In anticipation of his June 10 showdown with Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, Paulie Malignaggi and his promoter Lou DiBella met with members of the boxing press via telephone conference call. This is what went down…
LOU DIBELLA, DIBELLA ENTERTAINMENT: It's going to be a big night at Madison Square Garden on June 10th and I think that Paulie's going to shock the boxing world when he becomes the new 140 lb champion. This is a fight that I'm very grateful to Top Rank and to Cotto for giving us the opportunity to participate, and it's a fight that Paulie's wanted his entire career. Since his third pro fight he's been saying, get me Miguel Cotto. My style matches up with him. I want to prove that I'm the best. And the reason we're so happy to get this fight is we do acknowledge how good a fighter and a good a champion Cotto is. And this is Paulie's opportunity to prove that not only does he belong, but he is the best out there and that's what he believes and I think that's what he's going to show on the 10th of June. So I'm just going to turn it over to Paulie Malignaggi. He'll say a couple of words, which he's never at a loss for, and then we'll open it up for questions.
PAUL MALIGNAGGI: Hey, I want to say what's up to everybody and I want to thank everybody for having me. And I'm going to reiterate what Lou said. I plan on shocking everybody. I plan on spoiling the show for a lot of the people that are expecting me to get stopped and a lot of people that think I'm going to be exposed as a fraud. I'm going to expose myself — I'm going to expose — the only thing that's going to be exposed is the fact I'm a world class fighter and everybody is going to realize that on June 10th.
MICHAELS WOODS, TheSweetScience.com: The first question for Paulie. Just got off a session with Cotto in which he said that after this fight, well this fight he's going to knock you out. If you slow down he's going to knock you out, and after this fight he's going to send you back to where you were fighting before, which is the clubs of New York. I'd like your response.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: New York is in for a rude awakening on June 10th. Tell him to keep talking. I'm going to break his face on Saturday night.
MICHAELS WOODS: Good response.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: He's playing with the wrong guy, believe me.
MICHAELS WOODS: All right. And this one's to Lou. Bob Arum was a little bit feisty in his call and he actually said that he's going to be — this promotion is going to be a little bit something different because he's going to bring back “the fun to boxing.” And he says a lot of the blame for lagging attendance, live attendance at fights as been because of promoters not actually promoting but just sort of playing front man for TV networks.
LOU DIBELLA: He said — well, I don't know about front men for TV networks but there are certainly a lot of promoters that don't promote. And I'll take a little credit here because Paulie's had his share of up and downs, but the kid promotes himself and he has been promoted. And there are a lot of promoters out there that — whose fighters don't get opportunities the way they should and whose events wind up having 40 or 50 people in the arena it looks like on television because they're in the business of just grabbing network money as opposed to working their assess off to garner attention. So I'm not willing to blame it on the network squarely like Bob is, but I will tell you that I do believe there are an awful lot of promoters in this day and age who don't promote.
JOHN ELIGON, NEW YORK TIMES: Hi, this is for both Lou and Paulie. Bob Arum, when he was talking a little bit about, you know, kind of the ethnic targeting of this card. I just wondered, what were you guys' thoughts on the fact that this targeting obviously sort of an ethnic group and how that could benefit support and whatnot.
LOU DIBELLA: Well, you have a Puerto Rican kid fighting in a city with the biggest Puerto Rican population outside of Puerto Rico against an Italian kid from the most Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn fighting in a city with a huge Italian-American population. You have the fastest growing ethnic group in New York, Mexican Americans, and you have Julio Cesar Chavez Junior fighting on this card. There are — John Duddy fighting on this card who’s an incredible draw to the Irish community, sold out the theater at the Garden himself. And you've got African American local kids who sell tickets like it's chocolate, and Curtis Stevens fighting on the card. I mean, it's just — it's a well constructed card with an idea of appealing to the many ethnic groups that are in this melting pot that's New York City. And that's old fashioned promotion and I applaud Arum for that. Paulie, do you want to say anything?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: Yes. Also there's Bobby Pacquiaofor the Filipino community fighting Kevin Kelley who is a pretty well known New York fighter back in the day, was a world champion. So I think you got a little something for everybody in terms of ethnicity and in terms of hometown fighters also.
