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.
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.
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.
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