THAI FIGHT

Richard Abraham opens up about his childhood and being focused on fighting and family

Richard Abraham (11-3) will welcome former Thai Fight ‘Super Champion’ Antoine Pinto (130-36-1) to GLORY Kickboxing tomorrow in the co-main event of, GLORY 38 at the Sears Center, Chicago. Abraham is undefeated in GLORY and on a four fight win streak since making his own GLORY debut a year ago at GLORY 27.

Abraham’s fighting career was influenced by his upbringing which, was a tough one for him and his siblings, after his Mom passed when he was 12 years of age. He and his brother, struggled to deal with the emotional anguish which, spilled over into violent aggression growing up, especially when insults would fly around amongst other youngsters. Eventually though, he learnt to curb his aggression and focused his energy instead on Muay Thai and winning various titles including the WKA world championships in Muay Thai and kickboxing.

Losing his Mom as a child and growing up fighting

“When I was younger I lost my Mom the I was 12 and back then the ‘your Momma’ jokes was like the biggest thing. So it was like your Momma this, your Momma that you know at time I’m angry. That turned into a lot of gifts for me, you know, my brother and I; people spout off about something, we try to give people a chance but people still get brave and get stupid you know. It’s just a fight to me, you win or lose, it’s not whatever.”

“I’m not overwhelmed but like I have to run a business, I have to provide for my family, have six kids, I train fighters, I personal train people and I train at a very high level. So what kinda takes priority in my life is I mean, for what I need to care about and that’s about it.”

Committed to the cause and no excuses

“A lot of people don’t want to put in the work, its easy to fall behind with excuses. No one would blame me if I said, man, I’ve got my family, I’ve got to support my family, you know. I can’t kickbox no more. No one would blame me, I don’t think anyone would. Just my life is so busy, I’ve got to run my business. Actually, I make less money because I’ve less time focusing on fighting, it’s not bad money, not phenomenal. I would make more money if I just focused on what I did. So I take a step back and look at what’s important in my life and what legacy I want leave and my kids to view me.”

“If you want something bad enough, you’ll make time for it if not, you’ll make an excuse.”

Pinto’s ring experience tremendously exceeds that of Abraham’s. However, the Chicago based fighter’s development over the years has gathered momentum and with his resolute mindset, the co-main event between both fighters will certainly make for a very interesting match-up.

Click here to listen and download the full podcast with Richard Abraham.

GLORY 38: Antoine Pinto feels he’s ‘on a different level’ to Richard Abraham

Multiple Muay Thai champion, Antoine Pinto will engage with Chicago’s Richard Abraham tomorrow night in the Sears Center at GLORY 38. The match-up will be Pinto’s GLORY Kickboxing debut after having fought for almost a lifetime under Thai rules and the fight itself is the co-main event of the night. Artem Vakhitovs vs. Saulo Cavalari will headline the event which, will be Vakhitov’s first title defence.

So why change over to kickboxing after winning Muay Thai titles for the last 12 years?

“I think my brother and I got to a point where we weren’t really having any challenge in fighting Muay Thai. We’ve been fighting at the top for many many tears now and I pretty much won everything that you can possibly want win against some of the best fighters already. I just felt there’s no more challenges.”

“We got an offer from GLORY to go fight there and I just felt this is good you know, this is new challenge for me, you know, new rules, new weight, new. Its just the fun again being the challenger again and not being the champion so its good.”

Making the transition from Muay Thai rules to GLORY Kickboxing

“People say that its gonna be so hard, you guys changing rules, this and that. We’re not coming from MMA, we’re not coming from football whatever, you know. Its still fighting, its the same you know, especially fighting in Thai Fight where we don’t actually get to clinch. The only thing that I say we don’t have is the elbows. So its not like that much different, you know I feel like its still very similar. I’m use to fighting three rounds, this is also three rounds. So I don’t find it that much different, is just the style that the opponent have that’s a little bit different to be honest.”

Antoine had given himself six months to prepare properly for his GLORY debut and adopt to the change of rules and fighting style which, is something that hinders many fighters before him, from transitioning form one rule-set to the other with a high volume of success. However, making the necessary adjustments doesn’t bother the 26 year old in the slightest and he’s confident of being the victor after fighting Abraham at GLORY 38 tomorrow.

“I mean I’m gonna have to be honest I had no idea who he was until they told me I’m gonna fight this guy so I had to look it up and see what he looks like and see some of his fights with my team, my trainers and he’s a decent fighter, you know, he’s pretty good. He’s good but you know, I mean no disrespect towards him; I still feel we on a different level you know, he’s still baby in this game. I’ve been fighting for so many years and he’s got what like 30 fights? I had that when I was 15.”

