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Kickboxing

The 22nd of August saw Powerplay Promotions, with organisers Joe and Demi Nader again at the helm, stage another impressive showcase at the Melbourne Pavilion. The crowd may have gathered for the main event, but there were plenty of displays of formidable strength and skill and even sentimental victories in the undercard fights, which kept the crowd enraptured and pulled the feverish punters to their feet.

The atmosphere in the pavilion was electric, and fans and kickboxing alumni alike (legends like Sam “Slam ‘em” Greco and Stan “The Man” Longinidis), greeted each other like old friends. The evening delivered a wonderful spectacle of professionalism, athleticism and superhuman tenacity, which was exhibited equally among all the competitors.

The undercard fights began on an inauspicious note, with a strong looking Gene Elbourne going down to Elliott Glenister via TKO, after Dr Adrian Jury treated him for numbness of the hands; evidently due to his hand straps being bound too tightly. I overheard a remark from the audience that a fighter should never reveal that they’re injured- and I recalled these words, as I witnessed the remaining competitors of the evening stand stoic in the face of a flurry of blows.

Yahya Hosseini seemed to have the upper-hand, with more connecting highkicks and elbows striking their mark. After three rounds in this Full Thai battle, with Josh Stoffles sustaining bloody injuries to his side ribs due to the sheer amount of kicks leveled at him, Hossein was declared the winner on unanimous points.

Nick Ambrus and Jacob O’Connor began a tightly contested K1 battle, with both men throwing impressive heavy punches. O’Connor delighted the crowd and surprised his opponent with a deftly executed spinning back kick, landing on the right side of his Ambrus’ cheek. This resulted in an eight count for Ambrus. In the second round, O’Connor displayed his strength once again, and a flurry of punches resulted in his victory via TKO one minute into the second round.

Timmy Tse and Fateh Kaya ostensibly seemed the most evenly matched of the evening; with both featherweights light on their feet. They both displayed a good artillery of kicks, punches and elbows. In the second round, Kaya frequently had Tse down on the canvas with the strength of his grapples, but Tse retorted with sharp elbows and knees. Tse won on the judge’s split decision.

Tristan Papadopoulos and Carl Snell put on a very physical, albeit occasionally fumbling, Muay Thai display; and the crowd responded vocally. In the first round, Papadopoulos executed a brilliant straight hand punch to Snell’s jaw. In the second round, Snell retorted with some huge kicks. The third round saw Papadopoulos connect repeatedly with jabs, countered by skillful knees from Snell. At the close of the battle, Papadopoulos remained undefeated, with the judges unanimous decision in his favour.

Richard Parkes and Orhan Nuredin threw themselves headfirst into an incredibly competitive Full Thai battle, with both men almost falling through the ropes on more than one occasion due to the sheer physical pressure they were inflicting on one another. Parkes landed a huge straight right cross to Nuredin’s chin, which resulted in the referee calling for a standing eight count. The remainder of the fight was a chaotic, violent display, with heavy blows being exchanged by both men. Parkes was the ultimate victor on majority points.

A strong left kick by Brett McCluskey in the first round resulted in an eight count for Leon Godsmark. His kicks and acrobatic prowess remained imposing throughout the contest. In the second round, McCluskey held Godsmark against the ropes, and numerous sharp blows with his knees resulted in another eight count against Godsmark. McCluskey remained the dominant fighter, and multiple kicks and elbows resulted in a TKO victory at 1.35min in the second round.

45-year-old crowd favourite Robert Minniti achieved the sentimental victory of the night, in an impressive comeback against young gun Chakkaphat Foithong. This battle exhibited an impressive battery of kicks and elbows delivered by both competitors, but it seemed that Foithong possessed the initial edge in fitness and stamina. A shin kick by Foithong saw Minniti hit the canvas, and Minniti seemed to slightly lower his hands, perhaps due to the pressure of the significance of the fight. However, by the third round, Minniti seemed to dig deep into an undepleted reservoir, and he closed the gap; dominating with strong steady punches in the subsequent two rounds. MC John Demicoli called Minniti’s victory ‘a Cinderella story’, and that he was a ‘warrior with the heart of a champion’.

Hussein Al Mansouri and Franz Sanchez fought an entertaining and fast paced duel. Although both fighters exhibited impressive athleticism, their blows didn’t seem to be doing any damage to their opponent, and the battle seemed more like a sparring session, with both men mirroring each other’s styles. Mansouri was declared victor by unanimous decision.

The semi-main event fight saw Ramesh “Headhunter” Habib dominate Joey “Filipino Kid” Baylon in Full Thai combat, mainly through the sheer height discrepancy- more than 16cm- and his resulting damaging kicks. Baylon couldn’t get into Habib’s orbit without falling mercy to Habib’s high kicks to the body. Baylon went down in a  TKO, 1.59 seconds into the third round.

The much anticipated main event fight was a thoroughly entertaining display of courage and tenacity from both corners of the ring. Southpaw Maseh “Massive Attack” Nuristani asserted his dominance early over his Greek competitor, Alexandros “Mysterious” Milos, with some incredibly powerful straight left punches. You could hear glove connecting on skin with every blow. Multiple under the belt hits by Milos saw Nuristani require several time outs. This appeared to tire the once dominant Nuristani, who was being held up against the ropes for the subsequent three rounds. Round four saw several strong high kicks delivered by Milos, and a powerful punch to Nuristani’s face, which looked threatening, but still failed to fell him. Nuristani put on a gallant fight, but he seemed to be injured, and Milos ultimately won the bout by majority decision. The fighters truly showed their massive hearts and warrior spirit after the fight, when Nuristani gave his heartfelt commiserations to his opponent, whose father had passed away just before he boarded the plane from Greece. Stan “The Man” Longinidis continued this emotional tribute to the courage of the young fighter, which really attested to the powerful sense of community in the kickboxing fraternity.