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Articles of 2006

Cotto KOs Quintana, Wins Welterweight Crown

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Moments after he had outpointed Joshua Clottey in Saturday night’s co-feature at Boardwalk Hall, Antonio Margarito expressed his desire to fight the winner of the Miguel Cotto-Carlos Quintana main event that was about to enter the ring.

Half an hour later, if he is as smart as we think he is, the WBO champion might have been rethinking that challenge, for Cotto’s debut as a 147-pounder was an impressive one indeed, as he floored Carlos Quintana twice in the fifth round with a paralyzing body attack that sent his heretofore undefeated Puerto Rican countryman back to his stool dazed and unable to continue.

The fifth-round TKO earned Cotto the World Boxing Association title recently vacated by Ricky Hatton, and left Cotto (28-0) calling out the rest of the world’s welterweights — including, but not limited to, Tony Margarito.

Although Cotto was the aggressor throughout, Quintana was able to use his superior reach to fight back, and after four rounds all three ringside judges (Glenn Feldman, George Hill and Malvina Lathan, who was subbing for the ailing Julie Lederman) had it even at 38-all (The Sweet Science had Cotto up 39-37), but the roof came crashing down on Quintana in the fifth.

In addition to the 7-pound leap in weight, one of the questions going into the bout concerned Cotto’s ability to handle the Quintana’s southpaw style. Quintana’s stance never seemed to bother Cotto at all, but when the latter switched to southpaw early in the fifth it appeared to give the surprised Quintana problems.

During the pre-fight introductions, the allegiance of the crowd, announced at 7,412, appeared to be divided nearly 2-1 in Cotto’s favor, and he seemed to have won over new converts as the bout progressed.

By the fifth chants of Cotto’s name rocked Boardwalk Hall, and any residual vestige of support for Quintana, who had by then twice been warned by referee Steve Smoger for low blows, had become decidedly muted.

Late in the second minute of the fifth, Cotto ripped into Quintana with a hard left to the body. Cotto would say later that he had targeted Quintana’s liver, but if so, either his aim was bad or his anatomical knowledge leaves something to be desired, because the shivering punch actually caught the opponent high on his right side.

The effect, on the other hand, was devastating, Quintana crumpled straight to the canvas in evident pain, and when he arose could barely defend himself. Cotto backed him into a corner and landed two more right hands before firing another left to the body.

Quintana took Smoger’s count on his knees, and was barely able to hoist himself to his feet in time to beat it before he was rescued by the bell ending the round.

Dr. Dominic Coletta, the ringside physician assigned to the Quintana corner, studied his patient carefully between rounds, and appeared to be unimpressed. Then, just before the bell would have sounded to open the sixth, New Jersey commission chairman Larry Hazzard came racing, like a man possessed, across the ring to Quintana’s corner, and the fight was over.

Officially, the bout was stopped by Smoger on Coletta’s advice.  (Almost immediately, the referee leaned over and gently kissed Quintana where he sat on his stool.)

“The corner wanted to let him continue,” said Dr. Coletta, “but I could tell the fighter did not. I saw hurt in his eyes.” (And rage, apparently, in Hazzard’s.)

“Miguel is very fast, and he hit me pretty good,” Quintana, now 23-1, said afterward through an interpreter. “I couldn’t handle his speed, and that surprised me.”

“Every punch I threw was hard,” said Cotto. “I felt very strong at this weight. I can do anything I want to do.”

“Miguel,” said Evangelista Cotto, the new champion’s trainer and uncle, “can destroy every fighter in this weight division.”

If Margarito was supposed to make a case for himself as the iron of the welterweight division, he came up short, but he did capture a unanimous decision in a fight that was certainly closer than Gene Grant’s preposterous118-109, and may well have been closer than the 116-112 margins tabulated by the other two judges, Paul Venti and John Stewart.

Although Margarito, by his own admission, “couldn’t get my rhythm early,” this fact escaped the judges, and all three gave the first round to the Mexican champion. (Most scribes scoring at ringside gave it to Clottey.) The Ghanaian won the next two stanzas on all three cards, and the fourth on Venti’s and Stewart’s, as well as ours.

During the fourth, however, Clottey severely injured his left hand, in all likelihood fracturing the knuckle of his index finger. Although he continued to use the hand, the confident aggression he had displayed over the first four rounds all but disappeared.

There had also been a clash of heads at the end of the fourth, and Clottey, the instigator, returned to his corner having apparently gotten the worst of that, too.

Margarito, in any case, was a changed boxer as the fifth began, initiating a body attack that would carry on for most of the rest of the night. As Clottey’s fortunes ebbed, his corner began flashing animated signals confirming the damaged hand, and during one lull in action Clottey himself leaned over the ring ropes and pantomimed a gesture to the television crew below, indicating that he had hurt his paw.

