Battered bodies, broken bones and bruised egos – Saturday’s Battle In Paradise 7 International Muay Thai Team Championship at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre had it all; and then some.
There were combatants from Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Barbados in the sport known for punching, kicking, kneeing and elbowing, or as it is referred to, the art of eight limbs.
The only mishap of the night came in the very first fight between Canada’s Alex Bonner and the United Kingdom’s Graeme Finlayson.
The two were feeling each other out at the start of the fight, taking care not to concede any early offensive advantage to the other when the Brit receive no more than a glancing kick. However, he was somewhat off-balance at the time and fell heavily on his left hand. That spelt the end of his night as the awkward fall resulted in a broken hand and a technical knockout win for Bonner who had hardly broken sweat.
The battle of the old grammar schools resulted in a victory for Harrison College’s Charles Worrell over Combermere’s Ian Percival Hinds. Hinds had been dominating the fight over the muscular Worrell for most of the first two rounds with the latter breathing quite heavily and showing signs of fatigue.
However, in the third round with both men basically spent, Worrell found some energy reserves and nailed Hinds with a series of knees to a somewhat soft mid-section. The onslaught slowed Hinds to a halt and he could not continue as the referee wisely separated the two and ended the barrage.
One of the best and closest fights of the night was that between Canada’s 40-year-old Ryan Duncan and 21-year-old Jack Simpson of the United Kingdom. Duncan dominated the early exchanges of the fight to such an extent that some in the crowd started to mock him with the call that he was allowing an “old man” to beat him up. The taller Duncan used his thrust kick and elbows to good effect while Simpson mainly retreated and then attempted to attack off defensive positions.
However, Simpson came to life in the third round and although he never really had Duncan in any trouble, was aggressive enough and landed sufficient clear blows to get the victory. The 30-27, 30-28, 30-28 unanimous decision didn’t really tell the true story of the difficulties which Simpson endured at the hands and feet of the “old man”.
Nineteen-year-old Nick Grant of the United Kingdom was an impressive winner over Canada’s Chris Cadiz in the second round of the three-rounder. From the first round Grant consistently targeted Cadiz’s mid-section with some firm knees that finally bore fruit in the second round when two solid kicks to Cadiz’ chest led to a stoppage of the fight with the Canadian in no condition to continue.
Barbados’ promising Andros Welch refused to monopolize the height and reach advantage which he had on the United States’ 19-year-old Cody Mahon. Welch, obviously with a preference for the boxing aspect of the art, simply did not use elbows, knees and feet to a significant degree to compliment his spasmodic boxing spurts. Mahon was the aggressor throughout and the 30-28, 30-38 call from two judges was fair. One judge ruled it 29-29 but he had to have seen the fight from a different building – in the dark.
The first of two professional bouts for the night came via Andrew Thurland of the United Kingdom and Barbados’ Kirk “Thunderfoot” Bovell. There was certainly no thunder in either of Bovell’s feet and it was more of a case of lightning striking him twice. In the first round a kick to the head from the confident Thurland dropped him to the canvas just as the bell to end the round sounded.
The home fans urged him on in the second round to make a fight of it but patriotic screams are no shield against flaying fists and flying kicks. The second round was just seconds underway when Thurland’s powerful kick to Bovell’s left foot put him on the canvas again. The referee’s count could have gone to 100; Bovell was done and dusted for the night.
The other five-round professional contest was between Canada’s Matthew “The Milkman” Kendall and Nick Vaughan of the United States. Kendall dominated the fight throughout the five rounds with Vaughan, seemingly the crowd favourite based on the constant advice from outside the ring, having a few moments of good offence but mostly too fleeting to obscure the obvious. Kendall was the fitter of the two and this played a major part in seeing him to a 50-45, 50-48, 49-47 unanimous decision.
There was a no-show from the United States’ Nicole Richiusa for her bantamweight fight against compatriot Marisol Garcia and the latter had to settle for a demonstration bout with Phil Nurse of the United States, who was responsible for training a number of the fighters on the card.