Code Red Sees Thai Fighter Crumble Under Pressure In Title Fight
A Chinese restaurant is an unlikely setting for eighteen hardened fighters to thrash it out in the ring, but promoter/trainers Chris Martin (Boxfit) and Jason Suttie (ETK) know how to roll out a show in style and there was the novelty of low ceilings and faux chandeliers at the Coral Reef Restaurant to add to the excitement. And feverish excitement there was. While plump orange Koi fish (an apt symbol of strength and perseverance at a show celebrating such qualities) swam lazily on the walls in green painted ponds, the action on the canvas was at times sublime.
Topping the bill at this feast of fighting excellence, was a fierce battle between two uber-professional women fighters who have already made their names in one code - kickboxing - and are now throwing down in another. New Zealand's premier woman fighter Michelle "Pressure" Preston (ETK) took on Thailand's Jubjang Lookmakarmwan for the WBO
Asia Pacific Junior Bantam Weight Female Pro Boxing Title - and won by unanimous decision. Over ten grueling rounds, Preston lived up to her
name, applying constant pressure from start to finish and overpowering Lookmakarmwan at every desperate turn. To the Thai contender's credit, she took it all and never faltered or fell to the numerous blows that crashed around her ears.
"She's a controlled boxer, and she's aiming for a world title," Preston's mother-in-law Pauline reported proudly from the ringside table she, her husband and Preston's fiance were occupying. Although no stranger to her daughter-in-law's ring sports, Pauline still doesn't "like to see her get hit." That didn't stop her proudly mentioning the numerous titles Preston has won in her successful 29-10 (wins-losses) career, or launching a volley of supportive cheers when the need arose.
On the other end of the pro boxing spectrum, newcomer Isaac Peach (Central Auckland) hitched another scalp to his belt in a display of well-timed ferocity against Jamie Waru (Krd Boxing); Peach won by unanimous decision after four rounds spent landing most of what was thrown.
Another relative newcomer to the ring, 17-year-old Rishon Harris (Nibum Gym) went against WKBF & WMC champion Bronwyn Wylie (ETK) in a brave, yet unsuccessful kickboxing attempt. With only five bouts to her name so far, Harris did well to get in the ring with the vastly more experienced Wylie. Cool and controlled in her attack, Wylie bent the Wako Rules to her advantage and took down the younger woman with what looked like a gentle hand.
The other highlight bout, of an evening spent surrounded by auspiciously coloured (red and gold) furniture and balloons, featured no such generosity as Blood Diamond (City Kickboxing) and Curtis Weeks (Lee Gar) made the best of their debuts.
Despite fighting with intelligence and skill, Weeks could not hold out against Diamond's aggressively relentless kicks and wild third round bellows. It was a crowd-pleasing unanimous decision that set off the lubricated crowd and brought a flurry of activity from Blood's corner.
So while the food may have been scarce at the Coral Reef Restaurant, ten full bouts of kickboxing and boxing looked to be more than enough to fill the gnawing, fight-hungry bellies of the friends, families and fans of NZ fighting sports in Auckland.