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Articles of 2006

Sugar Ray Seales: Take pride in what you do

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While representing the United States in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Sugar Ray Seales, a native of the Virgin Islands who had immigrated to Tacoma, Washington as a child, vividly remembers the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of numerous athletes and coaches.

When the shooting started, he and many of his teammates, which included Duane Bobick, Marvin Johnson, Ray Russell, Reggie Jones, Jesse Valdez, James “Bubba” Busceme, Ricardo Carrera, Louis Self, Tim Dement and Davey Armstrong, were confined to their rooms on the seventeenth and eighteenth floors of their hotel.

Even as athletes from numerous nations fled Munich at the first signs of violence, never for a second did that idea cross Seales’ mind.

“Nobody knew that the Olympics would end (be suspended) one day and start the next day,” said the now 54-year-old Seales, who less than a year ago moved with his wife to Indianapolis after more than four decades in Tacoma.

“None of the Olympians knew who was doing what to whom, but there was no way I was leaving,” he continued. “My mom and dad were there and that meant so much to me. I wanted to finish the race.”

Seales wound up emerging from the Games as America’s sole gold medalist, but was surprised at how little the medal helped him at during his career.

“It was like nobody wanted to talk about the 1972 Olympics,” he explained without a trace of bitterness. “It was a tough year politics-wise, with the hostage situation and what was going on in Vietnam.”

Ironically, Seales, a long, lean 6’1” southpaw with amazing speed, agility and better than average power, had been selected to represent the United States at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, the same competition that spawned George Foreman.

The only thing that prevented that from happening was the fact that at the time Seales was only 16-years-old, which was one year shy of the minimum age requirement.

As a result, Seales turned pro with little fanfare in January 1973, winning an eight round decision over Gonzalo Rodriguez. Fighting throughout the American West, he rattled off 21 straight victories, 11 by knockout, without a loss.

In his 22nd fight he traveled to Boston to take on local hero Marvin Hagler, who was then 14-0. Seales left Beantown with his first loss, a unanimous decision, to the man who would eventually reign supreme as the undisputed middleweight champion.

“I was a young boy and I just followed my management,” said Seales. “I had no idea what I was getting into. I was a boxer and a winner. I was cleaning up and really enjoying myself. I didn’t check up on Marvin Hagler. I didn’t think there was any reason to.

“I was surprised at how talented he was,” added Seales. “All of a sudden, here comes a real guy to kick your butt. He wasn’t there to wear you down and knock you out. He was there to knock you out.”

Besides incurring his first loss, Seales said that Hagler’s tenacity forced him to change his style, on that night as well as in the future.

“I went from a boxer to a puncher,” he explained. “I was always a Sugar Ray Robinson type of guy. But now I knew I had to be more of a fighter, stand my ground and fight.”

In a rematch in Seattle three months later, Seales battled Hagler to a draw. Five years after that, Hagler knocked Seales down three times and stopped him in the first round in Boston.

Fighting professionally from 1973-83, Seales amassed a record of 56-8-3 (33 KOS). By virtue of his Olympic gold medal, he then believed that wherever he went he was fighting in his “hometown.” Unfortunately, the boxing establishment did not see things the same way.

He twice stopped a hard-punching slugger named Sammy Nesmith, once in Seattle and once in Nesmith’s hometown of Indianapolis, as well as Art Harris, who was 31-0.

Along the way he lost to such luminaries as Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Alan Minter, Ronnie Harris, who took his place in the 1968 Olympics, Ayub Kalule, the late James Shuler, and Dwight Davidson. The only men to ever stop Seales were Hagler and Minter.

Having tangled with so many heavy hitters, one might be surprised by the fact that Seales considers Nesmith the heaviest puncher of all.

“He could have one foot in the graveyards and one foot on a banana peel, and still get off that knockout punch,” said Seales.

Since moving to Indianapolis, Seales has tried to locate Nesmith but has had no success. Although they were archrivals in the ring, he would like to reconnect with him in much the same way he has reconnected with Marvin Johnson, his Olympic teammate, who also resides in Indianapolis, and with whom Seales now attends church.

