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Articles of 2006

Brooklyn’s Finest No More




I should’ve heeded the warning last Thursday afternoon when Zab “Super” Judah took to the stage for his final press conference before his welterweight title defense against the unheralded and seemingly overmatched Carlos “Tata” Baldomir. What is it about fighters sensing something in each other, radiating pugilistic vibes that only they can pick up on? Former Golden Gloves champion Gary Hope turned to me after taking a quick look at Judah and said plainly, “He doesn’t look right.”

That assessment, as unsubstantiated as it sounded then, turned out to be all too true Saturday night as Zab Judah, Brooklyn’s prodigal son, dumbfounded the boxing nation by losing a narrow unanimous decision to the 13-1 underdog.

Judah’s supposed celebratory homecoming began after one of the greatest cruiserweight fights in history (I know that’s not saying very much). After putting on his own unique, sub-par version of the rope-a-dope in which he took heavy shots to the head and body for the first half of the fight, O’Neil “Supernova” Bell came back with a vengeance to knockout Jean-Marc Mormeck in the tenth round of their unification fight. Despite entering the ring as the best-dressed fighter since Roy Jones, Jr.donned the tuxedo years ago (the Frenchman wore similar garb with a long black tie), Mormeck lost the battle in the ring and along with it his WBA and WBC titles.

Bell, now the undisputed cruiserweight champion, survived the battle of attrition with his granite chin and surprisingly good conditioning, ultimately discouraging the Frenchman into submission.

“I was able to sustain his best shots which broke his spirits and I knew then that I would win.”

To watch Bell topple Mormeck was one thing, but if you could’ve predicted what was to happen next then you truly have the powers of the greatest of soothsayers. With a few of his hometown homies in the ring rapping the song “Brooklyn’s Finest,” their diamond-studded bodies sparkling for all to see, it was time for the Judah party to begin. In a flash, their hero was in the ring and the chants of “Super” echoed throughout the crowd of 4, 735 at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

The large Brooklyn contingent welcomed their champion into the ring for what they thought would be an easy night for their beloved fighter. Judah himself was so sure of victory that he had already apologized to Baldomir for being the unlucky one that stood in his path.

“Come Saturday night, I’m sorry you’re in this position but it’s gotta happen. I got Brooklyn on my side, what do you have?”

Even Yoel got into the mix of prophesizing. “This guy came out of nowhere and he’s got a problem. Tata’s first and he’s gotta have it first,” predicting a three-round knockout.

Poor Carlos Baldomir, alone in a foreign, hostile world, readying himself to do battle with Superman and his posse. All he had to hold onto was the spirit of the all-time great and fellow Argentinean Carlos Monzon, whose trainer, Amilcar Brusa, was working his corner on this the eleven year anniversary of the fighter’s untimely death (Baldomir, a better fighter than chronologist, believed it to be ten years). In a telling tale of Judah’s state of mind, he showed blatant disrespect for his opponent by inexplicably punching Baldomir on his thigh, instead of touching gloves,as they met in the center of the ring. He was immediately warned by Arthur Mercante, Jr., but the psychological damage was already done as the determined Baldomir seemed that much more anxious to get at Judah for his lack of respect.

The Zab Judah show was in full effect for the first three rounds of the fight and you got the sense that Baldomir’s toughness wouldn’t outweigh the fact that he was simply outclassed. A crafty southpaw, Judah was executing his game plan by utilizing his angles, speed, and counterpunching. Sharp, crisp punches were catching Baldomir as he pushed forward, but the Argentinean’s attack was only momentarily deterred and he began his stalking once more.

Then the most fascinating moment happened that changed everything at the end of the fourth round. It wasn’t that Baldomir flurried to win the round; it was the big smile on his face when the bell rang that told the story. That expression of supreme confidence had a message for Mr. Judah: “If that’s all you have then you’re in trouble because I’m just getting started now.” Heading back to his corner, “Brooklyn’s finest” knew that this wasn’t going to be an ambush as he first thought; it was going to be a full-fledged war. After urging Judah to hit him on the chin in the following round, signifying the fact that the champion’s punches were doing little damage, the stage was set for the spirit of Carlos Monzon to come alive in the hands of Carlos Baldomir.

With Judah moving backward against the ropes, Baldomir launched a straight right hand that buckled Super Zab’s legs. He survived the round by doing his wobble dance ala the Kostya Tsyzu fight, and when the bell rang Judah walked around the ring pointing to his head, feeling the need to show us how smart he was for making it through the round without touching the canvas.

If Carlos Baldomir with his 12 knockouts in 56 fights, obviously not known for his devastating punching power, had Zab Judah badly hurt then what does that say about his ability to take a punch? He never did go down in the fight, but after that fateful seventh round in which he was humiliated in front of his beloved Brooklynites, the tide had turned for good. Judah fought back and made the fight close, but there was something gone inside of him and his mind seemed to drift off into oblivion.

Controversy stirred after the fight as Judah blamed his promoter, Don King, for taking so much of his time to promote the fight. Of course that’s the reason why he wasn’t able to train hard or be focused for this fight. Brazenly, with Don King looking over his shoulder during the post-fight interview, Judah thought Showtime’s telecast was a good time to dump his frustration, going as far as saying, “I have a F***** up promoter.”

