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Articles of 2006

Bruising Waltzes, Holiday Class and Diamonds in the Desert

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TOHONO O’ODHAM NATION—Being the favorite didn’t keep a strong trio of marquee fighters from feeling heavy heat last Friday, December 8, as Desert Diamond Casino closed out the year with another high note in their thriving boxing series.

A standing room only swarm of around 2,000 saw quality in each of seven bouts. Much of the action was world-class. Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley added star power to the slugout sparks.

It was no shock that Golden Boy Promotions and Telefutura brought in another fine production, but many fans got quite a surprise in how much trouble nearby Tucson’s local hero Norberto “Nito” Bravo had against Michael Lucero of West Linn, Oregon.

Bravo, a semi-finalist from last season’s “The Contender,” got a rejuvenating career boost when he emerged from the second season’s installments as one of the most enduring, popular participants.

On paper it looked like 5-foot-8 Bravo was getting a relatively easy assignment against 5-foot-3 Lucero, now 10-11-1 (2), but Bravo, 23-13-3 (12), got all he could handle, maybe more.

It was a decent battle overall, but somewhat anticlimactic after Bravo’s TV drama and some of the evening’s previous slugfests. Many ringside observers, including this one, felt Lucero had landed enough punches to win.

Lucero certainly earned a rematch, but from a risk reward basis it’s probably not the safest managerial move for Bravo.

“He’s a tough kid but I thought I was ahead and the knockdown sealed the deal,” said a bruised but unfazed Bravo. “He gave me a run for my money. I had to lose weight after The Contender and it affected my stamina. I thought my overall performance was good.”

Bravo’s eight-round adventure may have been scheduled for last on the card, but no one left for this “walkout” bout. The crowd stayed on their feet screaming for Bravo’s entrance. Soon after that Lucero made them sit on nervous hands.

Bravo scored a knockdown in the second session that made the place loco again, but the anxious general silence for much of the rest of the contest spoke softly but definite volumes on the visitor’s behalf.

Referee Ray Scott had his hands full during give and take flurries, then sporadic hug and slug clinches.

Bravo was winded by the seventh round but kept throwing. The look from his weary countenance indicated he understood how much was at stake, as the beer baptized faithful kept up a hopeful yet muffled chant.

Inspired for a big finish, Bravo scored well and almost gained a grand finale. He rocked Lucero repeatedly in the last two frames and teed off to close the show with a bang, seemingly just a punch or two away from another knockdown.

Official scores: Joe Garcia and Chris Wilson 78-73, Dennis O’Connell 76-75 all for Bravo.

“I kept landing the left hook but it didn’t have the extra sting to put him out,” said Bravo. “I give him all the credit in the world.”

Lucero also deserves credit for maintaining his very positive composure after losing a probable career advancing decision which numerous fans and media felt should have gone his way.

Jose Angel Beranza, 121, 28-9-2 (25), from Mexico City upset former WBO Super Flyweight titlist Ivan “Choco” Hernandez, 123¾ , 23-2-1 (13), in a true whapathon.

Both lanky technicians landed good shots. Hernandez rocked Beranza early with right hands over the top, but the price Hernandez paid to stay within firing range got too steep. Beranza kept punishing pressure on behind looping hooks.

By the 4th round it looked like Hernandez’s left hand really gave him problems. By the middle frames Hernandez looked the worse for walloping wear. Beranza’s left eye was damaged and Hernandez’s puffy face was cut on the bridge of his already bloodied nose.

Many rounds were hard to call. Both men wailed away full tilt to gain back and forth rounds by just a few punches.

Hernandez made a late surge in the 8th and the bout was still up for grabs going down the stretch.

Beranza dodged a steady stream of shots and pressed more of the finishing action, before an appreciative audience.

All judges (Gerald Maltz, Chris Wilson, Craig Harmon) saw it 96-94 for underdog Beranza.

Hernandez was taken to the hospital to assess the damaged hand.

It’s a good thing that slick stinging Daniel Jimenez, 16-1-1 (10), San Juan, PR, was ready for top competition, scheduled against Javier Jauregui. When Jauregui pulled out with a nagging injury a day before showtime, late substitute Angel Recio provided just that.

The last day fill in was ready for almost anybody, and charged with thumping aggression until the cupboard was bare.

Previously undefeated Recio, now 10-1 (2), from Santo Domingo, DR, came mighty close to pulling an upset of his own on this night of no quarter close calls.

Recio threw an impressive pile of punches and made Jimenez dance backward for much of their bruising waltz. Recio sprang in and scored whenever Jimenez waited for openings.

Recio got too cute too early after initial success, and learned something about both his more experienced foe’s patience and power.

Jimenez did cumulative damage with short left hooks and Recio’s eyes grew puffy.

Recio mugged confidently but paid for it with a huge right that kept his respect from then on as Jimenez found the range.

Recio showed he could counter and hung tough with left hooks. Each man landed whaps that drew deep “oohs” from the crowd.

Jimenez blocked more and more as the fight and Recio’s vision problems progressed. A short left blast dropped Recio flat on his back, to stare up blankly at the Diamond Center’s unique turquoise/aquamarine lighting pattern in dreamland, as if he’d never get up by New Year’s.

But in fistic glory, he did.

Most of the roaring crowd was on their feet as Jimenez stalked and walked him down. Jimenez landed around half a dozen vicious right uppercuts without resistance. Referee Bobby Ferrara waved it off after Recio was backed full circle around the ring, swallowing heavy leather.

Official time of the TKO was 0:36 of the round nine. Recio was ahead on one judge’s scorecard at the mooted moment.

Prospect Craig McEwan, 3-0 (2), looked strong enough, but his power might be questioned after some of the huge shots Valentino “The Eagle” Jalomo, 2-1-1, took without flinching in their middleweight meeting. Jalomo kept rushing inside and landed more than a few decent punches of his own. It got sloppy, but the crowd loved the two way brawling. There were lots of boos at the unanimous nod to McEwan.

Wonder if McEwan asked trainer Fred Roach to wear a kilt like his other cornerman.

Overmatched Ramiro Rivera, 4-3 (3), Phoenix, wasn’t intimidated during exchanges with talented Gabriel “El Rey” Martinez, 11-0 (6). They traded at roughly an even rate in numbers, but Martinez simply had too much power. Rivera was getting knocked around the ring by the climax. He fought back all the way but protected himself less and less until ref Nico Perez properly stepped in at 1:46 of the 3rd.    

2004 Puerto Rican Olympian Super Heavyweight Victor Brisbal, 6-1 (4), pounded out a rugged six-round unanimous decision over game Robbie “Crazy” McClimans, 4-3-1 (2). Brisbal towered over McClimans but couldn’t discourage the tough Texan, who rumbled on to humorous chants of “Let’s go Crazy.”

In the afternoon appetizer, Leon Green took a split decision over Eddie Vega that drew some boos.

With Nacho Beristan (Beranza), Roach, and Miguel Diaz in camp, you could have microphoned the ringposts for a clinic on corner work and trainers.

Area fans deserve another year’s worth of credit. Once again the bar and beer stand lines stayed busy but there were no apparent buttheads or amateur drunks to contend with.

In a night full of first-class acts from top to bottom, hard luck Lucero gets our MVP (Most Venerable Puncher) holiday toast.

“It was a good, close fight,” said the humble visitor. “I’m OK with that, and I’d like the chance to come back and do it again.”

All night long, brother.

All night long.

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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