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Articles of 2006

Johnny Bos: It Can Happen Here

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The legendary Johnny Bos (pronounced Boz), once known as the matchmaker’s matchmaker, is a straight-up dude. He tells it like it is, wears his heart on his sleeve, and cares more about the fighters than he cares about the fights. But due to some wrong turns in the road, augmented by personal phobias, impersonal politics, globalization and a free market, Bos finds himself locked out but trying to get in, smothering beneath an avalanche of medical bills and in need of help.

So boxing’s Johnny Bos, a man who’s been baked, boiled, sautéed, braised, barbequed, grilled and deep-fried during the course of his career, now gets to suffer the final indignity: Johnny Bos is getting roasted.

The Johnny Bos Roast, aka BosFest 2006, has been postponed from its original November 17th date, due to that date’s proximity to the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation Dinner on the 16th, and is in the process of being rescheduled for late January. One of men spearheading the event is jack-of-all-trades Michael Marley. I catch Marley, who was on the road with Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield and had just returned to New York, and ask about Johnny Bos and the roast.

“Bos made the executive decision,” Marley says. “It is his roast. All the money goes to him. So far we’ve had a tremendous response. Johnny’s really received a real shot in the arm. Some of the people, like you guys, were good enough to buy a table.

“We’ve had people who sent in checks from Houston, Texas, Las Vegas, Seattle, you name it. There were some checks that came in from overseas. Johnny has health issues. He was diagnosed four or five years ago with congestive heart failure. Doesn’t mean he’s going to die tomorrow. He was told he had five years, and his five years is about up. I’m not trying to be dramatic, I expect Johnny to be around for many years, hopefully, but his biggest health issue is that he has no health insurance, and he’s had huge medical expenses.”

In addition to mounting medical bills, Bos’ career, which was on the ascendant, took a hit when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989. The European promoters who were his bread and butter didn’t need Bos to find them opponents anymore. Now they could now find them in their own backyard.

“In those days the money was going in and out of Johnny’s hands fast,” says Marley. “Johnny blew a lot of it in his high-flying days, but he made so much of it of retained some of it. But in recent years, and I’m not going to name names, I’m sure you’ve heard stories, various managers, promoters, fighters, including some people who Johnny got into world title shots and into world titles, basically stiffed him. And that hasn’t helped.

“But the response to the roast shows that there are people out there who really like Johnny and care about him and appreciate his friendship and character, because of there’s one character left in boxing, it’s got to be Bos.”

For those who don’t know or have never seen him, Johnny Bos is larger than life. At 6'4″ and 235-pounds, you can spot him a mile away. With his Fu Manchu moustache, long blonde hair, dark shades, pimp threads, bling jewelry, swagger and hip-hip ethos, you've got a one-of-a-kind, solid gold, world-class, A-1 boxing, as Marley calls him, “character.”

But Bos also knows as much about the fight game as anyone alive.

“When I was a kid my father used to watch the fights at home on TV,” Bos tells me with a raspy voice when I ask him when his love of boxing first began. “The first fight I went to was the first Patterson-Liston fight on closed-circuit. First fight I saw live was Hurricane Carter versus Luis Rodriguez. I also hung out at the gyms. Bobby Gleason's when it was on 149th. Harry Wiley's on 135th. Jimmy Glenn's Third Meridian on 125th. Cus D'Amato's gym on 14th Street. Gil Clancy's Parks Department on 28th Street. That was basically my education. I didn't go through but nine years of high school. I remember Gil Clancy used to chase me out: 'It's not even three o'clock! What the hell are you doing here?'”

Bos was born to be a truant, but for someone who never graduated from high school he seems pretty smart, maybe even too smart for his own good.

“Different people get different educations different ways,” Bos says. “The smartest people you'll ever meet are drug dealers on the streets that have no education at all. But they know what they're doing, they know business, they know money. They must be running it pretty good because there's plenty of it around.”

Bos was a wild and crazy youth in his wild and crazy youth, and even as an adult he burned the candle at both ends, but he gave up demon rum, which was killing him not slowly but fast, twenty years ago and has never looked back, and if he hasn’t exactly been a choirboy during the last two decades, at least he’s not been a lush starting street fights in taverns.

I offhandedly tell Bos I gave up booze at 14, after three nauseous years of adolescence, to try my unsteady hand at other things (it was, after all, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius).