Click here to listen and download the full podcast with Antoine Pinto.

 

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.

Pinca

Peters vs Pinca – Photo credit: Bennie E Palmer II, Lion Fight Promotions

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.

Bellator 168, Florence – Kevin Ross: Bellator Kickboxing ‘doing it smart’ and amazed by mainstream exposure

Bellator Kickboxing returns to action on December 10 via Bellator 168, in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Kevin Ross will be taking on Alessio Arduino in what “The Soul Assassin” hopes will be a more technical fight compared to his previous visit to Italy when he defeated, Matteo Taccini via unanimous decision at Bellator 152. Also featuring on the Florence kickboxing card will be: Joe Schilling vs. Victorio Germano and Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson.

2016 has been a resurgent year for both kickboxing and Muay Thai with various global promotions such as: GLORY, Enfusion Live, Bellator Kickboxing, Kunlun Fight, Muay Thai Grand Prix, Yokkao, Thai Fight and Lion Fight, accumulating more mainstream media exposure (in the western world) than ever before for both rule sets of the striking arts.

Kevin Ross had recently guested on the Joe Rogan Experience with Gaston Bolaños following Lion Fight 31, in an excellent podcast that educated a much wider and different audience than both CSA Gym fighters normally have, about the difference in not only Muay Thai and kickboxing but also, the level of real world class striking compared to MMA. Most importantly, such media exposure (and more) is exactly what both sports need, in order to enhance the profile to the same level that pro boxing and MMA benefit from.

“Looking back to the majority of my career I never thought I’d still be fighting while kickboxing and muay thai was getting this kind of exposure. I never thought I’d be fighting on TV, ever! So for it to be happening and for it to be happening while I’m still active and a high level is amazing to me. You know I think back to not that long ago there was like, I don’t know if this was ever gonna happen.”

Ross was also optimistic about the long term direction in which Bellator Kickboxing were headed in and credited the promotion for not rushing too soon without first developing their brand of kickboxing and most importantly, their own kickboxing superstars that will generate a bigger fanbase into the future and safeguard the promotion’s viability too.

“This show is going to be amazing you know like I was saying before, its a little frustrating how slow it seems to be going but thats the way you have to do things correctly in order to build them up.”

“Thats the mistake a lot of promoters make and have made is that they try to go too big too early. They didn’t take the time to build up their talent, local talent, their exposure and then they do this giant show and then nobody shows up and they lose all their money and they’re gone forever. So, Bellator’s been really doing it smart, taking their time, you know, pulling in the big stars when they can and kinda slowly building their resume, its great to be a part of.”

Bellator 168 – Bellator Kickboxing, Florence:

Lightweight: Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) vs. Jordan Watson (48-11-2)

Flyweight: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)

Lightweight: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs. Alessio Arduini (26-14-2)

Middleweight: Joe Schilling (19-9) vs. Victorio Lermano (30-7)

Welterweight: Karim Ghajji (96-13-1) vs. Luca Novello (22-4-2)

 

Yokkao 19 & 20 – Post event review: ‘Pinca The Conqueror’ humbles Harrison and Watson ‘sherlocks’ Hodge

Fabio Pinca returned to the UK on, October 8 and secured a unanimous decision win over home favourite, Liam Harrison at Yokkao 19. These two legends of western Muay Thai were supposed to fight one another in France over the last 11 years, with Pinca suggesting in his post weigh-in interview that Harrison wasn’t too keen on taking the fight outside of the UK in the past.

The opening round was cagey with both fighters feeling each other out to begin with but from the second round onwards the tempo accelerated and both would increasingly engage one another. Pinca managed to cut Harrison on his left cheek (below the eye) in the third but the ring-craft, speed and tenacity displayed by both men was sensational. However, range control, switch hitting and that left kick of Pinca’s were decisive factors for the decision going against Harrison who, was always threatening with his explosiveness, fast hands and deadly low kicks.

Fabio Pinca vs Liam Harrison

Having previously defeated Reece McAllister at the Tanko Main Event in May (by decision), plus, Charlie Peters on Lion Fight 27 in the USA (at the start of the year) and now Harrison at Yokkao 19, ‘Pinca The Conqueror’ is clearly at the height of his powers. At 65 kg, it isn’t too easy to think of who else could even ask more challenging questions of him.

In his post-fight interview with K1ANOOP, Pinca confirmed he’d signed a multiple fight deal with GLORY Kickboxing and will next fight on the GLORY Collision event headlined by, Badr Hari vs Rico Verhoeven in Germany on, December 10.

