Capital Punishment 31: the Return
On Saturday 12th September, the Indian Event Centre in Wellington hosted Capital Punishment 31; a night of action-packed fights between local and New Zealand-wide competitors. Fight fans came in numbers to witness the event, which showcased some of the best fighting talent New Zealand has to offer, and featured its share of technical contests as well as skull-rattling knockouts.
In the bout that gave the event its title, former NZ champion Vince “the Blade” Betham returned to the ring after an 8 year hiatus to represent Wellington’s Muay Thai Institute (MTI). His opponent was 3-time NZ representative kickboxer David Watts, from Toa Fighting Systems in Invercargill. The experience of Betham was pitted against the youth and aggression of Watts, with both fighters showcasing their impressive skill sets. The lightning-fast punch combinations and head movement of Watts on the inside were met by the leg kicks and straight punches of the indomitable Betham on the outside. The bout went the distance, with Watts’ relentless pace earning him a split decision victory.
The main event was a rematch between Grant Toa Toa of Cage Fight gym, and current World Kickboxing Association (WKA) North Island MMA 75kg champion Taneira “the Terror” Terry, fighting out of the Fight Shop in Palmerston North. The fight commenced with Terry’s head kicks being answered by punches from Toa Toa. A flashy tornado kick by Terry smashed against the upthrown arms of Toa Toa, whose defence remained solid. The story of the fight was Terry’s forward momentum leading to the clinch in Toa Toa’s corner, where he pressured for the takedown, eventually succeeding in taking the fight to the floor in each of the 3 rounds. Avoiding the guillotine attempts of Toa Toa, Terry unloaded with punches and elbows, although Toa Toa did a good job of controlling his posture and restricting the ground and pound attack. While Toa Toa managed to get to his feet several times, the majority of the fight took place on the ground with Terry on top dropping strikes, which was enough for him to take a unanimous decision victory.
A highlight of the main card was a 3 round war under full Thai rules between MTI’s Angus Lindsay and Matt Sutherland of Christchurch’s Proactive Gym, which began with the icy calm of Sutherland being met by the intense focus of Lindsay in the staredown. Once the battle began, the 2 combatants used the first round to feel each other out, with the staccato report of shin-to-shin contact punctuating the cheers from the crowd. Gradually, Lindsay gained dominance, and was the bully in the clinch, landing knees and elbows, and throwing Sutherland to the canvas several times. In the 2nd round, Lindsay bloodied the nose of his opponent, who threw some effective counters, but whose face was smeared to a crimson mask as blows continued to land into the 3rd round. After earning the unanimous decision victory, Lindsay is keen to extend his win streak with more high profile fights in the future.
The full Thai rules fight between Mana Muay Thai’s Mike Kapi and MTI’s Nick Taylor was a violent whirlwind of controlled aggression. Round 1 was close, as both fighters found their rhythm. The experience of both men was evident in their calm amidst the storm of opposing attacks. In round 2, Taylor capitalised on his reach advantage, landing heavy leg kicks at range, and connecting with biting elbows when Kapi closed the distance. The damage took its toll, and Taylor took his opportunity, closing for the kill with a jumping knee followed by a powerful elbow which sent Kapi reeling to the canvas. While he found his feet at the end of the 8-count, it was on wobbly legs, and the referee had seen enough, awarding the TKO victory to Taylor.
The battle between Proactive gym’s Mitchell Stephens, and Craig Turner of Arch Angels, was an extremely close matchup, with the aggressive clinch game of Stephens being matched by the heavy kicks and blitzing punch combinations of Turner, who was awarded the split decision victory.
The young Gene Feakin of Alpha Muay Thai proved his ability to perform under pressure, with an impressive first round knockout of Four Dragons’ Aaron Tucker. Tucker came out aggressively, closing the distance on the taller Feakin, who kept his composure amidst the onslaught, and fired back with a blistering 4-punch combination which dropped Tucker. After the 8-count was answered, Feakin kept the pressure on, unleashing a thunderous left hook to the jaw of Tucker which sent him crashing unconscious to the canvas. When asked about his momentous win, Feakin stated that he was surprised at his own power, and didn’t expect to finish the fight so quickly.
In one of the more technical bouts of the evening, Scorpion Thaiboxing’s Pearse Shields faced renowned Muay Thai stylist Tyler Harrison, from Auckland’s Legacy Lee Gar gym. Both fighters looked poised as they took each other’s measure in the first round. Harrison was controlled and measured, his face a grim rictus as he blasted crisp combinations with ill intent. However, Shields’ defence was up to the task, and he used the teep to keep range and avoid damage, as well as pressing the action with an aggressive clinch game en route to a decision victory.
The clear highlight of the undercard was the heavyweight showdown between MTI’s Ata Fakalelu and Bay of Islands’ Pa Tiwi Kiro. The experience advantage of Fakalelu was balanced by the 20kg weight advantage of the formidable Kiro. From the opening bell, Fakalelu was the aggressor, with feints and varying cadence overcoming the defence of Kiro, who was sent to the canvas twice in the first round, from a right hand and a knee in the clinch respectively. Kiro came out head-hunting in the 2nd round, but Fakalelu remained calm, avoiding damage and unloading a beautiful spinning back kick to the midsection, dropping Kiro and leaving him unable to answer the 8-count.
Also on the undercard, Kieran Garcia took a decision win over Deej Edwards. The body kicks, knees, and aggression of Garcia giving him the edge in a close fight. Cyndi Ochs overcame MMA prospect Sarah Archer in a kickboxing bout, with the right hand of Ochs finding a frequent home on the chin of Archer, leading to a unanimous decision win.
If you like combat sports and want to witness local New Zealand fighting talent at its best, be sure to attend Capital Punishment 32 on 7th November in Porirua. For details, join the KO Promotions Facebook page.