New Zealand fight fans have survived the famine, and now it is time to feast.
A week after King in the Ring's triumphant return, combat sports fans will be treated to Turf Wars 9, which takes place at the Urban Sports Gym in Birkenhead, Auckland, this Saturday, July 25.
The sold-out show will consist of twelve amateur and three professional bouts. Headlining the card is the anticipated Muay Thai clash between New Zealand's own Kayne Conlan and Thailand's Kru Chain, with the fight taking place at 65kg.
Conlan, who trains out of Auckland's Strikeforce gym, is one of New Zealand's top Muay Thai fighters, but in Kruchain, he will face an ultra-experienced opponent with over 500 fights to his name. Originally from Buriram, Thailand, but now living in Wellington, Kruchain stole the show at Turf Wars 8 with an impressive victory over the talented Jeffrey Kelly.
"He [Kayne] is a real Muay Thai fighter, anything between 63 and 66 is really where he is at his best, and Kruchain has come up a bit of weight, and Kayne has come down to 65, and we have a great match," event promoter Greg Nesbit said when speaking to NZ Fighter.
"We want to see Kayne fighting in New Zealand, just like Sam Hill, they do come with a premium price, and they deserve that, and you pay a bit, but you get these great fights."
Sam Hill is a familiar name to NZ fight fans. Hill, who captured the 68kg King in the Ring crown in 2017, will meet Urban Sport Gym's Thomas Maguren in a 72kg three-round bout, fought under K1 rules. The pair's bout will open the professional portion of the card. Nesbit, who trains Maguren, knows that his young charge has a huge test in front of him, but feels challenges like this will only help Maguren grow as a fighter.
"Sam is a smart, hard, intelligent fighter, and I think Sam has been impacted by weight cuts, and he won't have a weight cut this time, " Nesbit said.
" If my boy can fight and come away with a win, that's a win if he can get in there and go through the rhythm and win or lose come out the other side it's a step my boy needs in his game to take on a challenge like that, and I think that will make him a great fighter no matter what the result is. Not many people want to fight Sam. He is a hard fight to fight; he comes with a lot of credibility and history."
In the co-main event, the inaugural Aotearoa Muay Thai Association Super Light Heavyweight Champion will be crowned when Chris Eades and Mandela Ale do battle.
In a first for Turf Wars, the full card will be filmed and shared online the next day by GladrapChannel. The idea behind this is to not only allow people who were unable to make it to the show an opportunity to catch the action, but also to make the sport more accessible to prospective-fans.
"Having a record of what they are doing an achieving is juts pivotal for the sport, and it desperately needs it in all categories in my view, as that then lays the history for fighters and new fans," Nesbit commented.
"We need the fans and the audience to start to follow these fighters. Imagine how rugby would do if you could only watch the games live."
This weekend's show will not be the last people see of Turf Wars in 2020, as Nesbit is planning one more event before the year is out and hints that something special is in the works.
"I have got an interesting idea that I think the fans will fall over and will be able to get a couple of great fights that people will talk about and want to see and a good return for the fighters. Fighters and fans will both be happy. I will say watch this space."
Turf Wars has continued to impress with each show getting stronger and stronger. However this weekend's event looks set to raise the bar even higher than usual.
Here is the full card for Turf Wars 9
Written by Michael Clifton
Behind the Gloves - Devan Syme
Video: Kayne Conlan vs. Kru Chain
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