‘Smokin’ Jo Nattawut retained his super welterweight world title and held firm on his grip as a two-division champion with a thoroughly dominating performance at Lion Fight 33 held Friday night at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Only four weeks ago in Las Vegas, Nattawut became a two-division champion when he claimed the middleweight crown with a unanimous decision win over fellow Thai Malaipet Sasiprapa. Nattawut (60-6-2) was even more dominant in dispatching European rising star Hasan Toy (19-9) as he retained his super welterweight championship with a unanimous decision verdict.
After an opening round that saw both fighters exchange strikes in the middle of the ring, Nattawut took full control of the bout as he continually crushed kicks into Toy’s body. By the time the third round ended, Toy’s ribcage was massively bruised and the Turk fighter was unable to fend off Nattawut’s repeated attacks. The one-sided assault continued as Nattawut landed kicks and knees to Toy’s midsection, and to put an exclamation point on the result, Nattawut crunched an elbow strike to Toy’s face with seconds to go in the final round.
All three judges scored the bout 50-45 for Nattawut, who left no doubt as to whom he wants to face next. For the second straight time during a successful post-fight interview, Nattawut put out a challenge to square off against the legend Yodsanklai Fairtex.
“He is the king. If I beat him, then I am the king,” said Nattawut of the former Lion Fight, WMC and Lumpinee Stadium champion.
“Everybody has a plan till I kick them,” added Nattawut of his performance against Toy. “I wanted to destroy the arm, the body, and get him tired. That was the plan.”
Eersel plows through Purdy to win super middleweight crown
Regian Eersel was the last man to beat Nattawut when he scored a highlight-reel fourth-round knockout in a non-title bout at Lion Fight 29. Eersel went from that thunderous debut to becoming a champion in his own right at Lion Fight 33 when he blitzed England’s Jake Purdy on his way to a devastatingly vicious outcome.
In the opening round, Eersel (44-4) hit Purdy with an uppercut-hook combination putting him on the mat, and while that was mistakenly not scored a knockdown, the Dutch fighter did score the knockdown moments later with a straight right. Purdy stepped out for the second round but found himself walking straight into a hornet’s nest. A perfectly placed uppercut put Purdy down again. He rose off the canvas only to be felled by yet another cracking uppercut. The fight was surprisingly allowed to continue by the referee but only for a few more seconds until Eersel blasted Purdy (27-7-1) with a knee that splayed him out face-first on the deck. Eersel’s 18th career knockout finish came at 2:41 of Round 2.
“I prepared myself for a hard fight against a very good opponent. I have a lot of respect for him but you know I go for the quick knockout so I did,” said the 23-year-old new champion, who is originally from Suriname.
“I jumped with the right knee … and there he goes. I am dangerous when my opponent has his back against the ropes.”
Shevchenko breezes past Wijmans to retain lightweight belt
The other reigning champion to see action was women’s lightweight title-holder Antonina “The Panther” Shevchenko as she took on Dutch challenger Ilona “The Iron Queen” Wijmans. Shevchenko (38-1) cruised through her first title defense at Lion Fight 31, and had only a little more resistance to overcome this time out as her technical attack of punches and kicks outclassed the bull-rush approach of Wijmans (45-6-1).
Shevchenko, who fights out of Lima, Peru, dominated for the full fight and won with a clear-cut unanimous decision, earning 50-45 nods from all three judges.
Prior to the title bouts, veteran mixed martial arts competitor Chip Moraza-Pollard ventured into Muay Thai action for just the second time in his career yet he put forth a masterful performance to take out well-seasoned combatant Brett Hlavacek.
Moraza-Pollard (2-0) cracked Hlavacek with a left hook in the second round and then proceeded to further damage his opponent with punch combos and leg kicks. The speed and precision displayed by Moraza-Pollard was far too much for Hlavacek (17-4) to overcome, and the Plymouth, Massachusetts, competitor wrapped up the fight with a stiff elbow to the jaw with 45 seconds to go. Shockingly, the ringside judges posted a split-decision outcome although Moraza-Pollard was able to come away victorious (50-45, 47-48, 48-47).
“I have seen thousands of Muay Thai fights over the last 20 years and I would say that was the best performance I have seen from a guy with one fight in this sport,” noted AXS TV Fights commentator Michael “The Voice” Schiavello. “He’s fighting like a guy with 50 or 60 fights under his belt. I am blown away by how good Moraza-Pollard’s Muay Thai is.”
The main card opened with Philadelphia’s PJ Sweda (2-1) squeaking out a split-decision win over Boston’s Andres Jeudi (3-1) in a middleweight bout, and Providence, Rhode Island, product Yeison Berdugo (2-2) putting enough flurries together to notch a unanimous decision verdict over New Jersey’s Anthony Craparo (0-1).