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Pornsanae Sitmonchai Retires

Muay Thai Legend Pornsanae Sitmonchai Retires

Life After Fighting:

When Pornsanae Sitmonchai stepped into the ring in Bangkok’s Omnoi Stadium last Valentine’s Day, not even the owner of his gym knew he intended it to be his last fight. The Sitmonchai team prepped him backstage, wrapped his hands and rubbed him with oil. Pornsanae, normally exuberant and outgoing, pulled into himself and concentrated on the battle ahead.

It was a high-stakes fight; he was defending his Omnoi title. He freely admits he’s afraid of losing every time he steps into the ring, “but this fight was different,” he said. “It was even worse because I knew it was my last.” It was a lot of pressure, and he was bearing it mostly alone.

He’d been on the fence for weeks about retiring, hadn’t even fully decided to retire until a few days before the Omnoi match. About a week before the fight, he approached his close friend and fellow fighter Jun (Thepnimit Sitmonchai), and told him about his plan to retire. He asked Jun not to tell P’ Ae, the gym’s owner. Jun agreed to keep quiet. He and Pornsanae had grown up together, training and living alongside one another at Sitmonchai for the past nearly 20 years. For the few days leading up to the fight, Jun and a handful of Pornsanae’s other closest friends at Sitmonchai were the only ones who knew this fight would be his last.

None of Pornsanae’s friends was surprised to hear he wanted to retire. At age 34, Pornsanae has amassed around 300 fights and a reputation for a wildly entertaining, aggressive, unrelenting fighting style. With that style, however, comes the danger of injury, especially the cumulative effects of knockouts and concussions.

Recently married and now with a young family, Pornsanae had been questioning his decision to keep fighting since his daughter was born nearly two years ago. In the ring, his aggressive tactics suggested fearlessness. Outside the ring, however, he worried about the effects such a career might have on his health. “When I was younger,” he said, “I was never afraid of anything. But now that I have a family, I’m afraid I’ll die soon if I keep fighting.” His interactions with other pro fighters, mostly Western-style boxers, gave him pause. “You can tell when you talk to these boxers that most of them don’t function at a hundred percent anymore. It scares me that someday I might become like that.”

The first sign of trouble happened during a plane flight in early 2013. Pornsanae had just lost a fight by decision to Michael “Tomahawk” Thompson in Australia. It was a full-rules, caged Muay Thai show in which the fighters wore MMA gloves, far smaller than the gloves Pornsanae had been using in his 20-year career.

On the plane home from Australia, Pornsanae’s head started aching. This was unusual for him, and he worried about what it signified. Thompson hadn’t knocked him out, but Pornsanae had been given two standing eight-counts during the three rounds. Once back in Bangkok, he hurried to the hospital.

He told the doctors he’d been fighting since he was 11 years old—more than 20 years of shots to the head. The doctors understood his career as a Muay Thai fighter meant he had to continue fighting to support his family. They told him to keep coming back for regular checkups, gave him pills they said would increase blood flow to his brain.

Pornsanae’s fans and fight critics were taking notice. Comments and blog posts started showing up, calling for him to retire, alleging that Sitmonchai Gym was forcing him to fight. In Thailand, however, it’s not always a straightforward transition from earning a living as a fighter to earning one as a trainer, or any other job. Hundreds of high-level Muay Thai boxers retire every year, often with no certain method to support themselves. Some fighters become trainers; many do not. Motorcycle taxi stands and fruit stalls are populated with former fighters trying to get by.

Like many other fighters approaching the end of their career, Pornsanae felt the pressure. “You get to a point where you can’t fight, so you have to find some new experiences, do something else. I can’t be a boxer forever, and I have to find other ways to make money. Most of all, I have to think about my family.”

“People were analyzing his knockouts and fighting style, talking about his life and what he should do, without actually talking to him to see what his wants and needs were,” said Abigail McCullough, foreign liaison of Sitmonchai and a resident of the gym for the past five years. “They have no idea what his life is like. I was getting pissed off at these people who were writing about Pornsanae’s life from their positions of privilege, espousing to know what’s best for him. It’s creepy moral arrogance. It’s all well and good to say he should be retiring, but are you going to pay for his kid’s food? If you’ve been here [in Thailand] any length of time, you know these fighters fight for survival. It’s how they provide for themselves and their families. Other people’s values, all the critics saying he needs to retire from fighting, it doesn’t apply in his world. Everyone knows he’s getting old and that he needs to stop fighting. But this is the current state of Muay Thai. It’s changing all the time, and now luckily these retired fighters are finally getting better options for their post-fight careers. But the transition is not always easy.”

