Archive for June, 2012

Singha Battle for the Belts

Posted on: June 20th, 2012 by Philip No Comments

Alas come the end of the Singha Battle for the Belts I had been overtaken by a critical, downbeat mood and I really didn’t want to be like that…..
I support any move to promote Muay Thai, particularly in Thailand where it really needs to connect with a wider audience and this show should have been a reflection of that. It was staged as a joint promotion between the WBC and BEC TERO, one of Thailand’s leading entertainment companies, the show was supported by the International sports agency IMG and received generous sponsorship from Singha;big organisations, big ideas, the right way to go forward, so what went wrong?
The event was staged at the magnificent Impact arena,Muang Thong Thani which usually hosts big concerts and exhibitions, this represented a conscious decision to take the sport away from its usual less celubrious home at the Bangkok stadia which many Thais would never dream of entering. Unfortunately, few, very few entered this stadium. The size and splendour of the arena only went to underline how few people, particularly Thai people had made the effort to attend. The bill featured 4 top Thai boxers, each of whom would have sold out, a similar event had it been staged in Europe.
My other concern centred on the standard of Muay Thai presented.To be a WBC International rules champion a boxer must be brilliant-at the height of his physical abilities, showing a supreme command of his art so that he can adjust his tactics to take on all comers, he combines rare skill with condition and strength, experience, instinct and nous. Unfortunately those qualities were sadly lacking in the majority, certainly of the International fighters either defending or challenging for the WBC Muay Thai titles at Impact Arena.
The first 3 fights matched Jomtong Chuwattana, Sakeddao PetchPayathai and Kem Sitsongpeenong with opponents from France, Turkey and Spain/Equatorial Guinea. The fights all had similar feels to them.
Those of you who have read my other reports of fight nights may feel that I am repeating myself here, to an extent I am, because the shortcomings shown here are shared by many, many foreign(ie. Western) fighters. It gives me no satisfaction to point out the limitations, again…..
In each of the first 3 fights, the farang(foreign) opponent employed the same tactic-going for power hand combinations which they presumed would result in knock outs, but they all hopped around so much that they rarely put weight into their shots, they didn’t show any guile to create openings and hence land clean shots, the very occasional kicks they did throw were as if after thoughts, totally lacking in power, thrown from off balance as they were retreating. So, what did the Thais do, they knew they didn’t need to worry about the kicks, they knew they should keep their hands high to block punches and this they all did. They all blocked the punches and then responded with devastating, hard kicks as the Westerner jumped back, then the Westerner was on the back foot, the Thai found it easy to follow up going into the clinch.
In the first fight Yetkhin Ozil a Turk who fights out of Holland was up against Jomthong Chuwattana. The fight followed the pattern I have described, Jomthong is an excellent International rules as well as Muay Thai fighter, he kept a high guard and used an accurate jab throughout, nothing Ozil did phased the Thai and when he did take the fight into the clinch Ozil appeared clueless about that aspect of Muay Thai-that being the case how come he was fighting for a World Title? The result a landslide points victory for Jomthong.
Sofiane Dedega from France employed a similar strategy against Saketdao,the Thai boxed within himself, staying out of trouble and upped his workrate in the 3rd. He clipped the Frenchman with an elbow, Sofiane looked shocked, looking desperately to the referee and his corner as if to ask what was happening, perhaps out of sympathy the referee waved the fight off, the small cut which had been opened up really didn’t look too threatening from where I was sitting.
Next up was Kem Sitsongpeenong, current Thaifight 67kg champion against Alessandro Osa from Spain/Guinea-more of the same, only flurries of hand combinations off the back foot from Osa, maybe he just forgot to kick. In the 2nd Rd in the midst of a clinch Kem caught Osa with an upper elbow, the Spaniard staggered back and then as if in a delayed reaction fell over. Rd 2 k.o win for Kem;another unsatisfactory challenge.