JOHN ELIGON: How much does it mean to you to be a draw to Italian fans? You know, how much does that mean to you?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: It means a lot to me because I think boxing has faded a little bit in the Italian community. There's no real Italian fighters that have stepped up to the plate. Arturo Gattihas and he's going into the limelight of his careers. So it seems like somebody really has to take his spot and continue this tradition for Italian fighters because there's not many of us who can — who are carrying the sport for our ethnicity. So I believe I'm the one that has to fill those shoes.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Paulie, I want to ask you, a lot of the fans probably are more familiar with Cotto since he's been on HBO and national television a number of times. New York fans are familiar with you both from the local shows like Broadway Boxing and we've seen you in person. How are you going to approach him, because we know about his power? He's fought in the Garden before, and you’re somebody — you haven't had as many knockouts recently. How are you going to approach Cotto in this fight?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: I'll probably just fight the same way. I put in 100 percent mentally and physically for every opponent. Miguel Cotto, no different; he's nothing special to me. He's the world champion, so you have to give him respect for that, but as far as approaching him any differently, I don't approach him any differently. I come prepared and I bring the best Paul Malignaggi to every fight. And when you bring the best Paulie Malignaggi to every fight, it doesn't matter how good or how strong Miguel Cotto comes.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: How are your hands? You know you're going to get asked that every time you acknowledge that because you have had admittedly hand problems before. But how are they going to be for this fight?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: My hands are fine. I'll let you guys worry about the hand injuries. I'm pretty much done with that. I don't have any injuries. I don't have any problems with the hands. The only question mark I will leave up to you guys, if you guys want to ask those questions, because that's for me, it's not a question mark anymore.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Do you — tell us why you think you're ready for this fight because Cotto is by far the best guy that you're fighting?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: I feel I'm ready for this fight for a bunch of reasons. Number one, I’m healthy. I was just waiting to be healthy. I was always felt I was on a world class level. I just needed to be healthy to prove it because to be on a world class level you have to be able to compete at 100 percent. So now that I'm there, there's nothing stopping me. So I'm able to compete on this level. Another reason is also that I feel Cotto is a one dimensional fighter who besides knowing how to punch doesn't know how to fight. So on June 10th I’m going to expose him for what he is.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: OK. And last thing also is everybody knows on June 10th is the other show.
LOU DIBELLA: What show's that?
EDDIE GOLDMAN: (inaudible)
LOU DIBELLA: I didn't know there was another show.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Tell us why you think the fans should be either at Madison Square Garden live or watching this one on television on Pay Per View?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: Because we're carrying the sports of the next generation. This is the future of boxing on June 10th on display. It's two top, up-and-coming 140 lb fighters in the world fighting for a world title.
LOU DIBELLA: Surrounded by young fighters of quality up and down the card. I mean, you know. You have a kid named Tommy Z who's getting national press all over the place because he's a Notre Dame football player and a pretty good one, and Duddy is a sensation. No matter what you think of his ability, he happens to be a great kid, but whatever you think of his ability, he's one of the biggest ticket sellers in the state of New York and one of the biggest ticket sellers in the country. You've got a combined age in Atlantic City of about 80 years old and the past is AC. The future is in New York City.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Why do you think that HBO didn't decide to telecast this because we all…
LOU DIBELLA: You got to ask them. I have no — you got to ask them.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: OK.
LOU DIBELLA: It's been a long time since I made the decision.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Well obviously we know you didn't make this decision. OK, we'll see you in the Garden on the 10th.
ROBERT MORALES, LA DAILY NEWS: Hey, Paul, you know, I'm just wondering, and I ask you this question with all do respect. I'm not breaking your balls or anything, but it seems like this is probably your first taste of what I would call the world class limelight, you know, because a lot of people are going to see this. Often times rookies in other sports, when they get there to the big show for the first time they're a little humble, they don't talk a lot of trash. You have kind of done the opposite and I'm just wondering why, if that's just you or if you're trying to maybe make a name for yourself in this first taste of the big show, so to speak?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: Being myself is what got me here. Doing all the talking is what got me here. That's become my reputation so now that I'm on the big stage I don't have to change. I'm going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.
LOU DIBELLA: I can tell you that when —
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: With confidence.
LOU DIBELLA: I can tell you when he sat on my couch when he was zero and zero and hadn't had his pro debut yet, the same smack talk was there. I mean, his attitude has not changed any. I mean, he's been very consistent.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: Yes, well put.
ROBERT MORALES: That's kind of what I was looking for and I appreciate that.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: No problem.
LOU DIBELLA: Well I just hope, I know a lot of you guys are going to be covering the fight in AC. I hope that many of you will elect to realize that the future is here and certainly those who are closer to the New York area, I hope you'll be at Madison Square Garden. And if you're not, I think you're going to be reading about a really great fight on the morning of the 18th if you're sitting in your hotel room in Atlantic City probably wishing you were at the Garden.