When he stepped into the Omnoi ring for the last fight of his career, Pornsanae wasn’t thinking about what he’d do after fighting. He told himself this was it, his last fight, so put in one hundred percent. He wanted to leave a legacy, what he called “a beautiful history.”

From the red corner, Pornsanae squared off against his opponent, Petch GL Suit. The fight lasted only two rounds. Pornsanae knocked Petch down with an elbow in the second round. Petch jumped back to his feet quickly but shakily, received a count from the ref. Looking to end it before Petch could fully recover, Pornsanae pushed forward, fired a sharp low kick, stepped in and leveled Petch with his punches.

Petch collapsed onto his back. The ref waved it off, fight over. Pornsanae raised his hands and danced around the ring, leaped onto the neutral corner and faced the cheering gamblers in the stands, mouth agape in the half-crazed ecstasy of knowing he did it, he retired as a champion, an old fighter at 34 and now permanently a legend in Muay Thai.

Back in the dressing room after the fight, Pornsanae broke the news to gym owner P’ Ae that he was officially retiring from fighting. P’ Ae and Pornsanae had grown up sharing a room; they were like brothers. Keeping the secret from him had been hard. Pornsanae apologized for not telling P’ Ae sooner, saying it would have been too stressful before such an important fight. P’ Ae was understanding, and completely supportive of his decision to retire.

Pornsanae was relieved to let his secret out to everyone at the gym. Making the decision to retire and then keeping it from his fight family had been an emotional burden. “He was afraid even to tell me,” said Abigail, Jun’s partner and close friend of Pornsanae. “But the truth is, we all wanted him to retire. We wanted him to take care of himself, didn’t want his health to suffer. He himself had said a few times that he was getting too old.”

According to Abigail, one of the biggest hurdles to Pornsanae’s retirement was money. “He didn’t have anything that would pay as well as his fighting career so we all knew he was inclined to keep fighting. He has a new family so of course he wants to make as much money as he can while he still can.”

What prompted Pornsanae to hang up his gloves once and for all was a call from Evolve MMA in Singapore, a highly regarded gym famous for its coaching staff of retired champions. The day after Pornsanae’s Omnoi fight, Evolve MMA announced he would soon be joining their team as a trainer.

In his 23-year career, Pornsanae has seen the sport of Muay Thai go from being nearly exclusively Thai to internationally famous. This foreign interest in Muay Thai is providing him a smooth path from famous fighter to highly sought trainer. Pornsanae, who was born into a poor family in rural Kanchanaburi Province, will be making a base salary of approximately 100,000 baht a month (about $3,100), not counting additional private lessons. He’ll potentially make more in a month than many of his countrymen make in a year. Not bad for a high school dropout who grew up fighting for a living.

Pornsanae is scheduled to depart Thailand in March 2015. He plans to work the next few years in Singapore, taking a break every four months to visit his family in Thailand. Working as a fighter and now a trainer abroad present challenges to his family, but both the financial and emotional stability of his family are paramount to him. “When I was growing up,” he said, “my parents were never very warm and we were not very close. Now that I have my own family, I want to give them the warmth I didn’t have growing up. Unfortunately while I was fighting, I had to be very focused and disciplined, so I didn’t have much time for my family. Now I’m going away to Singapore, which is necessary because I have to provide for my family, but I plan to come home as often as I can, and have them come visit me too.”

Knowing the kind of person Pornsanae is, some of his gym friends have started making bets as to how long he’ll last at his new job. “Some of us think he won’t last more than a few months away,” Abigail said. “He’s such a homebody! He hates being away from home.”

The high salary and good working environment are appealing to Pornsanae, but what he’s most looking forward to about Singapore, he says, is being so close to Universal Studios. “I can’t wait to bring my family there. I’ve been to a lot of countries, but Singapore is my favorite because Universal Studios is right there and I can go all the time now.

