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Articles of 2006

HBO PPV’s Mark Taffet: Full Circle

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When people start ticking off things they dislike about boxing, somewhere in the top-ten, saddled in the vicinity of weighing-in the day before a fight, too many belts and weight classes, and routinely questionable judging, pay-per-view sticks uneasily in the craws of fight fans who are workingmen and workingwomen. But if one loves the big fights and wants to see the big fights, what choice does one have but to pony up, or wait a week for the rebroadcast, the rerun, the anticlimactic repeat of that which occurred seven long days before?

For better or worse, pay-per-view is a well-established fact of life. It may sometimes disappoint, but it’s hardly the worst boogieman of them all to haunt the sport.

The genesis of pay-per-view goes back to when boxing was shown on closed-circuit in movie theaters in the 1950s. A cheesy black and white picture with lousy sound created a simulation, an unreasonable facsimile, of being able to watch the big fights as they were happening in real-time. But nowadays, in a digital age rife with high def, pay-per-view is the next best thing to being there, and since HBO is the most successful purveyor of boxing on pay-per-view, I wanted to speak with the man in charge, Mark Taffet, to try to get a feel for what makes him and HBO PPV tick.

Taffet was born in Orange, New Jersey in 1957 to comfortable lower middle-class circumstances. “We lived in a very regular neighborhood,” Taffet told me, “very regular surroundings.” His family was in the restaurant biz, a trait that almost seemed an inheritance. “My grandfather owned a luncheonette in an area called Down Neck in Newark, in the Ironbound section of Newark.”

Taffet’s father owned a series of luncheonettes and delis in those days, so “every few years we were at a different place. I started working when I was four or five years old, selling ice cream cones to customers.”

Those who have worked in or near the restaurant trade know how grueling it can be. The hours are long, waste and theft are endemic, and the pleasure of feeding others is often offset by how demanding and thankless those others can sometimes be.

“Basically,” said Taffet, “the only time I got to see my father was when I worked with him. That’s one of the reasons I started working at such an early age, because he worked six days a week – he was only off Monday – which gave me a 4:00 to 8:00 PM window to see him. It was just enough time to play ball for a few hours and have family dinner together before I had to do my homework for school.” Later, at the age of eight or nine, Taffet worked as a busboy in one of the restaurants, while his mom worked the register.

It almost sounds as though work was a way of life. “That’s what we knew,” Taffet said. “I call them my wonder years.”

Among the wonderful things experienced during those wonder years, sports, and especially boxing, played a large part in Taffet’s education. “My father was a huge sports fan,” HBO's senior vice president for sports operations and pay-per-view said. “He lived, ate and breathed sports… and my father was a big fight fan, so that’s when I learned as a kid about the big fights. And I became, not a fight fan, but a fan of big fights.”

I wondered if Taffet spent time with his dad watching the fights on TV.

“Actually, we talked about them,” said Taffet. “Because in his restaurants the customers used to come in with their newspapers and they would sit and read them, and I remember many times they would talk about boxing. This was in the ‘60s and a lot of the conversations were about Muhammad Ali and the heavyweights, and that was when I really became aware of boxing.

“I remember when there was a big fight, it was a BIG event. It was almost as if things closed down the day of a big fight. And I remember it gave me an impression that was different from baseball, basketball and football. I remember being impressed by the magnitude of a big fight and the attention focused on it and the impression that everything was closing down that day because of a big fight.”

Taffet graduated from Colonia High School in Colonia, NJ in 1975. He was accepted at Rutgers University and graduated in 1979 with a degree in economics, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, the usual signposts of excellence, before entering Wharton School of Business at the U of P in Philadelphia, PA. “I ventured outside the state line of New Jersey,” he admitted.

I asked Taffet if his interest in business was conceptual, or more of a means to an end.

“I knew it was the field I would enter and make a career out of, but I was very naïve at the time. I’d grown up working in restaurants and thought if you worked hard and studied hard and had those intrinsic values things would work out,” Taffet said, “and it wasn’t until I got to Wharton that I really began to see the breadth of opportunities in the business world.

“In those two years at Wharton I got quite an education, not so much an academic education, but more a social education and career education. But I always had an affinity for numbers, for figures, for quantitative analysis, so that’s what drove me to be a finance major, with some marketing course work at Wharton.”

Taffet’s first job out of school was at General Foods. Taffet described it as “almost like a post-graduate experience, a continuing education experience.” The environment was “formal but comfortable,” but it was in a “slow-growth industry. And I noticed there weren’t a lot of people being rewarded for their efforts. It was just not very motivating for me.”

Then Taffet got a call from someone who had been many levels above him at General Foods, someone who had left the company and signed on with an outfit “called HBO in this hot new industry called cable television.” This man told Taffet that “the growth is tremendous, and there’s a real premium for innovation and creativity and hard work and the ability to reward it.”

Taffet took the plunge in 1984, a “very, very big risk,” given his background and training, and became a manager in the finance department working on accounting and budgets. But “it wasn’t boxing at all. It had nothing to do with boxing or sports,” but that was about to change. In 1990 he was asked by HBO Sports to help develop a model for HBO’s interest in acquiring the rights to NFL football games. Taffet, in his words, “developed a model quantifying the amount of money HBO could spend every year and break even given the increased number of subscribers and the length of time those subscribers would stay with the network.” His bosses at HBO and Time Warner liked what they saw and asked him to apply that model to “the boxing business and the boxing marketplace,” which became the model for HBO PPV’s predecessor, TVKO. Taffet and Lou DiBella were TVKO’s first two employees, and it launched in 1991 with Evander Holyfield fighting George Foreman.