ROBERT MORALES: Paulie, I was wondering since I know so little about you other than the fact that you're from New York City, which I love even though I’m an LA guy. Can you tell me a little bit about your life growing up, where you grew up at and what kind of a life you had? Just a little bit about your background.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: Well, I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I lived in Italy. I moved back. My family moved back to Italy when I was an infant. I lived there till I was six years old. I came back to Brooklyn. I was in Jersey for a few years and then I went back to Brooklyn when I was 15. I got into boxing because I was having some problems as a young teenager so I chose boxing. My family chose boxing to take me to the gym and keep me out of trouble. In a nutshell that's what got me up to this point so far.
LOU DIBELLA: Paulie's dad moved back to Italy. Paulie was living with his mom and stepfather, and he and his stepfather didn't see eye to eye that often. And then also, I mean, he was sort of — he had just gotten over here. He was getting into some trouble, not going to school. When he sat on my couch for the first time he said to me, “I’m living on my grandmother's couch. I need an apartment.” And I'm like, “Paul, you just won the national championships. You’ve only been fighting for three years. You’re sure you don't want to stick it out, go to the Olympics?” He goes, and he basically said, “I can't. I'm living on my grandmother's couch and I need to start my life.” And I figured that any kid that could have 36 amateur fights and win the US nationals had to be something of a prodigy and I kept getting calls from guys like Johnnie Bos and other old-timers in the business saying that Hank Kaplan, guys like that saying, hey I saw this kid. This kid's something special. This kid's got unusual speed. And he's Italian-American. You got to sign him. So that pretty much sealed the deal.
You know, Paulie, Paulie hasn't had the easiest rap and one of the things I admire about him is like, you know, I'm a — my parents were first generation Americans. Paulie is really a first generation American. His parents were Italian and his dad is back living in Sicily right now. So he's really, you know, he has the — he knows the immigrant experience and he came over here when he was six years old, and he came back here, he was fluent in Italian knowing basically no English. And now listen to his mouth, so.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: It's been a long time since then.
ROBERT MORALES: Hey, Paulie, how old were you when you started your amateur career?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: I was 16 years old when I started boxing. I was 17 when I had my first fight.
LOU DIBELLA: And at 19 he won the US amateurs.
ROBERT MORALES: Paul, what do you attribute that to? Obviously I know you're very fast and everything, but do you feel like you have a lot of what they call, you know, that God-given ability?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: I feel like I have a lot of God-given ability. I think that's a good point but I'm also very disciplined and I'm very hungry for what I want. And I put my mind to something and a lot of people have doubts about me and say that I can't do it. I'm going to do it and a lot of the drive comes from people doubting me. A lot of people say I can't do this and a big example is beating Miguel Cotto on June 10th. A lot of people say I can't do it and I'm in over my head and all that. A lot of people have those doubts about me so it's something. When you put those doubts out there and I know I can do something, I'm going to do it and I’m going to do it just to prove people wrong.
ROBERTO COLON, PRIMERA HORA: Yes. This is a question for Paulie. Paul, obviously, you know, everything's sort of been planned like to do this big festivity for Miguel Cotto on the Sunday after the card in the Puerto Rican national parade. So a victory of yours will really bring in surprise, but at the same time, you know, it's going to make a big dent in the plans of all of Puerto Rican people that are going to be celebrating and stuff. So I guess that also — you're using that as probably motivation for this fight.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: I'm not sure I'm using it as motivation. I have a lot of my friends are Puerto Rican at 20, and I’m not going to be spoiling their parade because they going to be rooting for me. I will go to the parade if I got invited. I don't know if I would be welcome there after beating Miguel Cotto, but it's motivation just because I think the whole show is surrounded around Miguel Cotto. Not necessarily the parade, just everything is basically revolves around Cotto, so and I’m like this, just a guy who just happens to be here. So that's the motivation. As far as the parade, like I said, I've got a lot of Puerto Rican friends.
ROBERTO COLON: OK. One more question. You mentioned that Cotto's a one dimensional fighter. The past fight, you know, he's been hurt on some occasions. You know, he went down against Ricardo Torres, (inaudible) also knocked him down. Have you seen those fights, you know, to analyze what went wrong in those fights for Cotto even though he won, to try to go use that angle to get the victory?
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI: Cotto fights the same way every fight. The guys that had him in some trouble are just the guys that knew how to fight him and maybe fought him a little differently. When Cotto looks good it's not because he looks good it's just his opponent was so poor and didn't know what to do with him. When Cotto looks bad, Cotto fought the exact same way as when we looked good, it's just the opponent knew what he was doing. So Miguel Cotto looks the same every fight. He's a one-dimensional fighter. He knows to do nothing but the same thing every time out. He's like a mummy.
Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch
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.?
The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia
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
Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9
Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7
Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4
Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10
Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10
Koki Kameda (Japan) #1
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
Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak
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.”
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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