“I won’t stay in Singapore forever, though,” he said. “I’m doing this to earn money for my family, and we will ultimately stay in Thailand. Kanchanaburi is my home; Sitmonchai is my home. I will always come back here.”

Source: www.fightland.vice.com

The World’s top Muay Thai Camps

Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, but it has become a global phenomenon with camps operating all over the world. A few Western fighters have started to make a name for themselves on the international scene. Even only a decade ago, it was almost unheard of for a foreign fighter to possess the skills good enough to win a title at Lumpinee Stadium or Rajdamnern Stadium. Thanks to trailblazing pioneers such as Rob Kaman and Ramon Dekkers in the 1980s, Muay Thai is now a global sport. While the Thais still dominate the game at the highest levels of Muay Thai in the world, the sport’s popularity has ignited across the globe.

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Thailand remains the heartland of the sport and no country can come close in terms of the quantity of elite level competitors which The Kingdom continually churns out. An estimated 5,000 professional Muay Thai camps are spread all over Thailand and are situated in virtually every town. Children start at a very young age such as 5-6 years old and Muay Thai is even taught in schools. In any given year, there are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 elite professional Muay Thai fighters competing around the country. Only the very best 500 fighters or so in Thailand make it to the big stadiums like Lumpinee or Rajdamnern in Bangkok. And still, most fighters end up failing in the big leagues. The numbers are even worse for foreigners in terms of odds for success.  For this reason, it is no surprise that most of the top camps are in Thailand, but there are some notable exceptions due to widespread proliferation of Muay Thai knowledge.

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Here is a list of the world’s top Muay Thai destinations for authentic Muay Thai.

Evolve MMA

The Thai media in Thailand have crowned Evolve MMA’s Muay Thai instructor team as the greatest dream team of legends in history.  Evolve MMA in Singapore has the most decorated team of Muay Thai trainers found anywhere in the world, including camps in Thailand. It currently includes big-name legends of the sport like Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, Attachai Fairtex, Orono Wor Petchpun, and Nonthachai Sit O as well as an vast array of multiple-time Rajadamnern and Lumpinee champions including Muangfalek Kiatvichian, Chalee Sor Chaitamin, Saenghiran Lookbanyai and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichok, Singmanee Kaewsamrit, Chaowalith JockeyGym, and many others. It also houses many champion trainers from Sityodtong Camp.

Evolve MMA offers Muay Thai classes in Singapore for the complete beginner to the advanced Lumpinee-level professional fighter. If you are looking to learn Muay Thai in Singapore, Evolve MMA is arguably one of the best Muay Thai gyms in the world. If you are looking to compete and win in Lumpinee Stadium, Evolve MMA is worth a visit to sharpen your skills against some of the best in history.

Petchyindee

The Petchyindee gym has been one of the best in Thailand for several decades and a brand new location is currently under construction featuring state-of-the-art facilities. It will include accommodation for tourists. Historically, Petchyindee has not open to the general public, but it will be next year. It is already home to the Petchyindee stable of fighters which includes two of the best fighters of the decade in Sam-A Kaiyanghadao and Nong-O Kaiyanghadao while training is overseen by multiple time Lumpinee and Rajadmanern champion Sagat Petyindee.

Petchyindee also throws co-promotions at Lumpinee Stadium on a regular basis with their star fighters. Their fighters are well-known for their technical mastery of Muay Thai and are well-known as cardio machines. When it opens its door to foreign tourists, it is well worth a visit to see how one of the best camps in Thailand trains its legendary champions.

Sitsongpeenong

Sitsongpeenong is a camp that caters to Westerners with air conditioned, indoor facilities. However, do not be fooled by the luxurious settings. It has a world-class fight team which currently includes multiple-time tournament and title winner Kem Sitsongpeenong, current Thailand champion Sittichai Sitsongpeenong and former Lumpinee champion Thongchai Sitsongpeenong. It is a serious camp with serious Muay Thai. Fighters at Sitsongpeenong are known as very well-rounded with strong kicks and excellent punching power, a rarity in the world of Muay Thai. If you want to learn authentic Muay Thai, Sitsongpeenong is definitely one of the best.

