23/11/2005 Battlefield Portugal was paved with Land Mines! By Larsenator
But this is exactly what was so good about this event. It drew a thick, bold line under the statement I keep sticking to: “There is a vast amount of world class fighters out there. Just because they do not fight on the big shows (yet) does not mean that they are not out there!” Quite a logic statement if you are into any kind of sport and this is what is so unique about SuperLeague. Battlefield Portugal saw eight new fighters entering the prestigious scene of SuperLeague with some making BIG waves and all of them putting up strong performances!
A fight night typically starts slowly – just like a real Muaythai fight. But SuperLeague changed the length of the fights a couple of events ago which made it pretty difficult for me as the EuroSport commentator to build up the Fight Club programme! The first fight got off like an explosion and people listening to me must have thought “oh my god” as I was overwhelmed by the technical level and the aggressiveness of both fighters. Karim Aliouane of RM Boxing in Paris, France was fighting at a SuperLeague event for the first time. His stable mates are tough and professionally trained Thai boxers but on this night he was in for a nightmare courtesy of another debutante. Thom Harinck who owns and runs the Dojo Chakuriki is responsible for bringing up fighters like three times K-1 World Grand Prix winner Peter the 'Dutch Lumberjack' Aerts; Perry the ‘Dynamite’ Ubeda; world champion female boxer Lucia Rijker; Patrick the ‘Viking’ Eriksson, Branko Cikatic etc. etc. etc. Tonight team Chakuriki was back with a HUGE bang and Amir Zeyada was showcasing beautiful Muaythai skills – not the style we have all come to call the Dutch style, but real Muaythai. It was beautiful and very brutal at the same time. It was very clear that Aliouane was well trained and knew the game of Thai boxing but Zeyada or the Sphinx as he is nicked was ALL over him from the first bell rocking his French colleague with text book techniques from flying knees to hard high kicks. I was amazed and simply blown away!
The 'Sphinx' displayed beautiful Muaythai techniques!
The fight went to the score cards but everybody knew that the new star of Chakuriki was the unanimous winner. Later on that night Thom Harinck told me that the ‘Sphinx’ has been with him since he was only eight years old. The sky is the limit for this young fighter!
The second fight of the night had to be loaded in order to live up to the mind blowing start of this event. The number one ranked middleweight fighter Kamal El Amrani was going up against the Czech powerhouse Petr Polak. The ‘Czech Thunder’ keeps on getting better and better all the time! At our latest event he fought hard and very convincingly against Fadi Merza who is also on a winning rampage these days. I went in to the locker room of Polak before his fight and talked a bit to Clifton Brown about the fact that the trainer of Polak, Radek Pastir only held boxing pads for Polak – they did not train any kicks while I was there…… But as soon as the bell rang it was very obvious that the ‘Czech Thunder’ had a specific game plan for the ‘Lion King’: He kept close to Amrani right from the start bombarding him with heavy hands and an occasional low kick. In a flurry of punches where the German based Moroccan fighter was cornered Polak threw a real hard one, two (left punch, right punch) followed up by a knee to the face which cut Amrani so badly that the doctor had to stop the fight. The performance of Petr Polak was so overwhelming and clear that the roof almost came of the Pavilhão Desportivo Lombos arena! Excellent performance by the ‘Czech Thunder’ who never gave the tough Amrani any chance to actually get into the fight!
The third fight of the night gave us all a kind of a breather. Or so I thought. Jose Barradas was the first home town boy and it was like the crowd had only used the two previous fights as a warm up ‘cause the roar when he entered the ring was playing tricks on my head set! He was facing the current WFCA Super Welterweight world champion Özkan Köse who was in Portugal to show everybody that he doesn’t wear that belt by coincidence. But it was apparent that the local fighter was not going to let his supporters down and he displayed a nice Muaythai style throughout the whole fight constantly controlling the wild swinging team mate of Amrani. Barradas was the first Portuguese fighter of the night and also the first local winner by unanimous decision.
Merza killed the leg of Vintila!
Christian van Venrooij has been absent from SuperLeague for a while. This night he was returning to the ring on Europe’s premier Thai boxing promotion against the younger brother of Jose Reis. Luis Reis had his first taste of stardom against Petr Polak at the Battle at the Bosporus event where he lost on points. The fight was a bit one sided as the experience of Venrooij was too much for him to handle and he took another points defeat. Venrooij looked like he was suffering from a tiny wee bit of ring rust but after wards he told me that he was really hungry to fight again on a regular basis so we can expect him to improve over the next couple of months for sure.
The ‘Gentleman’ Peter Crooke was up against the next local fighter. Miguel Marques had had 100 fights prior to this one and he is a former world champion in various disciplines (kickboxing with and without low kicks but also Thai boxing) so I wasn’t expecting and easy nights work for Crooke. But the experienced English fighter showed the world once again why he is onboard team SuperLeague by constantly getting the better of the exchanges. As a matter of fact Crooke never really allowed Marques to get into the fight resulting in a clear points victory for the ‘Gentleman’.
Muller had the WHOLE package!
