In this episode of The Striking Corner podcast, Eric and Vinny are back after an extended Easter vacation and decide to do this episode sans guest in order to catch up on some news from the world of Muay Thai & Kickboxing. They discuss Bellator Kickboxing, our upcoming Striking Corner seminar featuring Fabio Pinca, and the much talked about rumor regarding a potential dream match up between Yodsanklai and Buakaw for a whopping one million dollar fight purse! In addition, the debate over In-N-Out Burger versus Five Guys continues and a special announcement about a new run of Striking Corner/Muay Thai is Life shirts! Check it out!
Kunlun Fight have certainly made their mark on world kickboxing in 2016, with a series of 70kg 4-man tournaments throughout the year, building up-to their year end extravaganza in China. The new year’s day event will focus on the Kunlun World Max finals, featuring: Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana and Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef; headlined by, Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin.
Kunlun have featured a good few Thais on their events as they established themselves in Southeast Asia initially, with Buakaw being one of their key name fighters. Along with Artur Kyshenko as they have expanded, focusing more on attracting fight fans from the western world.
Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana
Kiria is a former GLORY lightweight champion and now trains with Nieky Holzken; Joining the recently dethroned GLORY welterweight champion at Team Holzken this year.
Kiria made the move in an attempt to rejuvenate his kickboxing career after mixed results in the last couple of years. The change has done him well resulting in a couple of wins against Robbie Hageman at Kunlun Fight 48 and Dzianis Zeuv at Kunlun Fight 52 – both by decisions and part of the overall qualifying process for the Kunlun World Max.
Jomthong on the other hand is a master of various striking skills and rule-sets including, a pro boxing record of 9-1 and three continental titles. He is also a three time Rajadamnern stadium champion but really made his name in Muay Thai with a huge win over Anuwat Kaewzamrit for the WBC featherweight crown in 2008.
Of the two, Jomthong has been the more active this year with six wins from seven fights, the majority of which were on Kunlun events this year including a notable decision win over Buakaw’s opponent on the night, Tian Xin at Kunlun Fight 53.
Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef
Of the four fighters in this year’s Kunlun Max semi-finals, Superbon is most probably the favorite to win the tournament, having defeated Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong at Kunlun Fight 48 in the previous round. The win was a rematch for the two following on from Kunlun Fight 37 where Superbon was on the wrong end of a knockout in the semi-finals of the Kunlun Max event in 2015.
Before Superbon had leveled the aggregate score, Sitthichai, who is currently the GLORY lightweight champion, had been undefeated for the 21 consecutive months, collecting nine wins in a row. The list of world class kickboxers that he had seen off in the last two years included: Mohamed Mezouari at Kunlun Fight 43, Marat Gregorian (twice), Robin van Roosmalen at GLORY 31 and even Davit Kiria (with a brutal knee to the body) at GLORY 28.
Cedric Manhoef is the ‘dark horse’ of the semi-finalists and although he has the heart of a lion and does his family name proud by hardly ever taking back steps in the ring (Melvin Manhoef is actually his nephew – yes, you read that right); the 23 year old is very much a work in progress still. However, Superbon cannot afford to underestimate the Surinamese fighter with any complacency to progress successfully to the final.
Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin
Buakaw has been fighting for the Chinese promotion since Kunlun Fight 32 in October 2015 and has had a great deal of success, excluding of course, the most controversial decision loss of 2016 against Yi Long at last month’s WLF event in Nanjing, China.
As for how Xin will fare against the living legend and ‘old skool’ K-1 veteran remains to be seen. However, from the Chinese kickboxer’s clash with Andrei Kulebin at Kunlun Fight 50 there’s a possibility that Buakaw could possibly capitalize on Xin’s fighting style with strong clinch-knee entries.
Nevertheless, Buakaw vs. Xin has all the makings for an exciting headlining fight in Sanya on January 1, 2017 since both have the ability to fight well at a high tempo. The new year will be very interesting to see if and how the talented Chinese fighters like Xin can enhance their profile globally along with the continued growth of Kunlun Fight.