“He (Nesmith) jabbed me in the mouth during the instructions (in Indianapolis),” explained Seales. “He was very rude to me. But I really worked him out and stopped him in the fifth round.”

Another fighter who showed great disrespect for Seales was little known and relatively inexperienced Mayfield Pennington. Seales traveled to Pikesville, Maryland, to fight him in an eight-rounder in April 1978.

Although Seales stopped Pennington in the final round, he still gets annoyed when discussing the shabby treatment accorded him by local promoters. He and his trainer ordered a pre-fight meal of spaghetti with meat sauce. Out of superstition or paranoia, they switched plates and Seales said his trainer got very sick.

And when Seales fought the undefeated Harris in Akron, where Harris was a local hero being groomed for a title shot, he says the promoters put his dressing room in the attic of the venue. Being the first week of April, the room was freezing. Moreover, pigeons were flying in and out as he warmed up.

“I was still enjoying what I was doing,” said Seales. “I was making decent money and I loved the traveling. Traveling to places like London, Denmark and Italy was worth more than the money to me.”

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in August 1980, Seales was thumbed in the eye by the 6’3” Jamie Thomas. Although Seales won the fight by unanimous decision, it spelled the beginning of the end for him.

Although Seales would go on fighting for two and a half more years, his eyes required constant attention. Doctors who operated on him kept saying his eyes would be stronger than ever.

“(Eye operation) numbers one and two were good, but after three and four things got much worse,” said Seales, who would eventually have seven eye surgeries, three on the right and four on the left. Eventually he was declared legally blind and became an unwitting poster boy for boxing abolitionists.

Although legally blind, Seales says that he can see somewhat through his right eye. However, he does not blame boxing, or anyone or anything else, for his travails.

“I am living with it,” said Seales. “My wife says I can only see what I want to see, but I want to see everything. The most important thing is that I see.”

One thing he has gotten to see is the result of his efforts with autistic children, with whom he worked for 17 years at Lincoln High School in Tacoma. He retired from that position in 2004.

“I would teach them independence, living skills, how to change clothes, cook, wash, separate wash, and all sorts of other things,” he explained. “It was a seven year program, and sometimes it would take a student seven years to get something right. You’d keep teaching, but nothing was coming back. But if they stayed the course, one day they’d get it. I still feel good when I talk about it. They learned from me, but it was more of an honor for me to learn from them.”

Being a fighter by nature, a teacher by vocation, and a man of great faith, Seales never allowed or allows himself a temporary respite by wallowing in self pity.

“It ain’t my will to be a blind man just sitting in the dark,” said Seales. “I give the efforts that He wants me to give. I’m always putting my feet forward. I will always be doing that.”

Seales might have diminished eyesight, but his memory is nothing short of astounding. He remembers all of his Olympic teammates fondly, and says Bobick, who had an unsuccessful professional career, was a lot better amateur than he got credit for.

“If I remember correctly, he fought a German and a Russian back to back,” said Seales. “With one day of rest, he had to fight the big Cuban (Teofilo Stevenson) who was knocking everyone out. The roster didn’t go his way. He got no breaks and never got the opportunity to show how good he was.”

Like Bobick, Seales never won a professional title, but unlike Bobick he did have a relatively successful pro career. Moreover, he says that life has been very good to him. Between them, he and his wife have six children and 17 grandchildren.

He says that most of his dreams came true, but is a little concerned about the state of boxing today. While he describes Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley as “good, old school fighters,” he says he couldn’t help but be disappointed with the recent heavyweight bout between Shannon Briggs and Sergei Liakhovich.

Even though the fight ended with an explosive knockout, until that point it was a lackluster affair.

“Those guys, they’re not with the program,” said Seales. “Boxing is about more than just winning a few dollars. You have to take pride in what you do.”

His biggest dream now is actually one that has just come to him since moving to Indianapolis and hooking up with Johnson, his old Olympic pal who is also a southpaw.

“We’d love to find a good young lefthander and teach him what we know,” said Seales. “Watching a young fighter develop…….man, that would be something.”

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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