I deliberately do not include Fabio Pinca in with the previous 3 fighters. He has enjoyed considerable success against many top Thais, and was the 2010 Thaifight champion. He uses his brain when he fights and shows skills in all Muay Thai departments. On this day he was matched against Big Ben, a former Rachdamneon and the current WBC champion, I had heard though that Big Ben hadn’t been that active in recent months, would this be the chance for the foreigners to chalk up a victory over the Thais?
Pinca’s moves were much more controlled, focussed and hence effective than the other Europeans. He has good defence and attacks with a variety of fast shots. The crowd were delighted in rds 1 and 2 to see Big Ben employ spectacular defences and counters adopted from Muay Boran to keep himself out of trouble,he was a real showman and provided the crowd with the entertainment they needed. As I said though, Pinca has an excellent defence so it was all equal going into the 3rd Rd. In rd 3 though Pinca landed a real hard kick on Big Ben’s upper thigh-‘jort yang’ the Thais call it(like a car with a burst tyre-it can’t move!)Ben now really had to protect that leg. Most of us thought that in the remaining 2 rounds Pinca would press home his advantage but again Big Ben showed just how great the Thai boxers are. He knew he had to protect his leg so dictated the fight go to the clinch which he controlled, continually taking Pinca down. It was a really impressive comeback and I must say I was surprised when the judges gave the fight to Pinca on a split decision.
And so to the big men, and this is where the foreigners’ lack of technical ability was really exposed.Joe Schilling from the USA threw every shot as if it was a k.o, he threw huge elbows at every opportunity, his opponent the Armenian/Dutch Karept Karapetyan manged to avoid most of them because they were so telegraphed, but the Dutchman did practically nothing in return, the few times he did attack, Schilling looked like he didn’t like it, but Karapetyan never followed up and hence really didnt deseve to win. pts win to Scilling.
Next up at Super Cruiserweight was Steve Mckinnon from Australia against Frank Munoz from Spain. It would be useful if the WBC were to lose the tape of this fight because it does little credit to anyone, particularly their reputation. After @15 seconds McKinnon caught Munoz with a right hand on the temple, it didn’t look that hard, Munoz stumbled back through the ropes and ddin’t return, after several seconds the Spaniard got to his feet, climbed back through the ropes and then protested that he was ready to continue, alas that is not in the rules. A bit of a wrangle seemed to ensue, there was a bit of jostling and then bizarrely Munoz bowed down at McKinnon’s feet. One punch win for McKinnon, more questions than answers about Munoz, but I couldn’t be bothered to ask the questions….
And now the (very) big guys. The WBC Heavyweight World Title match between holder Christian Bosch of Argentina and the Japanese Brazilian Fabiano Cyclone. Bosch had his very long hair in a pony tail so he reminded me of Neil from the Young Ones, unfortunately he fought like Neil too. In contrast Cyclone looked in great condition and from the off employed a controlled Thai style putting accurate shots on Christian’s body. Bosch answered with a few flurries of punches but they were thrown off the back foot and had nothing behind them, every time, and there weren’t many, he threw these combinations Bosch seemed to look tired, a contrast to Cyclone who looked dangerous throughout, he showed this to devastating effect in rd 2 when from a messy clinch he sprang up and caught the Argentinian with a jumping knee to the chin. A spectacular k.o win but had Christian really been the WBC Heavyweight champion of the world??!
So, a feeling of disappointment, great crowds had failed to come and a feeling of concern that now after a generation of exposure to real Muay Thai, seemingly only a few people outside Thailand really understand how to use real Muay Thai skills in a fight.And, again, how few Thai people appreciate just how good their fighters are when they use Muay Thai.

Philip as Actor

Posted on: June 17th, 2012 by Philip No Comments

Pleased to report I have had a busy few weeks. We have just ‘wrapped’ shooting of ‘Cooktales’ a cookery competition/family/generation drama starring Michelle Yeoh, Henry Lao and Chin Han and directed by Gina Kim. I played the part of the director. We hope the film will be released worldwide toward the end of this year.
I have also just shot a commercial for Minute Maid Orange Juice with local star Na Deat, this should go on air in Thailand from July 2012.