There are facilities in both Bangkok and Phuket, catering to students of all levels and Sitsongpeenong regularly sends fighters to compete at all the main stadiums in Thailand with many of them highly ranked in their respective weight classes.

Singpatong

Despite being located on the outskirts of Phuket’s most notorious red light district, Singpatong has an excellent reputation and has helped launch the careers of top Thai and Western fighters with Pentai Sitnumnoi, Peneak Sitnumnoi and Damien Alamos all winning Lumpinee titles in recent years. Peneak was the 2011 ‘Fighter of the Year’ and the head coach, Numnoi Singpatong, has a crop of up and coming Thai youngsters coming through as well as being extremely open to Western fighters who want to come and train. The open atmosphere of this camp makes it a place to visit for the beginner and the serious fighter. Singpatong training is classic Thai-style with lots of roadwork, heavy bags, pads, and clinch work. Cardio is strongly emphasized at Singpatong.  You can learn excellent basics as well as advanced technique at Singpatong.

Sitmonchai

Located on the outskirts of Kanchanaburi, this Muay Thai camp is in a remote location, but is known for its laid-back atmosphere. However it is still home to some feared and respected fighters like Pornsaneh Sitmonchai, who has a reputation as being the most exciting Muay Thai contenders in Thailand today, and teenage prodigy Yodkhunpol Sitmonchai who recently secured a contract with international kickboxing organization Glory. Due to its remote location, the training is very spartan and hard. Roadwork is heavily emphasized with endless rounds of pad work and conditioning. The trainers at Sitmonchai have decades of experience at Lumpinee and Rajdamnern stadiums.  Do not expect special treatment as a visitor. The training is as tough as they come. If you want an immersive Muay Thai experience, Sitmonchai is one of the places to go.

Jitti Gym

Jitti Gym in Bangkok is owned by the well respected Jitti Tanongsak and while it isn’t known for producing Thai fighters it has helped launch the careers of some of the top Westerners in the sport including WBC and WMC champion Liam Harrison. Known for its family atmosphere, Jitti Gym is also home to Andy Thrasher who became the first ever non Thai to win a Toyota Marathon in 2011 and is welcoming to complete beginners as well as seasoned pros with basic accommodation available.

Tiger Muay Thai

Tiger Muay Thai is best known as a tourist destination for those who want a combination of training and fun on the beautiful island of Phuket.  The Muay Thai classes cater to students of all levels and the trainers include former Lumpinee champion Rattanachai Jadngooluem and former Rajadamnern champion Lamsongkram Chuwattana. It also has a very serious MMA program with elite competitors and instructors such as Roger Huerta and Brian Ebersole.

13 Coins

Attached to a large hotel in Bangkok, 13 Coins is run by the eccentric Mr Coke and is home to several top fighters with former ‘Fighter of the Year’ winners Saenchai PKSaenchaigym and Saengmanee Sor Tienpo both training here as well as Pakorn Sakyotin and western boxers like Kwanoichit 13coinsexpress and Pungluang Sor Singyu.

Lanna

Lanna Boxing Camp, better known in Thailand as “Kiat Busaba”, is a professional boxing camp in Thailand’s northern capital city of Chiang Mai. Owned and managed as a family concern,we have worked hard over several years together with our young Thai boxers to achieve success at the top level of competition as well as being considered one of the best Northern Muay Thai Training centres. In the pleasant surroundings of our camp, as we train everyday, we offer the opportunity for people to train professionally and gain insight and understanding of the ancient art of Muay Thai.

… and of course

Chao Phraya Muay Thai 😉

Chao Pyraya (Lincoln) in Lincoln is run by the well respected Kru Leigh Edlin and while it isn’t very known as yet for producing professional fighters, it has a fantastic atmosphere and superb training and facilities. It is Chao Phraya Muay Thai Academy’s aim to introduce and promote the art of Muay Thai, Thai Culture & History within our class structure and syllabus. In addition, the academy aims to promote fitness, confidence and well being through our exercise and training prescription, welcoming to complete beginners as well as seasoned professionals.

