Friday, 3 September, 2010 - YMCA Stadium
Tightly-woven dreadlocks streaming out behind him, Faisal "Diamond Flyer" Zakaria (LKT, Sudan/NZ) heads back towards the mat, meeting it again with a sickening thump. This time he doesn't get up; he has reached his limit, and it is the fourth round. Forty-five seconds have passed in the round and the WMC Super Heavyweight Intercontinental belt is now officially the property of Andrew "Powerhouse" Peck (Universal Kickboxing, NZ) by TKO.
Powerhouse Peck looks satisfied. He looks slightly smug even, as though he knew the outcome all along, and had Zakaria's number from the first bell. His stricken opponent gets to his feet slowly, technically knocked out of contention, but having risen again numerous times during this fight. Each time, it has been the strength and power of the aptly named Peck that has flung him back down, on to the sweaty, bloody canvas.
First off, he jumped at the bell, and began hurling high-kicks, spinning fists and knees at the heavier Muay Thai fighter, but these were all shrugged off, or forcefully bundled into a corner along with the Sudanese fighter's golden, shimmering shorts. He had heart though, he kept getting back up and kicking his heels towards the cavernous, dark roof of the YMCA; aiming for Peck's ears, and sometimes finding the mark.
Jom Bing was the same. He had heart, he had experience (over 200 fights), and he had the fearsome look of statues guarding a Buddhist temple: the glaring, stylized warriors that woodenly ward off evil. But it wasn't enough to fend off the younger, leaner, faster blows of Jason "Essex Boy" Woodhouse. Bing took the challenge, dealt his blows, but 13 minutes and 25 seconds into the fight (one minute 25 seconds, Round 5 - final round) he was forced to his knees by the savage force of the Essex Boy's foot: a KO win for the "Handsome Hero", and an almighty eruption of sound from the darkness enclosing the ring.
But let's look back a little further. Four bouts of quality novice action began the evening, starting with the son of Powerhouse Peck, Christopher Peck (Universal Kickboxing). Bookending the show with a Peck fight at either end of the spectrum was a nice way to roll the crowd, and although the son didn't win his bout, he showed more than his share of promise against Hayden Cooper (Sai Ming Jai).
Three more fighters-with-promise moved the cold night through the novice matches, and on to the Amateur rounds - modified Muay Thai rules. Joe Hayes (Roundhouse Kickboxing) chopped Tommy Collet's (Leegar North Shore) legs from under him in a round three unanimous victory. Olle Jack (ETK) took a couple of spills, before trying the same hacking tactic on Kurt Wall (Universal Kickboxing) to win unanimously. Anton Fatkin (Leegar North Shore) was more direct in his approach to Morgan Rangi (Roundhouse Kickboxing), raining down on Rangi with a steady stream of knees to the body: Unanimous decision in Fatkin's corner.
Upsetting the order, a draw was called next between JB (Universal Kickboxing) and Daniel Vesetolu (SMAC). The slap of a push-kick meeting chest, then the "Woy!!" of crowd excitement as a jarring punch collided with jaw. Cramping Bon Jovi's style, Bob Marley then eased Boy Aumareva (Glen Innes Leegar) into the ring to face hard-hitter Victor Mechkov (ETK). The man throwing sledgehammer's - Mechkov - went to work straight away on Boy, shattering the brief calm Aumareva's entrance had built. But it was the leg-work, once again, that finally brought the tough Boy down at the final bell: a unanimous decision to Mechkov.
The final amateurs to take the ring, before the professionals began their campaigns, were Tiki Bishop (Universal Kickboxing) and James Gordon (ETK) in a punching match that fell into Gordon's corner unanimously.
If skilful, bloody battles; top-notch lighting set-ups; plenty of smoky, dramatic entrances; and a superior DJ are the foundations of a great show, Universal Soldier was a solid-rock temple of entertainment that fit snugly within the walls of the YMCA.
Full fight results
Hayden Cooper (Sai Ming Jai) Won by unanimous decision VS Christopher Peck (Universal Kickboxing)
Henry Ekdahl (Universal Kickboxing) Won by Split Decision VS Chris Cunningham (MGMT)
Rhys Cooper (Sai Ming Jai) Won by unanimous decision VS Nasser Giacnan (Strike Force)
Darcy Bowden (Roundhouse Kickboxing) Won by unanimous decision VS Daniel Taylor (Universal Kickboxing)
Joe Hayes (Roundhouse Kickboxing) Won by unanimous decision VS Tommy Collet (Leegar North Shore)
Olle Jack (ETK) Won by unanimous decision VS Kurt Wall (Universal Kickboxing)
Anton Fatkin (Leegar North Shore) Won by unanimous decision VS Morgan Rangi (Roundhouse Kickboxing)
JB (Universal Kickboxing) Draw VS Daniel Vesetolu (SMAC) Draw
Victor Mechkov (ETK) Won by unanimous decision VS Boy Aumareva (Glen Innes Leegar)
James Gordon (ETK) Won by unanimous decision VS Tiki Bishop (Universal Kickboxing)
Professional Bout - Full Muay Thai Rules
Jason "Essex Boy" Woodhouse WON by KO-R5 VS Jom Bing
WMC Super Heavyweight Intercontinental Title Bout
Andrew "Powerhouse" Peck WON by TKO-R4 VS Faisal "Diamond Flyer" Zakaria