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It's Showtime Lyon: Chris Ngimbi vs. Willy Borrel Preview


The second bout on the card features a -70kg championship match, pitting champion Chris Ngimbi against challenger Willy Borrel.

Chris Ngimbi is coming off the biggest win of his career, a bout against Murat Direkci in which he won the It's Showtime 70MAX World Title with a 5 round unanimous decision. And while myself and some other disagree on the decision, he can prove himself as a champion by defending his belt this Saturday. Some say that you're not a proven champion until you defend your belt and I think that saying could apply here. Despite being the -70kg champ of It's Showtime, many don't consider Ngimbi to be one of the top -70kg fighters in the world. A win and successful title defense here could help him inch closer to getting more recognition, especially on a card as big as this one.

Chris Ngimbi over his career has been a very inconsistent, hot and cold, hit or miss type fighter. There would be periods where he would lose to in a row, win a few fights after and just when you thought he was resurging, he'd lose again. Well as of late that has changed. Since late 2009, Ngimbi has won four fights in a row. He's gotten through some tough competition in Chahid Oulad El Hadj, Hafid El Boustati, Anthony Nekrui and Murat Direkci whom he won the title from in December. While those fighters aren't considered the top fighters at -70kg, they're very solid wins.

Looking to take the title from Ngimbi is Willy Borrel, a 35 year old fighter from France. Many in the kickboxing community as well as myself are questioning why Borrel is getting this chance at a title shot. He's never fought in It's Showtime before. I wouldn't even consider Borrel the top -70kg fighter in France. Mickael Piscitello and Johann Fauveau out of France have beaten him quite decisively yet they're fighting on the undercard. I think it's very likely that if this card wasn't in France that he wouldn't even be on the card. Nevertheless, he's getting a shot at Chris Ngimbi's title.

Borrel is a fighter that likes to come forward and attack with a lot of kicks to the legs and body, work his way inside and bomb away. He's built like a brick shithouse and will try to use every bit of that frame to muscle his way in and pound away with hooks to the body and head. What he has shown is that he is very suscepitable to knees and that just happens to be Ngimbi's specialty. Opponents have used Borrel's aggression against him to time knees right into the midsection, which clearly have shown to be effective against him. Johann Fauveau especially did this well. Another flaw I've noticed in Borrel is that when backed up and pressured, he tends to go into a defensive shell. Now Ngimbi isn't the type of fighter who will relentlessly pressure someone but this could make it interesting if he's able to hurt Borrel and go after him.

While lackluster at times, Ngimbi finds a way to get the job done. I agree with the It's Showtime commentary crew in that Ngimbi seemed visibly nervous against Direkci. The nervousness seemed to make him much more hesitant to strike than usual. It was his first title fight in a big organization so I can understand but the fact that he seemed nervous like that for the whole fight does make you wonder. Hopefully for this fight he can have some confidence knowing that he's the champion and most people are picking him to win. A Chris Ngimbi with confidence is a very dynamic fighter.

Ngimbi has two keys to win this fight. Use his footwork to stay just outside of Borrel's range while staying off the ropes and utilizing his knees to hurt Borrel and keep him away. Ngimbi has to keep Borrel just outside of his range so he can tee off with counters to disrupt Borrel's aggression. A confident Ngimbi counters effectively. Ngimbi can't let himself get caught up on the ropes because that's where Borrel will use his frame to bully Ngimbi. The one think that Ngimbi has that can change the fight are his knees. Ngimbi throws his knees on the inside from positions that opponents aren't expecting. Chahid Oulad El Hadj and Murat Direkci were both dropped by a knee from Ngimbi and Anthony Nekrui was stopped by one. If Ngimbi can get one off while Borrel doesn't expect it, it could be nighty night for Borrel.

At 35 years old, you have to wonder how much punishment Borrel can take. He might be able to get some good shots off on Ngimbi but then again can he survive the shots of Ngimbi, especially the knees?

Expect Ngimbi to be countering and Borrel to be coming forward with it being even or slightly in Ngimbi's favor for the first few rounds before Ngimbi starts to get the better of Borrel and finishes him with a knee to the chin in the championship rounds.


It's Showtime Lyon: Giorgio Petrosyan vs Chahid Oulad El Hadj Preview


Kicking off the main card of It's Showtime Lyon is the universally recognized pound for pounded #1 fighter in the sport, Giorgio Petrosyan taking on "The Pitbull," Chahid Oulad El Hadj, commonly referred to as Chahid.

