Yokkao.. Where the crème de la crème of Muay Thai whip up some of the tastiest fights for fans around the world to feast their eyes on. Yokkao 27&28 was no exception to this.
Gary Laws vs Adam Haslan
Starting off the Yokkao 27 main event we had Adam Haslan facing off against Gary Laws both weighing in at 61.5kg. The first round was a very traditional “feeling out” round, both fighters came out composed and in the centre of the ring. Both fighters were trying to effectively use the feint to decrypt the opponent’s movement patterns in an attempt to gain the upper hand in the fight. Haslan came out switching back and forth from orthodox and southpaw in an attempt to throw off Laws ability to predict his movements. Quick exchanges were thrown by both fighters to test the waters however Laws was able to sweep Haslan. The tempo of the fight increased as we moved into round 2.
Haslan picked up the pace and was a lot more active than Laws. This round saw a lot more of the clinch with Haslan pushing forward and asserting his dominance however Laws was doing well on the counter and were successfully able to draw blood from Haslan with the first piercing elbow of the night. This aggression followed through and multiplied in the 3rd round with Haslan landing two fantastic sweeps and attempting to reply to the elbow that he received earlier with a spinning back elbow of his own, sadly missing the target as it landed on Laws chest.
Laws tried to match this aggression and resorted to relying on his raw strength to manoeuver Haslan in the clinch but Haslan kept his composure and with beautiful clinch technique was able to keep Laws at bay.
The clinch continued into the 4th round. It started off as a real clinch war with Laws still trying to push forward, however his strength seemed to be fading as Haslan was able to pull off two sweeps with the second being a spectacular show of counter clinch work and sheer good timing. On top of this he was also able to secure Laws’ back in the clinch which was a great score for him.
This carried on into the 5th round with Laws not being able to keep up with Haslan’s consistent pressure. Laws was drained from pushing forward with an aggressive tempo in the earlier rounds and although he showed great heart and stood toe to toe with his opponent to the very end. Haslan’s display of superior technique, and consistent composure swayed the judges to crown him victorious with a unanimous decision win.
Joe Craven vs Matthew Crozier
The 2nd fight of the main event was one of the shorter yet more explosive fights of the night. Both Joe craven and Matthew Crozier within their 71.5kg frames came out with a fast-paced opening round. Both fighters seemed to be looking to stun their opponent early but Craven’s strikes, specifically his punches, looked a lot heavier and hard hitting than Crozier’s. Amongst the chaos both fighters showcased elite striking ability, with Craven pulling off spectacular combinations. Just shy over the two-minute mark, Craven reinforced my earlier observations of his hard-hitting punches by landing a straight body shot which was too much for Crozier to handle. One that he was unable to recover from. The fight ended at 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the first round with Crozier unable to make the 8 counts. Therefore, Craven took home a K.O victory that he can be very proud of.
Spencer Brown vs Stewart Pringle
Fight 3 featured Spencer Brown standing off against Steward Pringle, matched at 64kg. The fight started off with both fighters coming with a very calculated approach in rounds 1 and 2. Brown threw a series of very nice and accurately placed low kicks with Pringle returning with very precise yet controlled teeps and feints, equalising browns aggressive efforts.
Brown anticipated this and did some great work, closing the distance by catching Pringles teeps and kicks. Holding onto the caught leg in an attempt to make Pringle off balance and then pushing forward with quick snapping combinations. Pringle showed great durability and kept his composure in Browns line of fire with a strong guard.
Round 3 saw both fighters meet at the centre of the ring. Brown pushing the pace even more with no signs of fatigue and Pringle meeting him kick for kick. Brown was looking the more composed of the two and also bagged a nice sweep to take the dominant position in the fight, however, Pringle showed no signs of damage, a true testament to his durability.
Round 4 is where Brown really began to outshine Pringle. His confidence and cool nature amongst the madness really started to leave a good Impression. As Brown’s kicks got sharper, Pringle was not able to keep up. Both fighters entered a very calculated war with evading and landing venomous kicks but brown was doing a great job of making Pringle miss and then making him pay. Sensing this, Pringle tried to draw the fight into a clinch and looked strong but browns counterwork was too sharp and was able to put Pringle on the floor twice via sweep. He also managed to land some decent elbows within his clinch work.
This carried on into the 5th round, both fighters looked strong but Brown was landing a lot more than Pringle. I have to acknowledge Pringle’s immense durability as he took a strong elbow from Brown and shook it off instantly. By the end of the 5th, it was obvious that Brown was the fighter that showed no signs of fatigue until the very end. He also landed a lot more and was the more dominant fighter and rightfully so, walked home with the unanimous decision win.
Jacob Smith vs Reece Thompson
Jacob Smith vs Reece Thompson was the 4th fight of Yokkao 27. This fight was a very entertaining fight to watch. It featured the age-old clash of styles that has created some of the most memorable exchanges in all of Muay Thai history.
Smith came with the very raw, aggressive and fast-paced style with devastating power and speed, coming from his menacing and very obvious physical gifts, the man looked like he was made in a lab. Thompson, on the other hand, came in with the very relaxed, technical and calculated style one that relied heavily on ring craft and timing. Both styles beautifully complemented each other because it was like watching a monster face off against a magician.
Straight from the get-go, Smith moved forward with relentless pressure and bad intentions by throwing a flurry of powerful combinations. Thompson used his strategic prowess to just about nullify these vicious attacks, teeping away the distance and cutting off the angles with great composure and also utilising his long-range jab as well.
