Rāhoroi Night Is Alright For Fighting: King of the Ring
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Maybe it’s the unpredictability, maybe it was a childhood of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, or maybe it’s just the fact that I am a product of the YouTube generation, with an attention span so incremental and sporadic that I expect to view an event that is a whole career jammed into one digestible evening. Whatever it may be, I always found myself attracted to tournaments as they always provided unpredictable battles of attrition where there is no way to plan for your opponent.
And so the ASB Stadium would hold the Elite Thai Kickboxing promoted ‘King Of The Ring’, an action packed affair including an 8 man heavyweight tournament combined with contests for national and world titles.
Favourites Antz Nansen and Nato Laauli established themselves early with strong performances in their preliminary bouts. In many people’s eyes, the two finalists were sown up however the semi-final matches would test many of the certainties gained for the initial bouts. Antz Nansen would turn out another strong performance in decisioning Henry Taani with the other semi-final, an excitement fest between Joshua ‘Jaguar’ Heta and Nato Laauli, going right down to the wire. After seeming dominant during the first two rounds, Laauli has the fight brought to him by Heta, who is looking to mix it up. The draw declared by the judges only whets the appetite of the crowd as they thirst for another round much like the heavily contested third. When the dust finally settled, it would be Heta whose hand would be raised in a bout that could of gone either way.
In the first world title bout contested of the evening, Bronwyn Wylie took on Melbourne’s Tegan Papasergi for the WFBK Featherweight title. The aggressive Wylie pushed forward early while Papasergi tried to establish distance with her kicks. The Australian just couldn’t keep her opponent off her as Wylie simply walks through anything Papasergi throws. This unrelenting pressure would prove decisive as Wylie is awarded both a unanimous decision and the WKBF Featherweight belt.
Roger Earp was pushed to the wire by Joe Concha in defending his WKBF Junior Lightweight title. Earp started the bout landing combinations however Concha began to work him out and counter effectively. Every round was up for grabs as the two combatants did everything they could to win each three minute stanza. The split decision awarded to Earp would be testament to the competitiveness of the bout.
Three 3 minute rounds is now the only thing that stood between either Antz Nansen or Joshua Heta, $7,000 in prize money and the King of the Ring title. Eleven minutes between challenger and champion with the final a classic battle of pairing an unstoppable force with an immovable object.
Nansen comes out early exerting pressure and he slips a Heta attempt and lands a four punch combination before the bell. The intensity is thick in the second round with ‘Notorious’ landing heavy punches. Heta is as tough as they come and exchanging willingly but a spinning backfist gets his attention. In one of the most exciting rounds witness in New Zealand kickboxing, Heta and Nansen go toe-to-toe in the final stanza. Nansen’s spinning backfists and right hands seem to be the defining factors, although this is something that can only be assumed by the sound they make as Heta doesn’t believe in taking backward steps. After three gruelling battles, ‘Notorious’ Antz Nansen would be crowned ‘King of the Ring.’
The crew at Elite Thai Kickboxing succeeded in putting on another entertaining show. All bouts exciting and consequential, all fighters game and without any lull in the action. This would lead to one reporter being heavily entertained.
King of the Ring Results
Oneil Wiperi (SMAC) beat Ricky Hita (ETK) by unanimous decision
King of the Ring Tournament Preliminaries
Nato Laauli (Alpha Thai Boxing, Wellington) beat Tafa Misipati (ETK, Auckland) by unanimous decision
Antz Nansen (ETK, Auckland) beat Junior Ioane (Highlanders, Napier) by TKO-R1
Josh 'Jaguar' Heta beats Omar Gabriel by unanimous decision
Henry Taani (South Auckland Lee Gar, Auckland) beats Sasha Kunts (City Lee Gar) by unanimous decision
King of the Ring Tournament Semi-Finals
'Notorious' Antz Nansen (ETK, Auckland) beat Henry Taani (South Auckland Lee Gar, Auckland)
The fight between Josh 'Jaguar' Heta (Sa Ming Jai, Northland) and Nato Laauli (Alpha Thai Boxing, Wellington) was declared a draw after three rounds. After a fourth round, Heta was declared the winner.
James Gordon (ETK) beat Rod MacSwain (STRIKEFORCE) by split decision
Bronwyn Wylie (ETK) beat Tegan Papasergi (HANGAR 4, MELBOURNE) by unanimous decision
'WILD' Roger Earp (Elite Thai Kickboxing) beat Joseph Concha (BULLDOG GYM, SYDNEY) by split decision
King of the Ring Tournament Final
Antz 'Notorious' Nansen (ETK, Auckland) beat Josh 'Jaguar' Heta (Sa Ming Jai, Northland) by unanimous decision
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