Similar to the chair incident after the embarrassing first round loss to Kostya Tsyzu in which he was angry with the referee, Zab Judah lost control and made another terrible mistake. Even though King seemed to take it in stride, saying at the post-fight press conference, “That’s okay, they’ve been blaming me for everything for as long as I can remember. The Johnstown Flood, the Sinking of the Lusitania, the San Francisco Earthquake, Krakatoa—everything but Hurricane Katrina,” the animosity between the two is as clear as day. Since Judah’s a moneymaker he won’t be thrown to the dogs just yet, but if there’s one person in this business that you don’t want to cross if you’re trying to make a living in the sport, it’s Don King.

Anyway, Judah has no one to fault for his lackluster performance but himself. He didn’t have to be in his brother’s corner a couple of hours before his title defense. He didn’t have to take time off from training and he didn’t have to have his leaching posse follow him around everywhere telling him how indestructible he is. The fact is that in this sport of ruthless precision, no matter how talented you are, if you’re not in fighting shape both physically and mentally, then you put yourself in grave danger. Let’s hope for Zab Judah’s sake that he learned a valuable lesson Saturday night and can now rededicate himself and climb back to boxing’s respectability.

As he was busy playing with his two-way pager and talking on the phone while waiting for Don King to end his post-fight rant so he could say a few quick words, you couldn’t help but to see through the guise of Zab Judah. Like a child unwilling to face the truth, Judah stood in front of a packed audience and pretended that nothing was wrong. If you hadn’t seen the fight and you simply looked at the two combatants, then you might have thought that Judah had defended his titles successfully. But of course that was not the case no matter how badly Judah wished it to be.

Mr. Only In America had already accepted his fighter’s defeat, saying, “He (Baldomir) put on a show good enough to convince the judges.” The dancing dollar signs running through Don King’s head were already in full motion and thus he was far too preoccupied to worry about the mental state of his fighter. “Santa Fe, Argentina on the pampas,” he quipped, already working his manipulative words to soften up Baldomir and his Sycuan Ringside Promotions team. Ironically, Mike Marley, a former Don King man, is now working for Sycuan and couldn’t have had a bigger smile of redemption on his face after the fight. To his credit, he told me days earlier, “Baldomir is going to be the new welterweight champion.”

The fighter himself also believed this was going to be his time to shine.

“I feel as though I have the right promoter at the right time,” Baldomir said. “Sycuan has come into my life just when it is my time to win a world championship at 147 pounds. Some things in life are meant to be.”

That may ultimately hold true for Judah as well if he can use this defeat as an incentive to come back with a vengeance. No matter how far he wants to detach from reality though and awake from this nightmare as if nothing happened, the truth is that Carlos Baldomir is the new WBC welterweight champion and the other two major belts are now left vacant. Judah can make excuses all he wants why he lost the fight,  blaming the judges, Don King, God, whoever, it still will not change the reality of the situation. Losing your titles must disheartening in itself, but losing the biggest payday of your career and a chance to fight for pound-for-pound glory seems that much more painful.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is now off the radar screen, much to the chagrin of Don King, who was poised to hit the jackpot. Despite Judah’s shocking defeat, King made it clear that he believed a focused Judah would be the only fighter capable of beating Mayweather, Jr.

“Judah has to refocus, redouble, rededicate, get up, dust himself off and come back,” King said. This is a pause, a refresher. Floyd got away again, but I don’t see anyone else out there beating him.”

There seems to be only tough love in the Judah family, which may be a blessing for the bloated ego of Super Zab. Yoel Judah, the patriarch of the family and trainer of the now many fighting brothers, will surely have his star son better prepared for his next fight. On the way out of the arena, Judah senior said, “I don’t feel bad for him at all,” referring to Zab losing his titles. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise for Judah and will help ignite the fire within him that seems to have gone out. But only he can revitalize his spirit and only he holds the key to whether or not he has the burning desire to fight through the adversity that professional boxing delves out. Daddy cannot give him that unrelenting, impenetrable determination that his opponent, Carlos Baldomir, displayed to capture the welterweight championship. It’s time for Zab Judah to stop acting like a child and take responsibility for his own actions. It’s disappointing to see such a great talent stoop to such an immature level by cursing out his promoter on television and playing the role of martyr.

2006 was supposed to be a beautiful year, according to Zab Judah: “I know what I want to do. There’s no one who can do what I can do this year if I have the opportunity.”

Well I guess this fight wasn’t an opportunity, rather it was more of a chore that he was waiting to get over with. Now Judah needs an opportunity to prove to his fans and the boxing world that this performance was just an aberration. He also needs to work hard to reinvent his image after tarnishing it with his bloated ego and spoiled-brat attitude.

The now former undisputed welterweight champion stood confidently at the podium during the pre-fight press conference and envisioned that this New Year would be his coming of age, the year in which he would prove his greatness by fighting and beating the best.

Now, just days after basking in his self-righteous glory, he’s left not to prove his greatness, but rather to salvage both a sense of dignity and a promising career that is in serious danger of being permanently derailed. He is Brooklyn’s finest no more, at least until he demonstrates that he’s capable of being a man deserving of champion adulation.

Articles of 2006

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, 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




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


Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

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

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

David A. Avila



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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