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Articles of 2006

Cotto-Quintana/Margarito-Clottey Fight Predictions

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Live Saturday night from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Showtime brings us a championship welterweight doubleheader featuring undefeated Puerto Rican sensation Miguel Cotto going up against his fellow undefeated homie Carlos Quintana for the WBA welterweight title vacated by Ricky Hatton. Quintana’s got the confidence, size, reach, thirst, and southpaw stance, but Cotto’s got the pedigree. It could be anyone’s fight. On the co-main we’ve got Antonio Margarito, the man no one wants to fight, getting it on and getting down and dirty with the hungry Ghanaian slugger Joshua Clottey. There’s a lot on the line for all four fighters in both bouts and there’ll be a lot of punches thrown and lot of punches eaten. Expect the unexpected Saturday night. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Cotto/Quintana and Margarito/Clottey.

Never been a big fan of Miguel Cotto. He stands in front of you and seems so easy to hit. Over time, though, he's earned my respect for his sheer toughness and ability to break an opponent down. The way he methodically beat up Paulie Malignaggi was almost disturbing to watch. That being said, and having seen Quintana only once, I like Quintana to upset Cotto. I think he possesses the toughness and boxing skills to frustrate Cotto, and I see him winning a very close decision. I think Margarito may have too much firepower for Clottey in a fun-to-watch fight that will end in the ninth round with Margarito winning by TKO.
Mitch Abramson

Cotto has been flirting with disaster for a couple years now, and that may or may not be because he has been struggling to make 140 pounds. But, in Quintana, he's fighting a full-fledged welterweight with above-average boxing skills and a sturdy chin. Cotto has had his fair share of troubles with boxers (DeMarcus Corley, Paul Malignaggi), and Quintana is bigger and better than both. Cotto's punch won't bail him out this time. Upset! Quintana by split decision.
Matthew Aguilar

The House of Gatti is a fitting venue for this Saturday’s slugfests. In the opener, my heart will be with fellow Bronxite Joshua Clottey, but my money is on Antonio Margarito. Margarito has not lost at welterweight in more than a decade, and has never been stopped. Both champion and challenger share the aggressive style and toughness to make their match a thriller, but Margarito’s experience at the championship level will spell the difference. Margarito retains his WBO title with a hard-fought decision. The all-Puerto Rican battle for the vacant WBA welterweight title should be equally exciting. Miguel Cotto will carry his power with him as he moves up to welterweight, but he will also bring his suspect chin. Cotto was down and almost out against Ricardo Torres last time he fought at Boardwalk Hall, and was badly hurt by DeMarcus Corley, who is not known for his punching power. Cotto showed tremendous heart in coming back each time to knock out his opponent, but against a 147-pounder, his big heart may not be enough to compensate for his susceptible chin. Undefeated southpaw Carlos Quintana, though relatively unknown, has faced credible opposition, and significantly, has made his career at 147 pounds. Look for Quintana, 23-0 with 18 knockouts, to test Cotto’s chin and then finish the job. Quintana beats Cotto by knockout.
David Berlin

Cotto appears to have the better form, having mixed it a better class of fighters but is moving up a weight. Quintana's record, in contrast, doesn't have the same ripeness of competition. Cotto by decision or late stoppage.
Peter M. Carvill

I'm taking Margarito to win this fight by late TKO. Clottey is extremely tough but takes a lot of shots. Margarito will be too strong for Clottey … Cotto vs. Quintana is a tough fight to pick. I want to immediately pick Cotto but Quintana's win over Joel Julio was such a masterpiece that I wouldn't be surprised if he spoiled the evening for Cotto fans. My official pick is Cotto by a close decision. The only sure bet is that Saturday will be a pretty good night of boxing.
Ralph Gonzalez

