Tanko Muay Thai League have pulled out all the stops for their inaugural show on February 12, 2017 at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse, booking the return of one of the most feared men in Muay Thai, Michael “The Punisher” Wakeling.

Much like the Marvel comic book character, his reign of terror as “The Punisher” has held strong for 15 years and now he looks to continue his dominance when he re-enters the Muay Thai “War Zone” against Marco “The Sniper” Pique.

Speaking exclusively to MMA Plus, the man widely regarded as one of the top pound-4-pound fighters in the United Kingdom commented: “I’m looking forward to getting back into the ring and reminding everyone what I can do. I haven’t fought full Thai rules [FTR] for over 5-years now so I’m looking forward to showing everyone how to fight with elbows again.

“Even though I haven’t done FTR’s for a long time the prospect of competing under those rules don’t make me feel nervous at all because I’ve been training Muay Thai for over 20-years now so its what I’m used to so its like I’m returning home again.”

Currently riding a 31-fight unbeaten run, Wakeling – who trains out of the Scorpian Muay Thai Gym in London – has had well-documented trouble finding opponents, which has resulted in fleeting sightings, much like that of his Marvel vigilante counterpart, who prowls the streets of fictional New York district, Hell’s Kitchen.

“It’s always been hard for me to get matched for fights because of my reputation as a fighter, but one of the main problems is the lack of money in the sport in this country. The higher level you are, the harder it is to get prepared as it cost more money to get prepared for fights. Also there is a lack of money from sponsors in Muay Thai and K1 for that matter its hard to justify me dedicating my time preparing for these fights without the money.

“I think the main issue is that sport isn’t aired on television very often in the UK and without the TV coverage your gonna struggle to get sponsors and without the right level of sponsorship promotions are going to struggle to pay fighters what they deserve.”

Despite the re-occurring issues being matched, the 31-year-old remains positive and has big plans for 2017, starting with Dutchman Pique, who will effectively play the part of super villain “Bullseye” to Michael’s “Punisher” when the pair meet in February.

“Ideally I will fight three times next year but I am not looking past my next opponent. Marco Pique is someone I’ve know about for years and I’ve always considered him a tough fighter who like me is good at both K1 and Muay Thai.

“I know he prefers fighting with elbows [Muay Thai], his very fit and a very come forward fighter who likes to wear his opponents down hence why I think he likes fighting Thai rules and not K1 because it gives him the opportunity to wear them down and take them out n the later rounds.”

In his upcoming encounter, “The Punisher” expects nothing but fireworks when the two meet in the main event of Tanko Muay Thai League 1 and is sure they will both put on an epic show for the fans in Manchester.

“I’m going to have to be on my game to beat him, I’m going to need to be sharp and fully focused to beat him. I think our styles compliment each other which means we should put on a fantastic fight. I think its going to be an explosive encounter and I can’t see either of us taking a backward step when we step between the ropes which should make for an exciting fight.”