Connect with us

Articles of 2006

Calabrese Brawlers



Calabria is one of the Italian regions best-known in the United States. That’s because millions of U.S. citizens have Calabrese blood. Most of them live in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The largest Calabrese community should be in Philadelphia, but there are also groups in small towns like Clarksburgh (West Virginia) where they promote an annual parade inviting major celebrities as Grand Marshall. Not many people know that Calabria produced some of the best Italian fighters of the last 30 years. The most famous is Giovanni Parisi, the only one who won it all. Born in Vibo Valentia on December 2, 1967, Giovanni won the Olympic Gold Medal in the featherweight division, built a professional record of 41 wins (29 KOs), 5 losses and 1 draw. He became WBO lightweight and light welterweight champion. You can read everything about his career in my articles published on this website on December 5, 2005 and September 25, 2006.

Another famous Calabrese boxer is Giorgio Campanella. Born in Crotone on February 20, 1970, he had an outstanding amateur career winning four Italian titles (in the lightweight and light welterweight divisions) and the European light welterweight championship. Between 1990 and 2000, he fought 38 professional bouts: 31 wins (24 by KO), 6 losses and 1 draw. He became Italian super featherweight champion and fought three times for a WBO belt. He is still remembered in American gyms because he knocked down WBO super featherweight champion Oscar De La Hoya with a perfect left hook to the chin. It happened on May 27, 1994 in Las Vegas. After the second loss to Shane Mosley, the Golden Boy was asked by Larry Merchant: “Did Mosley hurt you?” Oscar’s answer was: “Only two fighters hurt me: Ike Quartey and Giorgio Campanella.” If you want to know more, read my interview to Giorgio Campanella published on November 22, 2005.

A third outstanding Calabrese boxer was Vincenzo Belcastro. Probably, you never heard of him because he spent his entire career in Europe. In Italy, not many people remember him because he always had the press against him. The so-called experts wrote that he wasn’t the equal of the champions of the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe that’s true, but Vincenzo Belcastro proved to be the best of his own era and that’s enough to treat him with respect. Born in Fuscaldo on February 2, 1962, Vincenzo Belcastro debuted professionally in 1984 and kept on fighting until 2000. He built a record of 32 wins (only 4 KOs), 13 losses and 5 draws. His record doesn’t look impressive because Vincenzo didn’t stop fighting in 1996. From 1997 to 2000, he fought 5 times getting 1 draw and 4 losses. When Belcastro was in his prime, he was a real toughman. He worked his way up slowly, but ultimately made it big. In 1986-7, he won and defended the Italian bantamweight title. On April 13, 1988 he got a chance against hyped Fabrice Benichou. The Frenchman had a big mouth and was supported by the press, but Vincenzo KOed him in 3 rounds becoming European bantamweight champion. The victory was no fluke as Belcastro successfully defended the EBU belt against Lorenzo Martinez Pacheco (TKO 9), Billy Hardy (twice), Luigi Camputaro (on points) and Ronnie Carroll (unanimous decision). On April 28, 1991 the Calabrese brawler lost the belt on points to Thierry Jacob.

During his reign as European champion, Vincenzo Belcastro had two chances to win the world title. On August 21, 1988 in Capo d’Orlando (Sicily), he lost a split decision to IBF super bantamweight king Jose Sanabria. The judges scored 115-114 for Belcastro, 114-113 and 116-110 in favor of Sanabria. When two scorecards are that close, it’s reasonable to assume that either boxer could have won the fight. The third scorecard means little to me because I remember the judge who gave 8 points to Sugar Ray Leonard against Marvin Hagler… Belcastro’s second opportunity to become world champion took place on January 26, 1991 against IBF titlist Robert Quiroga. The match took place in Capo d’Orlando and was one-sided. Quiroga got two scorecards in his favor: 120-110 and 117-111. A third judge scored it 115-114 for Belcastro.

Showing typically Calabrese determination, Belcastro worked hard and got back on top. On January 27, 1993 in Orzinuovi he beat Antonio Picardi by majority decision and won the European bantamweight title. Belcastro successfully defended it against Drew Docherty (on points) and lost it to Naseem Hamed by unanimous decision. The journalists who didn’t like Belcastro wrote that he was finished. As usual, Belcastro reacted proving them wrong. Reacting is a characteristic of the people with Calabrese blood. If you are looking for trouble, provoke a Calabrese and you will find it. I know because I have Calabrese blood and never let anybody insult me and get away with it. Never. When somebody tells me to act as if nothing happened, my answer is: “My parents, grandparents and the previous generations were not from England. Self-control, forgiving and forgetting are not in my genes.”

Going back to Vincenzo Belcastro, he got a third world title shot and performed well. On December 17, 1994 in Cagliari (Sardinia) he lost to split decision to IBF super flyweight champion Harold Grey. One judge scored it 114-113 for Vincenzo. The others had it 115-113 and 115-112 in favor of Grey. There were many close fights in Belcastro’s career. Maybe that’s why he was underrated. My opinion is that if a soccer team can win 1-0, a boxer can win by one point. After losing to Grey, Belcastro challenged tough Serguei Devakov for the vacant European super bantamweight crown. It was April 5, 1995 and Belcastro won on points. He successfully defended the belt three times before losing it to Salim Madjkoune (TKO 8) on July 11, 1996. Despite the critics and the split decisions in favor of his opponents, Vincenzo Belcastro can proudly claim to have dominated the European scene from 1988 to 1996, becoming champion three times in two weight divisions.

A fourth excellent Calabrese boxer was Antonio Renzo. Born in Calopezzati on December 18, 1959, Antonio fought professionally from 1984 to 1994 building a record of 26 wins (21 KOs) and 9 losses. He failed in his first attempts to become Italian and European champion, but kept on trying and eventually won both titles. On December 23, 1989 Antonio stopped Luca De Lorenzi in four rounds and became Italian lightweight champion. On April 27, 1991 Renzo demolished Steve Boyle (TKO 7) and won the European lightweight belt. As usual, journalists called it a fluke and Antonio reacted with a vengeance. He successfully defended the EBU belt against Paul Charters (KO 11) and Carl Crook (TKO 6) before losing it to Jean Baptiste Mendy (TKO 9). After losing the rematch to Mendy, the Calabrese brawler fought twice losing on points to Antonio Strabello and defeating Michel Dahmani for the IBF Intercontinental lightweight crown. He then retired as a champion. I interviewed Antonio Renzo many years ago and he was working as a cook in the restaurant owned by his brother. Maybe I will interview him again in the future for The Sweet Science. I’m sure he has a lot to say about Italian boxing and journalists who always put down our best fighters.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



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, 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.?

Continue Reading

Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia



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


Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


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

Continue Reading

Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak



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.

Continue Reading