Since this is normally the sort of information a wounded boxer would rather his opponent not know about, Clottey, perhaps subconsciously, may already have been in the process of preparing his excuse.

Margarito, if he was aware of the injury to his opponent, didn’t have long to enjoy it. In the sixth he damaged his own right wrist.

Then Clottey, or so he claimed, “broke,” or at least injured, his right hand in the seventh.

Margarito continued his inexorable march, with two notable exceptions: Clottey spent most of the tenth running, but he did interrupt his retreat long enough to land a few punches. Margarito barely bothered throw any, but all three judges rewarded his exasperation by giving him the round anyway.

And Margarito hardly looked like a champion defending his title in the final stanza, a round he essentially gave away to Clottey and lost on two judges’ cards.

Clottey said that the damage to his hands, especially the left, hampered his performance.

“I couldn’t jab, and I use my left to set up my body shots and combinations,” said Clottey.

Well. Who doesn’t?

How severe Clottey’s injuries actually were, and how much they affected him, remains unlearned, but they probably didn’t affect the overall result: Even giving the challenger the first four, the 10th, and the 12th, our scorecard came up level at 114-114, so even in our favorable view Margarito would have retained his title anyway.

It was at the very least a courageous performance by Clottey, now 30-2, and a workmanlike if unspectacular win for Margarito, 34-4.

“I’ve been off for ten months,” said Margarito half-apologetically. “The layoff certainly didn’t help,”

Donny McCrary managed to draw first blood, but not much else in his undercard bout against Yuri Foreman. Cut above the right eye midway through the first, the Belarus-born, Brooklyn-based middleweight shook off the wound to win a comfortable decision.

Just before the bell in the second Foreman rocked McCrary with a right hand that drove him backward several steps and onto his haunches, but the Missourian righted himself just short of going down. Then in the third, Foreman dropped McCrary with a left hook, which proved to be the fight’s only knockdown. Foreman remained in control throughout to win by lopsided scores of 100-89 (Pierre Benoist), 99-90 (Lynn Carter), and 98-91 (Eugenia Williams).

Foreman remains undefeated at 22-0, while McCrary is now 20-5-2.

In another prelim, New Jersey light-heavyweight Chuck (The Professor) Mussachio, 8-0, rolled over Tony Pope, scoring a third-round TKO over his overmatched Virginia opponent, now 15-13-1. After thoroughly tenderizing his opponent in the first round, The Professor scored a dubious knockdown in the second before dropping Pope with a right hand 53 seconds into the third. Referee David Fields intervened the moment Pope hit the canvas.

Two minutes into the second round, Ubaldo Olivencia missed with an overhand right and then turned, in obvious pain, away from opponent Jesus Rojas. Olivencia hadn’t even finished saying “Oh, F***!” when referee Earl Morton, recognizing that the Brooklyn fighter had dislocated his right shoulder, waved off the fight. The victory kept Rojas unbeaten at 5-0, while Olivencia’s record dropped to 5-10-2.

In a verdict that was not only unpopular with the crowd, but appeared to surprise both boxers, Newark welterweight Alex Perez (7-0) was awarded a unanimous decision in his four-rounder against Guyana-born Troylon Wilson (6-5-1). Benoist scored it 40-36, while Carter and Williams each had it 39-37.

In another early bout, New Jersey super-middleweight Wayne Johnson pitched a shutout, posting a 60-54 clean sweep on the cards of all three judges in handing Oklahoman Delray Raines his first defeat. Johnson is now 14-1, Raines 8-1.

TOP RANK BOXING
BOARDWALK HALL
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
DECEMBER 2, 2006

WELTERWEIGHTS: Miguel Cotto, 146, Caguas, Puerto Rico TKO’d Carlos Quintana, 147, Moca, Puerto Rico (5) (Wins vacant WBA title)

Antonio Margarito, 147, Tijuana, Mexico dec. Joshua Clottey, 147, Accra, Ghana (12) (Retains WBO title)

Alex Perez, 147, Newark, NJ dec. Troy Wilson, 147, Atlanta, Ga. (4)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Chuck Mussachio, 175, Wildwood, NJ TKO’d Tony Pope, 178, Norfolk, Va. (3)

SUPER MIDDLES: Wayne Johnsen, 164, Newark, NJ dec. Delray Raines, 164, Purcell, Okla. (6)

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Yuri Foreman, 157, Gomel, Belarus dec. Donny McCrary, 157, St. Joseph, Mo. (10)

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTS: Jesus Rojas, 121, Caguas, Puerto Rico TKO’d Ubaldo Olivencia, 122, Brooklyn, NY (2)

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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