Posted on: November 2nd, 2012 by Philip

After 2 successful Summer roadtrips to England and France THAIFIGHT returned to home shores on Tuesday(23rd October) with the first round of the 2012 tournament.

As per last year the 2012 event is divided into 2 weight categories, 67 and 70kg. 8 boys had been selected to represent their countries in each section. Singmanee Kaewsamrit and Buakhaow Benchamek are the respective Thai representatives.

The 23rd October is a special holiday in Thailand. The day commemorates the reign of King Rama 5 and is known as Chulalongkhorn day. King Rama 5 is credited with doing much to modernise many of Thailand’s social institutions during the late 19th Century.It was thus fitting that the THAIFIGHT organisers had chosen this day to kick off this year’s tournament as Muay Thai is such a worthy symbol of Thai culture.
The event was staged at the Bangkok-Thonburi University’s sports arena. The THAIFIGHT organisers did their usual excellent job of turning an impressive arena into a truely spectacular one, with great backdrops, lights and fireworks.The crowd was filled out with local students as THAIFIGHT continues to look to build a new home audience/market for Muay Thai.

Those present were especially fortunate for they were able to watch 2 preliminary bouts which were not part of the main show which went out live on TVC3. These bouts featured, respectively Pettanong, now fighting out of Buakhaow’s Benchamek gym and Ikyusang, the very exciting losing semi-finalist from this year’s Isuzu Cup tournament.Both boys put on superb performances to beat their respective Italian and French opponents, a reminder of the depth of talent which exists in Thailand.

And so to the main, televised event.In the 70kg tournament Buakhaow remains the man to beat. Today he was matched with Maurro Serra, 2 time Italian and former European. Buakhaow started the fight patiently, content to have a look at Serra who at least opened up with a few combinations of his own, alas these only served to underline how good Buakhaow’s defence is-nothing got through. Toward the end of the round Buakhaow opened up with a series of powershots delivered in combination which inhibited Serra and again showed Buakhaow’s skill, speed and condition. There really is a lot to admire with Buakhaow, watch his feet, watch the way he works angles to make his opponent miss and then force home his advantage. Buakhaow started Rd 2 in the same fashion and quicklycaught Serra with an elbow which opened up a cut,the doctor was called in, all at ringside also noted an egg sized swelling had also opened up on Serra’s forehead, saving the boxer any further punishment, the doctor waved the fight off, the local crowd went wild, another spectacular win for the local hero.

Having watched the other 3 Quarter Finals it is difficult to see where a really serious challenge to Buakhaow may come from. Possibly Vitaly Hurkou, the tall Belarussian was most impressive, controlling the clinch and using his considerable reach to stay out of trouble in his fight against Fares Bechar. That said I can’t really see his attacks troubling Buakhaow who has so much experience fighting foreigners of every shape, I am also fearful that his thin legs would be a real target for a really powerfull Thai kicker.

These two will be joined in the semi-finals by Tomoyuki from Japan who put in a solid, all round performance to sweep aside the challenge of the disappointing Korean Chok Woo Yeong who just didn’t put any weight into his shots, particulrly surprising, and disappointing as he had very strong looking legs. The fourth place will be taken by the Finnish veteran Antero Hynynen who put in a compete performance against the wild and disappointing Shannon King of Australia. Hynynen remained cool and saw enough of King’s telegraphed shots to avoid them, he picked King off with a full repartee of Muay Thai. Hynynen cntinues the Summer’s trend for sportsmen with facial hair though his growth rather reminded Amos Brearley than Bradley Wiggins. A good performance from him but hard to imagine him troubling a real class opponent.

The Thai representative in the 67kg category, Singmanee Kaewsamrit raised eyebrows with less than impressive performances against the unorthodox French Algerian Benoui in the THAIFIGHT Europe shows, he actually lost one decision there, some whispering had started, was he struggling with the fight style of the Western boxers? In this Quarter Final Singmanee was matched with Valdrim fighting out of Kosovo via Belgium.Here he quickly found his range and right through the fight launched a series of slamming left round kicks(from his southpaw stance) into the right side of Valdrim. It was amazing to see Valdrim take so many shots-full marks for bravery BUT for a fighter fighting at this level why didn’t he change his strategy to avoid these attacks rather than keep taking them? I really did fear he was in serious danger. Singmanee did a good job to silence the critics, his opponent in the next round will really have to think about neutralising that left round kick.

Many international viewers were excited to see Andre Kulebin’s name on the draw for this year’s THAIGIGHT 67Kg group. The Belarussian is massively experienced and has a great reputation built on fighting the best throughout the world. Kulebin’s first fight in THAIFIGHT was an awkward one, he was matched with the South African/Congolese /French Crice Boussoukou, only 20 and with only about 20 fights behind him Crice is @ 9 feet tall and an outstanding prospect and in this fight gave Kulebin much to think about, but the Belarussian kept to his task, he has good feet, good balance and the ability to launch all Thai attacks, he has good defence so resisted Crice’s unpredictable attacks,Kulebin, a name to watch out for in the next round, Boussoukou a name to watch out for in future years.

Adaylton Perera from Brazil continues to improve and did enough to get the nod against Benoui. He will be joined in the semi-finals by Mehdi Zatout, the highly experienced former French and European champion. He looked very sharp and confident in his bout against Samart Payakarun’s fighter Shan Cangelosi from Italy, unfortunately we didn’t see much of Zatout as in an early attack he opened up a serious cut on Cangelosi’s eyebrow. The ringside doctor judged it dangerous so waived the fight off, Still, the little of what we saw Mehdi looked good and will be another to watch in the next round.

THAIFIGHT Semi-Finals take place in Nakhon Ratchasima on the 25th November.

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