Kunlun Fight 56 – Fight card (and order of fights):
Abdullayev vs. Ma Shuo, 75kg
Denies Puric vs. Wang Wenfeng, 60kg
Felipe Stievano vs. Andrey Gerasimchuk, 100kg
Mohamed Mezouari vs. Dzianis Zuev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max
Arthit vs. Khatal Dzhaniev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max
Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana, 70kg – Semi-final A, Kunlun World Max
Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef, 70kg – Semi-final B, Kunlun World Max
Andrei Kulebin vs. Wu Xuesong, 70kg
Sergii Kulaiaba vs. Gu Hui, 67kg
Winner of semi-final A vs. winner of semi-final B, 70kg Kunlun World Max
Juan Javier Barragan vs. Wei Ninghui, 65kg
Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin ,70kg
Fabio Pinca in ongoing negotiations with Enfusion Live but focused on fighting Manowan Sitsongpeenong
Fabio Pinca was reportedly set to compete in the 67kg Enfusion League in February 2017, according to Enfusion’s two-weight champion, Ibrahim El Boustati, who made the revelation prior to defeating Andrew Tate for the, 90kg world championship at Enfusion Live 44.
However, Pinca has now confirmed that he hasn’t yet agreed final terms with Enfusion Live and that talks are still ongoing with the Dutch based promotion who, had recently announced, exclusive European fight deals with Buakaw and Yodsanklai.
“I don’t know for the moment you know. I’m ongoing negotiation so I can not tell you anything about that. Everything, I don’t know for the moment. I can not tell you anything but soon you’re gonna know.”
It’s sounding promising that we will have an update soon enough on a possible deal between Enfusion and Pinca being confirmed in the early part of the new year. The Striking Corner will be monitoring how the situation unfolds and reporting again in due course.
Interestingly, Charlie Peters who, Pinca defeated by decision at Lion Fight 27, recently qualified for next year’s 67kg Enfusion League, by winning the 8-man qualifying tournament in Abu Dhabi at Enfusion Live 45. Since Peters qualified, strong rumours have emerged of a possible rematch between Peters and Pinca but separate from the league concept; and that this proposed matchup under Enfusion rules, could be one of the talking points between Pinca and Enfusion.
The current year has been a very active one for Pinca and 2017 is looking to be another busy year for the Muay Thai maestro who, has fought seven times this year. One of those being his recent decision victory at GLORY 36 against, Mosab Amrani which, was a also rematch between the two but under GLORY Kickboxing rules; whereas the first fight (and decision win for Pinca) was in a 2011 tournament final on Thai Fight.
Nevertheless, Pinca is focused on his next opponent, Manowan Sitsongpeenong, in what will be a 67kg title fight at the Sanam Muay Rajadamnern (Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium) on February 23, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.
“First focus is Rajadamnern title on February 23. So I got to Thailand, Bangkok and take the, to the take the belt, Rajadamnern versus Manowan Sitsongpeenong. That’s the first focus for 2017. 67 kilos.“
“And the second focus is the GLORY belt at 65 kilo. At the moment that’s the two focus I have on my mind. It’s Robin [van Roosmalen] if he defend his belt. I know he’s putting his title on January so maybe its him, maybe its another, I don’t know.”
Click here to watch the full video podcast with Fabio Pinca giving the rundown on his recent victory over Mosab Amrani which, was on the undercard to GLORY Collision: Rico vs. Badr and some interesting things he had to say about: Saenchai, Liam Harrison and Giorgio Petrosyan.
Muay Thai legends Yodslanki and Buakaw will be fighting on Enfusion Live in 2017 (against opponents yet to be announced) as was confirmed by Enfusion earlier today to the Striking Corner; and it should be noted that Enfusion have made these agreements alone and not in partnership with any other promotion(s).
The breaking news follows on from Fabio Pinca joining the 67kg Enfusion League in the new year. 2017 is looking to be a an even busier year for Pinca who, had also confirmed after defeating Liam Harrison at Yokkao 19, that he’ll also be making his return to GLORY Kickboxing on what has since been confirmed against, Mosab Amrani on December 10 at GLORY 36 – the same night and preceding, GLORY Collision: Rico vs Badr in Oberhausen, Germany.
Earlier this year at Enfusion Live 37, the 72.5kg Enfusion League commenced consisting of: Mohammed Jaraya, Nordin Ben Moh, Jonay Risco, Serginio Kanters (who will now be replaced due to weight cutting issues at Enfusion Live 43), Crice Boussoulou and Tayfun Ozcan.
The 72.5kg Enfusion League returns in February 2017 and will include a mouthwatering rematch: Mohammed Jaraya vs Nordin Ben Moh – both of whom fought one another at Enfusion Live 37 in undoubtedly was one of the most spectacular fights of the year.