Sourced from: www.sg.sports.yahoo.com

Saenchai vs Kongsak – 08.08.13

Saenchai vs Kongsak

Rajadamnern Stadium 8th August 2013

Many thanks to ChampboxingMagazine for their quality HD footage.

Kongsak on the other hand is one of the hardest kicking Nak Muay around, should be an interesting match up.

His skill, and technique are really just on another level.  Kongsak is an elite nak muay and looked as if he were on skates… Sanchai’s ability to sweep, misdirect and off balance his opponent is incredible.

A fight well worth watching!!

Parnpetch & Saenchai

Our very own training co-ordinator Ajarn Parnpetch Sithpaphom corning for one of the very best modern day Muay Thai Legend – Saenchai PK Saenchaimuaythaigym

Keep an eye out for him looking after Saenchai between Rounds…

Saenchai (born July 30, 1980), formerly known as Saenchai Sor. Kingstar (Thai: แสนชัย ส.คิงสตาร์) He won the Lumpinee Championship title in four different weight divisions, along with the WMC and WBC World titles, while mostly fighting above his natural weight; therefore he is considered one of the best pound for pound Muay Thai fighters in the world. Saenchai often gives up 5 lbs. + in weight to find worthy opponents in Thailand. Against foreigners the gulf in skill is so great he will go up as high as 147 pounds, which is 15+ pounds above his best weight. He is known for having excellent ring vision and speed.

Melton Woman Thai boxer lands world title

Melton Thai boxer Iman lands world title

IMAN Barlow announced her arrival among the Thai boxing elite on Saturday by controlling the biggest fight of her life.

The 19-year-old comfortably defeated multiple world champion Alexis Rufus at the O2 Arena to bring the Enfusion 54kg world title back to Melton.

Roared on by thousands of fans with a world title up for grabs and with her dad and coach Mark in her corner, Saturday night in London was dreamtime for Iman. Suddenly, the 15 years of fights, endless training, and sacrifices all made sense.

Recalling the events two days later, Iman still seemed stunned by the scale of the occasion.

IMAN Barlow

She said: “It was the most amazing night of my life, it was crazy. Everyone was chanting my name and clapping for me, it was like my home crowd.

“There were people on Facebook and Twitter telling me I was an inspiration, and people waited around after the end to have their photo taken with me. It was unbelievable.

“It makes all that training and not going out drinking totally worthwhile.”

In the biggest night of her long Thai boxing career, Iman showed remarkable composure to take control early on and maintain it through all five rounds. Her dominance was reflected in the judges’ scorecards which gave her a unanimous points decision.

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The assured performance also earned Iman the added prestige of the Fighter of the Night award and a handy 250 Euro bonus.

She added: “I knew it was going to be a tough fight because she is such a strong puncher, and in the first round she came at me, but she didn’t rush in as we expected her to which gave me time to find my range.

“In the second round she just came running at me and from then until the fifth round, that’s all she did.

“She only tried kicking about four times in the entire fight. I don’t know how she thought she was going to win just by steaming in and boxing. I didn’t batter her, but I was in control.”

The fight was the penultimate bout of a star-studded show which was streamed to 92 countries across the globe and attracted thousands of UK Thai boxing fans to the London venue’s Indigo Rooms.

The Melton fighter was inundated with good luck messages before the bout and the wave of support continued all the way to the final bell.

But despite a dominant display, Iman refused to believe she had won until it was officially confirmed.

She said: “Every time I came back to my corner my dad said the round was mine. Sometimes he says that just to keep my confidence up, but I knew I was winning because she wasn’t doing enough to win.

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“At the end I knew I had won, but I kept asking my dad to make sure.

“When I was training I pictured myself winning the belt, but when the referee put my hand up, I just started crying with happiness.”

A well-earned week off precedes her next big occasion, her 20th birthday, but it won’t be long before she returns to serious training for her next big fight in Guernsey in June.

And the fights will get even bigger after September when she begins a six-fight contract with Enfusion, the promoters of Saturday’s show.

Source: www.meltontimes.co.uk

Muay Thai legend passes away

Muay Thai legend Apidet passes away at age 72.

Apidet Sithiram, one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time, passed away yesterday of lung cancer. He was 72.