Petrosyan looks to continue his status as the best in the world, already taking part in his third fight of 2011. This year he's already faced Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee and Cosmo Alexandre, adding to his already near flawless record. It's confusing as to why he hasn't already gotten a title shot in It's Showtime. Some past troubles between himself and the organization may be the reason why. He'll have a chance to finally get the It's Showtime 70MAX world title at the Fast and Furious Five tournament this September.

Right now though, Giorgio Petrosyan has Chahid on his hands. Chahid is a tough fight for most but for Petrosyan it's just a stay busy bout. Petrosyan is that good.

Chahid is another one of those Dutch style fighters who loves to go forward and hunt down his opponent. Although very aggressive at times, Chahid showed in his fight on December 10 of last year against Rafal Dudek that he can also come forward without reckless abandon and pick his shots. That's pretty much out the window though as trying to pick shots and out-technique Petrosyan is a lost cause.

Petrosyan has shown time and time again that he can stay in one gear the whole fight and cruise to a decision, making his opponent appear to be completely clueless. Many have tried to chase down Petrosyan and all they all end up the same, getting taken to school by "The Doctor."

We can try and make it look like Chahid has a chance to upset Petrosyan but the reality is that he'll end up like all the others who have went up against Petrosyan. Chahid will chase Petrosyan all over the ring while Petrosyan puts on one of his trademark clinics. Chahid will be lost from the angles and counters that are thrown at him. Every move Chahid makes, Petrosyan will be two steps ahead.

Look for Petrosyan to cruise to a Petrosyan-esque decision with Chahid left looking frustrated and clueless as to how to figure out the number one fighter in all of combat sports today.


It's Showtime Lyon: Mosab Amrani vs. Houcine Bennoui Preview

mosabamraniThis Saturday at It's Showtime Lyon, the always entertaining Mosab Amrani will go to battle with Houcine Bennoui, the brother of It's Showtime 61MAX Champ Karim Bennoui.

What boggles my mind is that somehow this fight is on the undercard. It won't be shown. Both of these men are always in wars and Mosab especially is one of the biggest crowd pleasers in kickboxing. It just goes to show how stacked this card is on Saturday. Mosab Amrani was main eventing It's Showtime on December 18 in a fight of the year candidate and now he finds himself on the undercard. I can see what It's Showtime is doing, making the undercard all fights with full Thai rules but this definitely leaves something to be desired.

Mosab Amrani is one of the rising stars of kickboxing. Possessing one of the most crowd pleasing styles in the sport, he is always going forward throwing non stop strikes trying to break his opponent. Fans began to take note after his fight with Mohammed Khamal on December 18 of last year. In what was a non stop, back and forth war, Khamal edged out Amrani in the extra round in a candidate for fight of the year. Despite the loss, Mosab gained tons of respect from the whole kickboxing community for his unbreakable will that was put on display.

His opponent, Houcine Bennoui is another fighter who loves to only go one direction, forward. Bennoui charges forward, blitzing his opponents with every strike in the book. He tends to get wild while blitzing his opponents and looking for the finish, often leaving himself open to counter. You'd be surprised how different his fighting style is compared to his brother Karim, who takes a much more technical approach to fighting.

Both of these fighters excel when moving forward. The styles of Amrani and Bennoui are just almost guaranteed for another all out war in the ring that Mosab Amrani has become known for. It's likely that whoever spends more time backing up will lose. Expect a lot of strikes being traded right in the pocket as both men take full utilization of every strike allowed in the rule book. Amrani especially loves to trade and let it be known to his opponent that he can take what's given and deliver it back ten times harder.

I think the X factor in this fight will be Amrani's chin. Amrani has never been knocked out and has a chin made of granite. Bennoui has been stopped a few times, including a brutal one punch knockout in October of last year at the hands of Alessandro Campagna. Both fighters go for the kill with every strike thrown and have no problem with taking one to give one.

I think the difference in punch resistance will decide in the fight. Look for Amrani to win the battle of, "I'm gonna force you backwards and there's nothing you can do about it." and delightfully walk through Bennoui's strikes while tagging Bennoui on the chin and hurting him en route to a stoppage in the third round.


Photo of the Day: It's Not Just Horse Meat for Badr hari

Badr Hari's return to the ring comes this weekend at It's Showtime Lyon, and many fans are excited to see Badr Hari back in action. Many have taken note to Badr Hari's much-improved physique. Mike's Gym does a great job of keeping fans updated on their Facebook page; Here is a photo of Badr Hari training for his comeback fight, showing how he got himself into tip-top condition.


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