It isn’t only Kunlun Fight who have deep pockets to pay the big fees that attract the likes of Buakaw to fight for them. Enfusion have made a statement to the big boys i.e. GLORY and Bellator Kickboxing with this announcement, having organically developed their brand of kickboxing since 2008. The promotion started their journey with Enfusion Reality which, was a reality TV kickboxing show and featured: Eddie Walker, Cyrus Washington, Warren Thompson, Julie Kitchen and Andrew Tate as contestants.
The Striking Corner will bring you more news on both the 67kg Enfsuon League featuring Fabio Pinca and further updates on who and when both, Yodslanki and Buakaw will be fighting in the in the new year too for Enfusion.
GLORY Kickboxing continue to add strength to their roster of world class kickboxing talent, by signing up two of Thailand’s most talented young fighters: Thongchai Sitsongpeenong and Petpanomrung Kiatmoo9 – exclusively reported by Anoop Hothi.
The addition of two more Thais reinforces GLORY’s intention to establish themselves in both Thailand and Southeast Asia (with Saenchai and Sittichai Sitsongpeenong having already fought for the promotion) as they look to expand their brand of kickboxing across new TV markets in different continents as they had outlined in their post press conference at GLORY 31.
However, Petpanomrung had been tipped for great things especially earlier this year, following a decision victory in May at the Rajadamnern stadium, over Phetmorakot Wor Sungprapai – full fight video below:
The transition from Thai rules to kickboxing shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for Petpanomrung who, has a fighting style that is technically proficient but capable of coming forward aggressively (so hopefully there won’t be any ISKA judging or refereeing controversies on his GLORY debut).
As for Thongchai who, fights out of the same gym as GLORY’s world lightweight champion, Sitthichai (hence, Sitsongpeenong is their second name and is quite common for Thais to publicise their gym affiliation in this manner), he is only 20 years of age; whereas Petpanomrung is apparently 22/23 years old.
Thai boxing purists will know too well that Thongchai became a Lumpinee stadium champion at the age of 18 and one month later would knock out Khayal Dzhaniev (one of only a few men in the world to have defeated Buakaw); and if that wasn’t enough for any ‘noob’ of a kickboxing fan to take him seriously, Thongchai would then go on to defeat French-Italian Muay Thai legend, Fabio Pinca, a year later too.
Below is a recent fight of Thongchai vs Adrien Rubis (at Topking World Series – TK7):
Both of the above Thais will undoubtedly raise the bar of competition within GLORY who, have have been strongly criticised by fans in recent years, for the questionable ways in which some but not all of their kickboxers (lack much or any professional kickboxing experience), have managed to develop a career on the ‘world’s number one’ kickboxing promotion.
Petpanomrung is expected to fight at featherweight where, Gabriel Varga is the current GLORY featherweight champion (having regained the title from Serhiy Adamchuck at GLORY 32). Whereas Thongchai is expected to fight at welterweight and it will be very interesting to see if and when he can secure a title fight with GLORY’s undisputed welterweight champion, Neiky Holzken.
Two other fighters that have also been newly signed-up by GLORY (but are not Thais) are: Adel Ekvall Halila from Sweden and Konstantin Khuzin from Russia.
An interesting fact about Adel Ekvall Halila (apart from being technically good in all departments and competent in both orthodox and southpaw stances) is that in 2015, he was runner-up to another kickboxing Swede in the GLORY lightweight division, Abdou Karim Chorr. The two had previously met in the WKN Scandinavian (4-man tournament) final last year and Chorr who, won his GLORY Kickboxing debut at GLORY 29 in April, hasn’t fought since then. So, perhaps a (second) rematch between the two Swedes (they are 1-1 against each other) in the near future (on a European card) could be in the works as a potential decider between the two – similar to Murthel Groenhart and Nieky Holzken who fight again in December?
As for Konstantin Khuzin, the Russian is expected to fight at welterweight; and comes from a strong Thai boxing background like fellow countrymen, Artem Vahitov (GLORY’s current light-heavyweight champion) and former GLORY middleweight champion, Artem Levin who, no longer fights for the promotion after one of the most controversial rematches in recent times, forfeited the rematch with Simon Marcus at GLORY 27.
Khuzin had recently fought (but lost a decision) on the Tatneft Cup show against Nikolay Lushin:
Do you think GLORY are improving the overall level of competition by signing up more Thais or do they need to a lot more then this, especially in appealing to new fans in the North Americas? Let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to subscribe to K1ANOOP on YouTube for exclusive interviews from the world of kickboxing too).