Apidet

His daughter Saivarun Swatpoklang said her father died at Phramongkutklao hospital following a long battle with cancer.

Mrs Saivarun said Apidet, whose real name was Narong Songmanee, was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and had since been hospitalised.

Nightly prayers are being held at Wat Bang Phli Yai in Samut Prakan until Tuesday and the royally sponsored cremation rites are scheduled on Wednesday.

Apidet was born in tambon Bang Nokkwaek in Samut Songkhram. He specialised in kicking and was dubbed the ‘Kicker of Bang Nokkawek’.

He was so dominant in the country’s traditional martial art that it was difficult for him to find an opponent.

He then switched to international boxing and became welterweight champion of both Lumpinee and Rajadamnoen stadiums.

He was a trainer at Fairtex boxing camp before his death.

Source: www.bangkokpost.com

Muay Thai Finds a Home in the UFC

Muay Thai Finds a Home in the UFC

Rarely will there be a mixed martial arts fan who doesn’t love a good knockout. The thunderous clap that’s heard when a head kick lands or the perfect thud of a punch connecting when knuckles meet jaw, the knockout is just about the purest form of a finish as there is in a fight.

Muay Thai & UFC

In MMA, many of the fighters that compete at the highest levels in the UFC have backgrounds in the striking arts.  UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva grew up as a Muay Thai fighter in Brazil and actually just recently opened his own Muay Thai gym in California.

Lion Fights, a Muay Thai-only promotion based out of Las Vegas, is tapping into the carnal nature of fans who love a good striking battle where fighters can use all of the weapons at their disposal and ultimately want a great knockout.

Unlike kickboxing, where certain rules prohibit the use of elbows or certain techniques from within the clinch, Muay Thai brings striking back to it’s most basic elements of knocking out an opponent by whatever means necessary.

“If you love stand-up fighting and you love the elbows and the knees, then you have to love Muay Thai.  At Lion Fights, we feel like we’re at the right time to brand Muay Thai with Lion Fights, and bringing in these major international stars and developing our own stars it’s making a mark,” Lion Fights owner Scott Kent told Bleacher Report.

“Kickboxing is what it is. K-1 had a great run and it’s still popular in Europe, but when you start taking away weapons and you take elbows out, it has an effect on the fighters themselves.  Muay Thai fighters don’t want to fight kickboxing rules because they want to use all their weapons.  Not only in Muay Thai but in MMA.”

Numerous MMA fighters have shown their support of Muay Thai by attending Lion Fights events in the past. Urijah Faber, Gilbert Melendez, Cheick Kongo and a number of other competitors have attended Muay Thai events because not only do they train in the sport when preparing for an MMA fight, but they love the art form that goes along with a great striking battle.

“We are lucky to be at the epicenter of the UFC world here (in Las Vegas), and we’ve been able to tap into that,” Kent said.  “The response from the fighters has been great because they all train Muay Thai and they can appreciate how it’s applied.  We love the support we get from the UFC and mixed martial arts.”

Several top fighters either already train in Muay Thai or have actually fought in Muay Thai bouts in the past, but like so many great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors of the past, will the best strikers of today become MMA’s stars of tomorrow?

Kent says it’s inevitable that the temptation to move from Muay Thai to MMA will always be present, but he hopes to give strikers a home where they can ply their craft and not have to go anywhere else to look for a paycheck.

“Inevitably because of the size of mixed martial arts, the questions are going to come up,” said Kent.   “I’m not aware of a Muay Thai fighter that’s been really successful crossing over into mixed martial arts that hasn’t had a lot of cross training.  Now they have an avenue to get more sponsorships and make more money and we won’t lose those fighters to mixed martial arts.”

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.

Source: www.bleacherreport.com

Artem Levin VS Simon Marcus

Artem Levin VS Simon Marcus

This fight took place on Friday 15th March 2013 in Las Vegas as the main event of Lion Fight 9. Both Simon Marcus & Artem Levin are world Muaythai champions in various divisions and promotions. The Muaythai world has been trying to organise this match up for 2 years and now it has finally happened…

Please leave your comments on the fight below.

Many thanks to boxinggym2009 for the upload