“Sunshine!” exclaims Bos with smile. “I used to get the clear light and drop it in a bottle of sangria and drink it, and whew! It was a helluva lot nicer. We would snort heroin to come down from the sunshine because there was so much speed in it. But like with LSD, I took that until I had a bad trip and then I stopped. The alcohol I couldn't. Went into a program. I'm scared sh– of booze. I'm not going to pick it up.”

Johnny Bos first made a name for himself in the 1970s alongside a boxing rebel named Flash Gordon.

“Me and Flash Gordon started Tonight's Boxing Program‚ which became New York Boxing World. I was writing that up and working in the post office and I believe it was Harold Lederman who called Dennis Rappaport and had him call me to put together a show in January of '78. I was 25 then,” Bos recollects. “From there the matchmaking kept growing.”

It was an auspicious beginning to what turned out to be a distinguished career.

“I was a matchmaker for most of the shows in the area,” says Bos. “In those days someone would come in and do a show when they didn't have their own matchmaker. They'd use a local guy, whoever they were, and fortunately I got chosen for a lot of them. Nowadays every one of these companies has their own matchmakers.

“Matchmaking is not matchmaking anymore. That's why you don't have the 10-8 fighters. When they bring in a fighter he's got to be 14-0 and the guy comes out and he can't even fight. Now a promoter comes to you and gives you one side of the show and tells you to find an opponent for the rest. That's not matchmaking.”

I ask Bos if he's alluding to the proverbial meat wagon.

“That's just what it is. I don't mind finding them, but f—,” Bos declares, “I'm not God. Somebody calls me from Europe and they're paying enough money and I'm gonna get paid and the fighter's gonna get paid, that's a big difference than paying some kid $400 to have his [effing] head handed to him, and making a hundred calls to do it.

“What I am really is a personal matchmaker. I handle fighters and I make the matches for them or I okay the matches. Matchmakers are not what they used to be. Managers are not what they used to be. Managers nowadays are just [effing] money guys that are going to do whatever the promoter tells them.”

Nothing is as it used to me. Bos tells me, as an example, “I haven’t worked since the Gatti-Gamache weigh-in.”

For Bos, the 1980s were the “money years. Europe was flourishing then because of the '84 Olympics, and you still had communism. I wish they [effing] kept communism,” says the politically incorrect former matchmaker. “What happened was once communism stopped that opened up a lot of other countries to professional boxing, and instead of paying the Americans what they wanted, they could go to Russia, they could go to Poland, and get those guys to fight 10 rounds for a thousand dollars — they were starving people — and it dropped the money so much that Americans didn't want to go to Europe any more.”

Bos made some good money in the good years and moved to Florida in 1988. He bought a condo and planned on making a fresh start, “But it's pretty hard to get up and work when you look out the window and see all these girls running around all the time.”

So Johnny Bos returned to the big city.

“Boxing as it is in the United States should be banned,” continues Bos. “Boxing is a brutal form of entertainment because nobody gives an f— about nobody. The gloves now, even though they're 10-ounces, have less padding over the knuckles than the six-ounce gloves used to have. That's why you're having so many hand injuries. But freaky things happen. Like how many times have you ever heard of a fighter dying in one round? But I'll tell you something. When fighters do die, it's usually in states where they give those exams.

“Basically what happens now is the fighters don't have the respect for the trainers and the managers. They've become their own bosses and that's not good. Some trainers are great in the gym and you put them in the corner and they're dog sh–,” Bos says. “Or you got guys who are great cornermen but can't train anybody. If the fighter tells the trainer he doesn't want to stop, half the time the trainer ain't gonna stop it, because he’s scared he's not going to get paid.”

It's the same old story, human sacrifice for filthy lucre, but Johnny Bos sees a solution to the problem.

“Instead of putting some idiot from the commission who's standing in the corner and don't know what the f— he's looking at because they've never been in the ring — if they got slapped they'd cry like bitches — get experienced cornermen who are not working that night who know what's legal and not legal and pay them. And if they think the fight should be stopped, it should be stopped. They have no ties to anybody.”

Bos was a player for years and knows the fight game inside out and upside down. With his knowledge, experience and rarified boxing sensibility, I ask if he has some parting words.

“I want to work,” Bos says. “I want to do what I do, without being prevented from doing it. Here I am dying — I'm 54, but I'm 84, if you know what I mean — but as bad a shape as I’m in, I may outlast the sport. I had a good run, but it looks like my luck has run out, so I really appreciate this is happening.”

If you want to help a brother in need, send a check or donation to the Johnny Bos Roast ($250 for an individual, $2000 for a table for ten) c/o Michael Marley/250 West 100th Street/Suite 1102/New York, NY 10025.

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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