The world of Muay Thai knows that UK Thai boxing leads by example and on Saturday 11th June, Muay Thai Grand Prix 5 (MTGP5) reinforced this with a brilliant night of action at The O2 Indigo in London, headlined by John Wayne Parr vs Pavlos Kaponis.
With 23 fights on the overall fight card, each and every ticket sold for MTGP5 was worth every penny spent by the sellout crowd. In the UK, we are blessed with an abundance of talent in both Thai boxing and K1 rules kickboxing and although the majority of MTGP5 fights were Thai rules, there were nine fights under K1 rules including, Jamie Whelan vs Thibaud Duphil.
Duphill took Whelan the distance in what was a gruelling and entertaining fight that seriously tested the willpower and desire of Whelan who, was fighting at a slightly lighter weight class than he was used to. The extra weight cut for Whelan clearly had an adverse effect on his energy systems but he persevered with great resilience to secure a decision victory over the Frenchman. Jamie Whelan also confirmed that he has recently signed with K-1 to fight in Japan later his year in his post fight interview with Anoop Hothi.
17 year old Thai boxing sensation, Evan Jays won by unanimous decision against Jamie Ahern in what was an England vs Scotland clash between the two. Ahern is nine years older than Jay and posed a very serious challenge for the 17 year old and the fight resulted in one of the best fights of the night. Both were fast and accurate with their striking and ninja like movement and the way that Jays would throw a left hook to the head to then attack the body with a mean right cross was reminiscent of a Badr Hari highlight.
Paul Barber won his fight against Ian Houillebecq with a body snatching left kick that would end the fight in the second round. Regardless of the execution of such a brutal liver kick, Houillebecq would somehow rise to his feet momentarily despite the unbearable pain he was in which, was astonishing to see, and showed how courageous he was.
Carlton Lieu might have had a slow start in first round against Benito Thamas but from the second round onwards it was a completely different story. Lieu had such a cool, calm and collective demeanour about him to dominate the fight which, justified being awarded ‘performance of the night’ at MTGP5. However, if it weren’t for the bell ringing at the end of round four shortly after he had dropped Thamas with a liver hook who, was able to quickly pull himself together, the fight might not have gone the distance.
Bernise Alldis had a dominating win by unanmious decision over Anaelle Angerville. As the rounds progressed, the more dominate Alldis became especially up close in the clinch with good use of knees and elbows which, caused a cut above Angerville’s left eye earlier in the fight. It was nice to see Alldis celebrate her win with her three year old son in the ring afterwards for whom it was his first time watching his Mum fight live.
In the first two title fights that would follow, Daniel McGowan got the better of Renaud Gurgui-Halsdorff with a second round TKO to be crowned MTGP bantamweight champion; and in the second title fight, Kevin Vidal became the new MTGP featherweight champion with a third round referee stoppage of Matt Tieu.
The third title fight of the night would result in a flawless performance by Charlie Peters who, retained the MTGP welterweight title with ‘KO of the night’ in the second round with his stoppage of Nauzet Trujillo. Earlier this year, Trujillo had epically knocked out Reece McAllister with a highlight spinning elbow KO, so, everyone was aware of how dangerous the Spaniard was.
In the first round, Peters avoided a Trujillo spinning elbow attack. The Spaniard would fail with another spinning elbow in the second round and as the round progressed, a right hand by Peters followed by a right elbow would knockdown Trujillo. Being a title fight, the referee allowed Trujillo to continue but it was clear that the damage was done and after a quick onslaught by the defending champion, the referee swiftly stepped in to stop the fight.
John Wayne Parr vs Pavlos Kaponis was a great fight to end the night with between two seasoned veterans that would go the distance. The first two rounds were one each with Kaponis focused on targeting JWP’s lead leg (and for all five rounds) but the turning point in the fight came towards the end of the third round when a left body kick by JWP would result in Kaponis folding over in discomfort and receiving a count from the referee. Although Kaponis was able to regain his composure and continue fighting, he was fortunate that the bell would ring to end the third round for a very welcomed interval allowing extra recovery time.
As the fourth round unfolded, JWP would continue to have success with backing up Kaponis into the corners of the ring and attack him with a barrage of straight punches, mixed with circular punches; and the occasional uppercuts would find their way through the shell. This pressure from JWP would continually make Kaponis shell up defensively and he would struggle to find an answer to such attacks but the exchanges in less confined space would suit Kaponis better.
However, the greater volume of effective strikes throughout the fight by JWP was one of the contributing factors for his victory by unanimous decision which, helps to further reinforce his legacy as one of the all time greats in the history of the sport.
Overall, MTGP5 was a very entertaining and successful event and the future is bright for Muay Thai Grand Prix especially as they are now in partnership with Lion Fight Promotions who, are aiming to host future Thai boxing events outside of the USA, in both the UK and Europe as Lion Fight CEO, Scott Kent explained at the MTGP5 weigh-ins:
Muay Thai Grand Prix 5 – Official Results:
Main Event – Full Thai Rules (FTR) 74KG
John Wayne Parr def. Pavlos Kaponis by unanimous decision (UD)
MTGP World Welterweight Title
Charlie Peters def. Nauzet Trujillo by KO (Round 2)
Peters retains MTGP World Welterweight Title
KO of the night: Charlie Peters
MTGP World Featherweight Title
Kevin Vidal def. Matt Tieu by TKO (ref stoppage Round 3)
Vidal becomes new MTGP World Featherweight Champion
Performance of the night: Kevin Vidal
MTGP World Bantamweight Title
Daniel McGowan def. Renaud Gurgui-Halsdorff by TKO (Round 2)
McGowan becomes new MTGP World Bantamweight Champion
Jamie Whelan def. Thibaud Duphil by UD – K1 rules 58KG
Bernise Alldis def. Anaelle Angerville by UD – FTR 57KG
Carlton Lieu def. Benito Thamas by UD – FTR 64KG
Fight of the night: Lieu vs Thamas
Paul Barber def. Ian Houillebecq by KO (Round 2) – FTR 62KG
Barber qualifies as no.1 contender for Lion Fight world title
Evan Jays def. Jamie Ahern by UD – FTR 50KG
Fabio Barros def. Luke Whelan by UD – K1 rules 71KG
Sevket Cerkez def. Daniel Hardiman by UD – FTR 72KG
Liam Brough def. James Toomey by TKO (Round 3) – FTR 63KG
Kelly Haynes def. Sara Day by UD – K1 rules 52KG
Rory Crawford def. Benitez Perez by TKO (Round 2) – K1 rules 68KG
Marley Zwanenberg def. Robert Vereykyn by UD
Luke Portanier def. Thai Hoang by TKO (round 5) – B-Class 63KG
Prelims fight of the night: Portanier vs Hoang
Liam Wells def. Saj Imran by UD – K1 rules 68KG
Prelims performance of the night: Liam Wells
Leon Jason def. Will Jones by UD – K1 rules 83KG
Eric Lie def. Matt Wray by unanimous decision – K1 rules 80KG
Nathan Johnson def. John Dang by KO (Round 4) – K1 rules 70KG
Colin Chu def. Florin Pinto by KO (Round 1) – C-Class 67KG
Kane Rigglesworth def. Jamie McGuigan by UD – K1 rules 70KG
Kyron Osborne def. Enrique Gomez by KO (Round 3) – C-Class 58KG