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Articles of 2006

The Boxing Year Ahead




The year 2006 wasn't a bad one for boxing.

We had the Israel Vasquez-Jhonny Gonzalez slugfest. The Lamon Brewster-Sergei Liakhovich brawl. And the emergence of Manny Pacquiao as an unstoppable beast in the 130-pound division.

But '06 may just be a springboard to an outstanding '07—which promises to deliver the kind of thrills and chills that recent years have only approached.

Here are the most compelling matchups for the new year.

1. Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather: Why is '07 so promising? Because this gem is already signed, sealed and delivered for May 5 in Las Vegas. This is a fight that boxing needed—a fight that will draw in the casual sports fan and make the fight game meaningful again. Who knows? Maybe Sports Illustrated will take a break from golf and tennis long enough to put a boxing match on its cover again. That's how big this fight is going to be.

It offers all sorts of interesting contrasts and plots and subplots. Mayweather is the pound-for-pound king, but he has never fought at 154 pounds. De La Hoya is bigger, but will have not fought in a year by the time Cinco de Mayo rolls around. Mayweather has never fought anybody with the deadly combination of power, speed and experience that De La Hoya possesses. De La Hoya has never fought anybody with the supreme natural ability of a Mayweather. And, on top of all that, Mayweather's dad, Floyd Sr., will remain as Oscar's trainer. Even he wants to see his son get whupped.

You can say what you want about boxing. But the sporting world's eyes will be fixed on a patch of blue canvas on the first Saturday in May. And maybe that will be the impetus that catapults boxing to a bigger stage.

2. Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Manny Pacquiao 2: Surprising that this one would be so anticipated, considering the pounding that Pacquiao administered to Barrera three years ago. But, again, boxing needs this fight. Pacquiao is probably boxing's second-best pound-for-pound fighter behind Mayweather. And he is one of its top draws, along with De La Hoya. His chief nemesis is Barrera, one of the top fighters of his generation and one of the best pugilists in Mexican boxing history. This fight is a natural, and needs to happen before either (especially Barrera) gets older. Besides, Marco has maintained since '03 that his mountain of distractions leading up to the Pacquiao fight were the reasons for his horrible performance. He may have a point. He has yet to look that bad since. So, let's see, once and for all, who the better man is.

3. Wladimir Klitschko-Nicolay Valuev: We have to throw a heavyweight matchup in the mix, and what better spectacle than these two behemoths in the ring together? Klitschko is 6-foot-7, 245 pounds. Valuev is 7-foot, 325 pounds. And both hold heavyweight title belts. A showdown between the giants would go a long way in determining a legitimate heavyweight champion. Klitschko would be a favorite, since his skills are proven. But Valuev is more than just a circus-act, as he proved against Monte Barrett. The guy can do some things. It'd be more competitive than Klitschko-Calvin Brock, that's for sure.

4. Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe: Sadly, this one will probably never happen. Hopkins has gone on record saying that he doesn't see the point, that Calzaghe doesn't get him juiced up. (And Oleg Maskaev does?) Too bad. Because this would be as intriguing a showdown as boxing can offer. Calzaghe is a southpaw who demonstrated his ability in a March slashing of Jeff Lacy. He's got incredibly fast hands, and throws them in rat-a-tat-tat combination that makes life miserable for opponents. Hopkins, of course, is the master boxer who, despite his 40-plus years, is as well preserved as any fighter in boxing. The king of the middleweight division for more than a decade, including a record 20 title defenses, would the “Executioner” be able to devise a plan to beat Calzaghe? Besides that, Joe is younger and naturally bigger. Here's hoping that B-Hop changes his mind.

5 .Jermain Taylor-Winky Wright 2: The first fight, fought last June, was a classic. Both men displayed power, speed, and boxing skill. As well as grit and toughness. But, as fair as the draw verdict was, it was completely unsatisfying for the fighters and the fans. Wright, who incorrectly complained about the decision initially and sulked for a while, seems to be coming to terms with a Taylor rematch. He was typically brilliant against the smaller Ike Quartey two weeks ago, while Taylor appeared raw and amateurish in a decision over tough Kassim Ouma last week. Both remain in the pound-for-pound top five. All they need now is a boxing ring in which to fight. Let's get it done, guys.

6. Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito: Well, for those of us who severely underestimated Cotto and picked him to lose on Dec. 2 against Carlos Quintana, it's time to eat crow. And praise Cotto. What a performance the Puerto Rican sensation turned in, boxing brilliantly before putting the hurt on Quintana in the form of devastating body shots. There is no doubt now that Cotto is a welterweight—a huge welterweight who looks as strong and wide as an ox. Moving up from 140 to 147 pounds was the best decision Cotto could make. So what would happen against Margarito, another big, strong, hard-punching fighter who is hungry for stardom? The edge probably goes to Cotto, since Margarito struggled with the unranked Joshua Clottey, and often looked wild. But a Cotto-Margarito showdown would rekindle memories of classic Puerto Rican-Mexican showdowns like Julio Cesar Chavez-Edwin Rosario and Pipino Cuevas-Angel Espada. Besides, they have to wait for De La Hoya and Mayweather to finish their business anyway.

7. Ricky Hatton-Jose Luis Castillo: Lucky for boxing fans, Hatton abandoned his ill-advised hop up to welterweight and is back where he belongs at 140 pounds. Also lucky for boxing fans, Castillo stopped starving himself and is also campaigning at junior welterweight. The result, if they ever fight, could be one of the greatest wars in division history. How could it miss? The Englishman Hatton, with his relentless, bull-like style, vs. the Mexican Castillo, the seasoned, hard-punching veteran who is one of the toughest, hardest fighters of his generation. You'd have to go with Hatton, because he's younger and naturally bigger. But Castillo has made a career of doing the unexpected (upsetting Stevie Johnston in 2000, upsetting Mayweather in '02—even though he didn't get the decision; and upsetting Diego Corrales in the rematch). And he is a three-time lightweight champ. A war for sure.

8. Jorge Arce-Vic Darchinyan: Like Hopkins vs. Calzaghe, Arce vs. Darchinyan will probably never happen. Why? Well, Arce, after years struggling to make the flyweight limit of 112 pounds, moved up to junior bantamweight and the more comfy 115. Darchinyan, meanwhile, remains at flyweight, destroying everything in his wake. It's too bad. Arce, unpredictable, powerful and strong, would have been Darchinyan's most difficult challenge. There's still a possibility that, if enough money is dangled in front of their faces, it could happen. But both have other options (Lorenzo Parra and Pongsaklek Wongjonkam for Darchinyan and Nobuo Nashiro for Arce), and will probably pursue those.

9. Israel Vasquez-Jhonny Gonzalez 2: Why the hell not? Their first fight was filled enough violence to make Wes Craven cringe. And the end, with Vasquez rallying dramatically to save his title, was one of the best in-fight comebacks of recent memory. By virtue of the rematch rule (once a fighter is knocked out, he is usually knocked out faster in the rematch), you'd have to favor Vasquez. But Gonzalez was winning the fight for nine rounds. Maybe he can come up with another game plan.

10. Shane Mosley vs. winner of De La Hoya-Mayweather: There are some who believe that Mosley matches up better with Mayweather than does De La Hoya. Why? Because of his speed. Oscar still has some quickness, but not like “Sugar” Shane, who seemed to rediscover his blurring combinations in his rematch with Fernando Vargas. And, last we saw, Mayweather the speed demon didn't react well to speedy, aggressive opponents (remember the first four rounds of the Zab Judah fight?). Mosley isn't Judah. He's big, strong, determined and takes a hell of a punch. And he's been fighting guys twice his size (Winky Wright), so fighting someone smaller like Mayweather would be welcomed.

And, if De La Hoya upsets Mayweather? Nothing better than a defining rubber match. De La Hoya can't be thrilled about losing to Sugar twice, the second time controversially (some say dubiously). What about their Golden Boy partnership, you ask? Well, when millions of dollars are to be made, and a chance for a company to grow by leaps and bounds exists, that partnership makes even more sense. De La Hoya-Mosley 3? This is boxing. Stranger things have happened.


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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