. After ten rounds, Holmes won easily on points. When I asked him about that mismatch, he said: “I had 74 fights in my record and I wanted to make it 75. That’s the only reason why I accepted to fight Butterbean. I have to admit that he hurt when he hit me.”

Today, Larry Holmes keeps living in Easton where he built a mall and makes money renting the spaces to various companies. Inside the mall, he opened the Ringside Restaurant and Lounge where he displays more than 100 photos, three championship belts and many trophies. Holmes also opened a gym, at 228 Canal Street, to train future champions. At least, that was his intention. That’s what he told me: “Today’s youngsters want to fight a few times on HBO, because they think that will be enough to become famous and make money. It never worked that way and never will. Boxing is a tough sport for tough kids, who can make sacrifices for ten years before getting a big opportunity. The toughest of them become champions and keep the belt for a long time. Defending the belt is as tough as winning it. People who don’t realize that boxing is not easy, will never make it.”

Larry Holmes
Born on March 11, 1949 in Cuthbert (Georgia).
Nickname: The Easton Assassin because he is a resident of Easton (Pennsylvania) since 1957.
Record: 69 wins (44 KOs) and 6 losses.
On March 21, 1973 he had his pro debut, winning on points against Rodell Dupree.
On June 9, 1978 he won the WBC title from Ken Norton (on points) and officially defended it 16 times. The win over Marvis Frazier wasn’t a title defense, but Holmes would have been stripped of the WBC belt if he had lost.
On December 11, 1983 Holmes vacated the WBC title and signed with the IBF becoming its first heavyweight champion. He successfully defended the IBF title three times.
Larry Holmes reigned as heavyweight champion from June 9, 1978 to September 21, 1985. That makes 7 years, 3 months and 12 days. It is the second-longest reign in history after Joe Louis who was on top from 1937 to 1948. It has to be noticed that Louis didn’t fight from 1942 to 1946 because of the Second World War.

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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