But that too changed when Ross Greenberg became head of HBO Sports. “He came aboard,” said Taffet, “and in addition to the pay-per-view responsibilities that I had, he gave me responsibilities for marketing and operations for the non-pay-per-view product of HBO Sports,” which includes shows like Inside the NFL, Real Sports, HBO Championship Boxing and Boxing After Dark. It was, needless to say, a far cry from working at General Foods. “It was fascinating. I give a tremendous amount of credit, thankfully, to Ross, because he gave me a tremendous opportunity, beyond my pay-per-view concentration, to really expand myself personally and professionally, and it’s something I’ll always admire him for.”

Returning to the subject of pay-per-view, I asked Taffet what he knew of its origins. “The reason pay-per-view works for boxing rather than most other program genres is because it represents a significant improvement over the distribution and viewing mechanism that preceded it. Big fights were seen on closed-circuit television for the most part prior to pay-per-view, which meant having to get in your car, drive to theater where the screen was far away from you, the picture quality and sound was poor, and you had people throwing popcorn and beverages all over you. To offer people an opportunity to sit and watch a boxing match in the quiet of their own home with their friends was a tremendous improvement over what preceded it.”

“In 1991 when we started at HBO pay-per-view,” continued Taffet, “I remember people used to have to line up around the corner to get their converter box the day of the pay-per-view fight and leave a deposit and get their deposit back only when they brought the box back on Monday after the fight.”

I remember those days, and we’ve come a long way baby, but convenience and improvements of all kinds aside, there are still complaints about pay-per-view’s frequency and cost (even though were it not for HBO, boxing would be deader than a doornail).

“I tend to look at pay-per-view as something similar to a multiplex theater,” Taffet said. “If you have a multiplex theater and every screen is filled with available programs, some theaters are full, and some theaters are not so full, and that’s because the public chooses which movies it wants to see and which movies it prefers to skip. And pay-per-view is the same way. It’s available to the public, if they want to buy they can, and if not they exercise their right not to buy and not to watch. That’s the essence of the medium, and that’s what’s it’s for and that’s what’s made it work.

“In an ideal world I would love to see not more than six to eight fights a year or so on pay-per-view. The past few years we’ve seen fights almost on a monthly basis on pay-per-view, and I really believe that for the long-term health of the sport, that’s actually way too many. That’s why Ross Greenberg in 2006 made it our mission to put big fights back live on HBO. We’ve had Rahman vs. Toney, Gatti vs. Baldomir, Taylor vs. Wright, Barrera vs. Juarez, and Klitschko vs. Brock. And we’re closing the year very strong with Wright vs. Quartey and Taylor vs. Ouma.”

“Pay-per-view is best when it delivers big, special, defining programming, events that are not just worth people’s time, but are worth their money.”

Some say that boxing is on the skids, that there’s nowhere to go but down and eventually out, but Mark Taffet does not agree.

“2006 has been a big year for HBO pay-per-view. “It’s our biggest year since 1999,” he said. “It might be our biggest year ever. In 1999 we have four mega-fights. We had De La Hoya-Quartey, De la Hoya-Trinidad, and Holyfield-Lewis 1 and 2. We generated 4 million buys and nearly $200 million of revenue. In 2006, through the November 4 Mayweather-Baldomir fight, we’ve generated nearly 3.4 million buys and that figure will likely increase to 3.7-3.8 million buys after the November 18 Pacquiao-Morales rubber match. And what’s interesting is we’ve done it without a single million-buy fight. Our biggest fight this year so far is De La Hoya-Mayorga: 925,000 buys. But what’s happened is there’s been a regular stream of very competitive, very recognizable fights and fighters and the public has really responded and supported the fights.

“When you see fighters in every weight class, there’s a great story unfolding and a great story to be told. In the heavyweight division, there’s some momentum now and we really believe we’re moving toward closure where there’ll be one recognized heavyweight champ. In the middleweights you have Taylor and Wright, off of a great fight live on HBO, facing Quartey and Ouma, with a potential big rematch down the road – and with Joe Calzaghe looking over their shoulders. The 140 to147-pound divisions have almost merged into one, there’s so many great fighters and matchups to be made there: Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Jose Luis Castillo, Miguel Cotto. And there are the lower weight classes, where you still have the great trio of Barrera, Pacquiao and Morales. So from top to bottom, we are just seeing great, great stuff in every weight class. And that’s why when people tell me boxing is slowing down, I laugh at them because we’re exhausted with exuberance.”

The cast of characters in boxing is legion, the good, bad and ugly and everything in-between, so I asked the affable Taffet how he interacts with so many disparate types while maintaining his equilibrium, and he returned to an old theme.

“Although I had an academically-based education, I got my life education growing up with my family as a kid in restaurants where you had to work with people from all walks of life, all socio-economic backgrounds, all races, religions and ethnicities. And I had to communicate with people, I had to listen to people from different backgrounds, and it helped me tremendously growing up in that environment to work with, deal with, and respect all of the people I work with in boxing today.”

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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