Jordan Watson didn’t hesitate to show what his hands could do against Ben Hodge with some lovely body hooks landing throughout the fight. Hodge was under more pressure than Watson but the fight was by no means a one sided affair. Hodge was coming off a recent win over Saiyok Pumphanmuang at Thai Fight London in September, where he demonstrated his technical proficiency and good counterattacking skills on the back step. Something that would have given Watson more problems on the night (had Hodge found his range sooner) in-preparation for Giorgio Petrosyan who, he faces next at the Bellator Kickboxing event on December 10 in Italy.

Jordan Watson v Ben Hodge Yokkao 20

Jordan Watson v Ben Hodge

However, Hodge admitted in his post-fight interview that his emotions got the better of him in the ring – triggered off by the weigh-in drama the day before which, resulted in the fight no longer being a title defence for, Watson’s 70kg Yokkao world championship. Hodge summed up perfectly that both himself and Watson are intelligent fighters with intelligent coaches, so, the fight was always going to be determined by who, was more successful, in applying their tactical approach on the night at Yokkao 20.

Manachai surprisingly bulldozed his way through Panicos Yusuf for five rounds which, certainly came as a shock considering that Panicos is no pushover and can certainly stand his ground. Most of what Panicos tried to pull off on the night didn’t have any real impact on Manachai and it was as if the Thai was at times playfully throwing Panicos around – something I wouldn’t have fought would happen so easily. However, whenever the Thais come to fight in the UK, they always seem extra determined to give the Brits a damn good hiding.

Panicos Yusuf Yokkao 20

Panicos Yusuf vs Manachai

Maybe it wasn’t Panicos’s night and anything that could go wrong for him unfortunately did which, can happen. Or, is Manachai actually a hell of a lot better than the matchmakers had thought he was? Also, Panicos has become a lot more involved in the commercial world of combat sports as one of three directors of Tanko Management – has his commercial ambition taken away some of his hunger to fight like he use to?

Jack Kennedy continues to build even more momentum with his unanimous decision win over the powerfully talented Nathan Bendon. These two top quality fighters fought like a pair of tigers in the ring and the fight was full of entertaining yet technical violence. The bout was even dubbed as ‘fight of the night’ by colour commentator, Vinny Shoreman which, certainly sums ups how stacked the overall fight card was, especially when considering the likes of, Harrison and Pinca were one of two main events.

Bendon started well in the first couple of rounds but as the fight eventually went the distance, Kennedy was more efficient with his overall Thai boxing and seemed to frustrate Bendon. The future is very bright for both fighters, especially for Kennedy who, had recently won a 4-man Super Muay Thai tournament in Thailand prior to Yokkao 19 & 20.

Steven Long tremendously turned around his fight against Daniel Jedrzejezski after being cut in the outer corner of his right eye, in a terrible opening round for Long. However from the second round onwards it was all bout Long’s effective clinch-knee entry to pressure and eventually dominate Jedrzejezski.

By the end of the third round, Long’s clinching was proving too difficult for Jedrzejezski to deal with who, found himself on the end of another knee to the body that dropped him to the canvas. After surviving the count, he would find himself on the end of yet another knee but was fortunately saved by the bell as he buckled in discomfort. However, when the fourth round started it didn’t take long for Long to land another knee to Jedrzejezski’s body and the fight was over.

Overall, Yokkao 19 & 20 was without a doubt the best Muay Thai event of the year so far to be hosted in the UK, with exceptionally talented fighters showcasing their skill on both fight cards. Also, Harrison is reportedly set to return to action next month with further details to follow in due course.

As for the UK, if it hasn’t already established itself as a very strong nation for both Muay Thai (and K1 rules) yet to the rest of the world then apart from mainstream media coverage for the casual fans to take note, Thai boxing purists and global promotions can no longer ignore the UK scene; fast emerging as a global leader in the sport.

Yokkao 19 – Results:

Fabio Pinca def. Liam Harrison via UD, -65kg

Chris Shaw def. Jersey Pinto via UD, fight set at 73kg

Charles Sikwa def, Darren Howieson by UD, -86kg

Adi Woods def. Owen Trykowski via UD, -72.5kg

Steven Long def. Daniel Jedrzejewski by KO, Rd4, -69kg

Yokkao 20 – Results:

Jordan Watson def. Ben Hodge via UD, -70kg

Manachai def. Panicos Yusuf via UD, -63kg

Jake Purdy def. Brad Stanton via MD, fight set at 69kg

Amy Pirnie def. Ludivine Lesnier via TKO, Rd2, -50kg

Jack Kennedy def Nathan Bendon via UD, -65kg

Myk Estlick def. Carlos Campos via UD, -61.5kg