Fadi Merza is another fighter who has improved drastically over the last couple of events. Last time he disposed of Petr Polak but tonight he was fighting a new comer who I knew nothing about. Florin Vintila is originally from Romania but he lives and trains in Portugal so the crowd was all hyped up over this fight too. When the bell rang it was VERY clear that Vintila is a world class Muaythai fighter. He carried him self like a real Thai fighter and had all the text book moves including the roughness of a true and tested champion. But the man of many colours is on a winning streak and if you think Merza looked drastically improved at the Vienna event then this was almost to impressive to comprehend! Merza was all over Vintila from the bell rang with everything from sharp, straight knees to dazzling boxing combos and of course his hard low kicks. Vintila never looked scared and he continued to fight for the win until Merza threw a low kick so hard that I could hear a scary noise even though I was wearing a head set. Vintila pulled a grimace and Merza knew that he was badly hurt. When the referee said fight again it didn’t take long for Merza to finish his opponent adding another victory to his fine fight record. Florin Vintila was devastated as he had come to fight all out. Personally I hope to see Vintila on a fight card real soon again as he has a warriors heart and fights like a true champion.
The next fight saw another return plus another debuting fighter. Seyed Ahmed Moinshirazi originates from Iran but lives in Germany. He was given the tough and demanding task of fighting the experienced Dutch fighter Sahin ‘Kaas’ Yakut who had just lost his father two months earlier. ‘Kaas’ was scheduled to fight on Simon Rutz ‘It’s Showtime Trophy’ event (at the first tournament) but had to pull out a couple of days before the fights because if this big tragedy. But now he was back and it was like he was proving to his father that he doesn’t need to worry about his son – “I can manage dad. Look at me!” It was quite touching to see ‘Kaas’ back in the ring – he looked VERY focused. He hammered in the trademark Dutch low kicks continuously and also spiced it up with good hand combos and a couple of flying knees. Midway through the second round the shin of ‘Picasso’ was so badly swollen that he could not continue to fight and Sahin Yakut was back in the winners circle with an impressive TKO win.
Cedric Muller was yet another strong fighter from RM Boxing who was new to the SuperLeague stage. He jumped in with a couple of days notice as the ‘Iron Fist’ got ill. Entering the ring he wore the old traditional Muaythai clothing including the Mongkong. With a stone cold look on his eyes he won the stare down against Portuguese fighter Jose the ‘Devils Advocate’ Reis. But as the fight got started it was clear the Reis could put his height advantage to good use. Muller endured several knee attacks to body and face and it looked like a pretty easy fight for Reis. But when Rachid of RM Boxing had done his work between the first and second round Muller was a totally different fighter. It was like he had used the first round to check out his Portuguese colleague as is the tradition in a real Muaythai war. Muller was now IN the fight putting all six weapons to good use and rocking Reis on numerous occasions. The fight swayed back and forth with Reis itching out the most points but my god did Muller do a fantastic job. When the fight was over he had continuously fought like a true warrior getting bashed by the long hands of Reis all the time and even adding a little nose bleed to the tall fighter from Team Never Shake. It was a close points decision for Jose Reis and when Reis was interviewed for the EuroSport viewers Muller left the ring to a massive standing ovation – as a matter of fact I could not hear what Jose Reis said even though I was wearing the head set!
Crooke controlling the fight!
Earlier on I interviewed the Canadian Muaythai sensation Clifton Brown. He was back to prove himself and he looked very focused and relaxed. His opponent was none other than the heavy handed Brazilian fighter Moises Baptista de Sousa who we all know knocked out the number one ranked super middleweight fighter Dimitry Shakuta. The first round saw ‘Gibi’ opening up with a HARD low kick that sent Brown to the canvas – the war was ON! ‘Gibi’ is known for his left hook but he had prepared a different game plan than what we normally see and it worked. It caught Brown and all of us by surprise as he continued to mix up his game with nice but hard low kicks, middle kicks and flashy hand combos. Brown looked very focused and sharp but ‘Gibi’ was overwhelming him. It was an all out war for two rounds but early in round three the Brazilian hit Clifton Brown so hard with his hands that he went down big time. When he tried to get up he was wobbling all over the ring but Brown showed true heart as he kept on fighting to get on his fight and eventually did so. The referee asked Brown if he was ready to fight and what his name was and the brave Canadian answered: “Yes. My name is Clifton Brown.” The fighters were let loose again and ‘Gibi’ immediately attacked with his heavy hands again hurting Brown another time leaving the referee no other alternative than to call it a day. ‘Gibi’ is back in the hurt business and took this one by big knock out!
The last fight of the night also saw two newcomers. Alexandre Cosmo of Brazil was facing Lorand Sachs of Germany. The fight swayed back and forth with the Brazilian taking the upper hand. In round three Sachs sustained a nasty cut and the doctor had to stop the fight leaving Cosmo the winner by DSC.
Overall it was another night of world class fights with a lot of huge upsets which just goes to show that just because a promotion doesn’t bring in well known names it can still be one of the best promotions with fights on the highest possible level!