A Clash of Kings - King in the Ring 62kg Trilogy
Eight men walked through the florescent lights, off the ramp, and pass the VIP dinner tables. They step inside the ring. After their names were drawn out from the hat they shook each other’s hands. The audience was electrified; the atmosphere was at times tense, and exciting. The fighters know that when they walk back out again; they will fight a potential three-fight war, for $10,000, and crowned the King in the Ring.
THE KING IN THE RING
The first fight of the Eight-man tournament was Sone Vannathy vs. Alexi Serepisos. This had many on the edge of their seats and on their feet as they watched a three-fight war go down between the two. The 2x-defending champion Vannathy fought like a King defiant to leave his throne, but the young prince Serepisos fought like a man with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Serepisos landed nice sweeps, and mixed his punches well with his knees. It was Vannathy bringing the pain in the third round with a nicely executed spinning body kick, followed by a barrage of body shots. This fight could have been the final fight of the tournament; instead it was just the opener of the quarterfinals. Serepisos edged Vannathy out of a split decision.
Vannathy apologised for his performance, and gave his condolences to another son of Porirua; the late Jerry Collins. He had mentioned this might be the last time he will fight in Wellington/ Porirua. The audience applauded. They know that Vannathy with his 20 years in this sport has given so much to his City, and to those who he had taught.
The tournament continued with Kayne Conlan vs. Pumipi Ngaronoa. Ngaronoa landed good body kicks to the ribs. Conlan landed great leg kicks to the lead leg of Ngaronoa. Conlan won with a unanimous decision.
Chris Wells fought Ra Redden. During the second round Wells lands a well-timed knee that caught Redden in right spot. Redden fought to get up, but his body wouldn’t let him. Wells wins by second round TKO.
Joey Baylon wasted no time as he threw a body kick to start off the round with Nic Aratema. Both men threw with bad intentions. By the third round Aratema had a cut on his head; Baylon had grimaced a bit by Aratema’s body shots. Baylon wins by Unanimous decision.
From one battle to the next, the war is yet to be won. Serepisos was up against Conlan. As the fight went on Serepisos had started to show damage under his right eye. Conlan had taken some heavy body kicks to the ribs. As the third round finished, both men were glad it was all over…. only to find out it was a draw. They had to go an extra round. They left it all in the ring. As the bell rung everyone gave a standing ovation. Serepisos goes through to the finals, getting the hard earned victory.
Wells was up against Baylon next; in the second round Wells was countered by a left hook that dropped him to the canvas. It did not stop him as he continued to fight and threw a great teep kick to the face of Baylon. By then, their bodies were showing signs of fatigue. Baylon got the Unanimous decision going through to the finals.
THE FINAL: Alexi Serepisos vs Joey Baylon
Both men had earned the hardest victories to get here. Now down to the final two. Who will be The King in The Ring? It was back and forward action, every time Serepisos would land a great move, like a sweep, Baylon would answer it back with something more spectacular like a flying knee. Baylon threw everything but the kitchen sink with spinning back fists and a “Saenchai cartwheel kick”. Serepisos was not to be denied tonight, he went for broke with big volume of punches in bunches and knees to the body. The 10 seconds must have felt like eternity as the bell rung the final time. The Arena erupted with applause. They were brought back to the centre as the winner was announced, by majority decision. The $10,000, the big gold belt, and the title of King in the Ring belongs to….. ALEXI “PHET” SEREPISOS from Jai Wellington!
He had gone through a marathon of pain to get here, fighting a combination of 10 rounds in one night. Bruised but his spirit was never broken. He is one of the youngest fighters in the tournament, he came back after falling short of his last KITR tournament. This time he took the title away from the King, and in doing so has become the new reigning KING IN THE RING.
The opening fight was Kieran Garcia vs. Gerard Roach. Both men showed great skill and each had their moment, but it was too tough to call. It was announced a Draw.
Pati Afoa vs. Zane Hopman was a game of distance vs. power. Hopman could control the distance a bit more with his reach, thou it was a dangerous game as Afoa threw bombs, and thudding leg kicks. Hopman was awarded a Unanimous decision.
Nick Taylor was in trouble in the early seconds of the first round, momentum changed when he knocked Sean Redgrave down, Redgrave got up before the ten still wobbly, and what some would say the knock out of the night finished Redgrave with a big right hook in the first round.
Gentiane Lupi vs. Natalia Teller. It was a hard grind for these two fighters. Both seem equal in stature. Winning by spilt decision goes to the Lower Hutt native Gentiane Lupi.
The two heavyweights Nato Laauli and Thomas Peato went at it. Peato looked to be hurt in the first round by Nato’s knees to the body. Both men fought to the bitter end. Laauli picks up the unanimous victory.
This show is one of the most prestigious combat sport event many have had ever experienced. Everything from sky sport coverage, lighting, music performances, the catering for VIP tables, three different security crews, the after party buses. Most importantly all the calibre of fighters, for if it was not for them this show never would have happened. A special thank you to the organisers, Arna & Jason Suttie. Now that the newly crowned king Alexi Serepisos fights out of Wellington, let’s hope we see more shows down here again.