How about a parlay of the underdogs? If the fight were at 140 we'd like Cotto, but it's not. In viewing the two of them side by side earlier this week it was apparent that Quintana is the larger of the two unbeaten fighters, and hence more likely to be comfortable at the weight. In a big fight you usually want your guy to use his head, but in Clottey's case that would be a mistake. The only two blemishes on the Ghanaian's record — a DQ loss and a technical draw — were the result of head-butts, initiated by him. If he can keep the referee off his back he has a chance against Margarito, who still seems to be thinking more about Mayweather and De La Hoya and even Cotto than about Clottey, a dangerous sign.
George Kimball

Cotto has shown himself to be vulnerable at the lighter weight, so he is taking a big chance against Quintana who is a natural welterweight. But I believe the extra weight will make Cotto stronger and he should win a close, hard-fought decision against the always dangerous Quintana … Because of all the hoopla regarding his failed attempts to get Floyd Mayweather in the ring with him, Margarito wants to prove to the world that he would be a formidable foe for the reluctant warrior (Mayweather). Although Clottey is a rough customer, Margarito will be on a mission and will stop him around the eighth round.
Robert Mladinich

Miguel Cotto needs to win big and set in motion the dynamics of a career that has the look of something interesting in the short term future and to do that he needs Saturday night to be one of those big nights when he makes a statement. How about a left hook all the way from Caguas, Puerto Rico, airmail, special delivery? I am picking Cotto to beat Quintana, but can he grab our attention again? Margarito will do what Margarito does, ply his trade and punish. He's looking more and more like the Mike McCallum of his generation. Right now he's got Clottey to dismantle with his signature stylings and I expect him to stay focused and do it. What we all want from Margarito is a post-fight short list of who he feels is AWOH – Absent With Out Honor – in the championship ranks.
Patrick Kehoe

Joshua Clottey’s flashy — every eye’s on him in the gym. Can’t-miss written all over him: blazing hand speed, power from both sides, an arsenal deeper than Santa’s toy bag, and reflexes so quick he slips punches for sport.  So far he’s made foils of every opponent. I expect the same against Antonio Margarito for four or five rounds, but Antonio’s intensity will reveal the chink in Clottey’s armor: the intangible, who wants it more.  I expect Margarito to grind Clottey down, win a unanimous decision and prove all that glitters is not gold  … Carlos Quintana, expected to be road kill for Colombian enfant  terrible, Joel Julia, schooled the youngster with ease, sending him back to the minors for seasoning. Quintana never choked under the microscope – seized the opportunity.  He’s no patsy; he’s a confident, undefeated slickster with cojones, and a stiff enough straight left to keep Cotto honest, but it won’t be enough. Cotto’s too sound. Even stung, he doesn’t un-glue — uses his legs till he fires back to the head and body with the grouping of a marksman. He should do that with enough brio and precision to get a unanimous decision.
Joe Rein

This may possibly be the toughest fight of Miguel Cotto’s career, but in the end, he will add a welterweight title to his list of achievements. Cotto by TKO … Joshua Clottey has been impressive in his last several bouts, but he will face his toughest competition yet in Antonio Margarito. Clottey will be Margarito’s seventh successful title defense. Margarito by TKO.
Aaron Tallent

Both headliners in Atlantic City have shown vulnerability, so fans could be in for some surprises. Besides looking very good against Joel Julio I don't know enough about Quintana to merit comment on anything besides Cotto's obvious current edge in star power. Top Rank's matchmaking is usually as solid as it gets, so unless there's a miscue it doesn't seem likely they'd risk tripping up a potential cash cow. Margarito may be avoided by top fighters, but to me that still looks more financially based (the name of the real game) than from fear. Projecting with no first hand injury information, Margarito seems like a lock (see previous matchmaking factor). Margarito may fall to injury, but it doesn’t seem likely Clottey is the opponent to cause it. There’s no classic marquee match-up here on paper but this looks like a great weekend of boxing shows. Let’s always hope for the best, and thanks again to everyone who adds their own observations.
Phil Woolever

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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