These exchanges took up the majority of the first two rounds, with Smith landing big punches followed by Thompson doing well to wrap him up in the clinch. Landing a few good knees that didn’t seem to faze Smith in the slightest.
Rounds 3 and 4 followed in a similar fashion. At points, Smith seemed to look the stronger fighter because of his relentless pressure and endless gas tank. Thompson was also able to effectively score in the clinch with both fighters sweeping each other multiple times in round 4. Smith sweeping Thompson 3 times and Thompson returning with two successful sweeps of his own.
Moving into the final round, Smith’s work rate actually went up another gear showing elite levels of the human condition forcing Thompson to rely on his range and his world class teep to defend against Smiths zombie like forward march. Both fighters and their conflicting styles managed to equalise each other and the bout ended in a draw. Leaving both fighters with immense respect for one another.
Chris Shaw vs Superlek Kiatmoo9
Fight five left the notes that I used to write this very report covered in blood stains. I never would have thought that the word ‘war’ would ever be an understatement when describing anything, but this was the case when describing the bloodbath between Christopher Shaw and Thailand’s very own former Lumpinee champion.
The one and only Superlek (61kg). There was no beginning middle or end to this fight. It stayed at one pace the whole way through and that was 100mph. Before the fight had even began we could see the sheer animosity between both warriors as the climax of Superlek’s traditional Wai Kru was to grab Shaw’s glove and pull him into the centre of the ring. Where both fighters looked into one another with pure malice and acknowledged each other’s presence.
Round 1 and Superlek had already painted the ring canvas with Shaw’s blood, in this case using his elbows instead of a paintbrush. Shaw was already cut twice and streaming blood from his head even before halfway into the first round. It seemed as if in this scenario both fighters could only see red, Shaw literally and Superlek with rage. In this microcosm of madness, Superlek, in an attempt to prove that he is classes above Shaw even tried to cartwheel kick him in the very first round, with Shaw evading it with lighting reflexes.
By the second round Shaw was drowning, both in his own blood and Superlek’s immense pressure. It was obvious that Superlek was outclassing Shaw however, the most impressive thing to come out of the fight so far was the fact that Shaw showed absolutely no signs of backing off. Instead, he was standing face to face with Superlek, taking all of his wrath head on.
In addition to this and to the amazement of everybody who witnessed this battle, Shaw would reply to Superlek’s deadly assaults with a cheeky grin and signifying an “is that all you’ve got?” gesture, simply a super human feat. Coming into end of round 3 it was almost as if Shaw had found his feet and what I mean by that is that he teeped Superlek directly in the face after taking what seemed to be a trilogy of bludgeoning low kicks. This sent Superlek into a fit of rage like no other because a teep to the face is seen as a huge mark of disrespect in Thailand.
By round 4 the referee had already paused the bout once to have a look at Shaw’s, (now four) deep gashes in the head left by Superlek’s spearing elbows. Shaw’s corner team did all that they possibly could to stop the bleeding and cover the cuts, but failed because Superlek would gauge them back open again. I noticed that Shaw went to the extent of blinking as little as possible so the blood from his wounds wouldn’t blind him. Rightfully so, because Superlek started attacking mercilessly with all the 8 limbs permitted in Muay Thai, leaving no time for Shaw to breath let alone blink.
On the other hand, he started neglecting his own defence and Shaw with his iron will actually mustered up an attack of his own and started to level with Superlek. However, his grievous injuries limited his power. Superlek took advantage of this as he gambled the power of his own strikes against Shaw’s. His decision to do this was right. Superlek’s immense pressure and power was too much for Shaw.
Even though Shaw stood his ground and showcased extra ordinary warrior spirit and diamond hard will power, by the end of round 5 it was obvious that the winner was Superlek. Thus, came the end of a battle that even the Spartans would envy with Superlek taking the Unanimous decision win.
Liam Harrison vs Kevin Burmester
Throughout history, individuals have developed or been gifted with signature moves or attributes that have stood out. This has been extremely prevalent throughout the course of Combat sports. An example of this could be seen as the Ali shuffle, Mike Tyson’s knockout power or Saenchai’s famous cartwheel kick. Liam Harrison’s low kick also belongs in this legendary group of signature moves.
Liam Harrison’s scheduled bout against Kevin Burmester, matched at 65kg, started off with Kevin showing incredible hand speed. Burmester threw multiple combinations towards Harrison, however the 8 time world champion remained calm. He retaliated with a strong guard and a single low kick which moved Burmester’s entire body over. In this moment, it was clear to see the mastery accomplished over the years of hard work that Harrison has put into perfecting his low kick.
This is because the pain and sheer surprise over the power of this one low-kick was visible in Burmester’s expression. Both fighters then entered into a series of clinches and were both able to drop one another via sweep, however the remnants of Harrisons low kicks were beginning to show up on Burmester’s right leg in the form of instant purple bruising and inflamed swelling.
Coming into the second round it was easily noticeable that Burmester was no longer able to put any weight on to his right leg due to the damage sustained from Harrison’s Low-kicks. All Liam Harrison did, much like a lumberjack was chop Burmester down with few more Low kicks until he was unable to stand. Harrison carried out the business as usual and won via low kick K.O in the second round.
After the break, the audience returned to their seats having emptied their bladders and filled their stomachs, they were now ready for Yokkao 28. Six more world class, full Thai rule bouts between the some of the most talented fighters this planet has to offer. Tune in tomorrow for the Yokkao 28 write-up!