Thailand vs Challenger took place at the prestigious River City Shopping Complex in Bangkok on Saturday night. It was one of the most upmarket events in the history of Muay Thai and the no expense spared production was witnessed by a well heeled crowd which included a number of celebrities.
Thailand vs Challenger was set up to take Muay Thai into the mainstream and this event, which will be broadcast to a televised viewership of 600 million people worldwide, was a big step in the right direction.
The first fight of the night saw Armin Muay Thai Plaza take on Hong Guan. After some controversy early in the fight over whether the use of elbows was allowed (Wang Guan walked out the ring because he didn't like being elbowed in the face) the Thai fighter proved just a little bit too sharp for his Chinese opponent outclassing him from start to finish to cruise to a comfortable decision win.
Saiyok Windy Sport then took on Contender Asia veteran Bruce Macfie in one of the most ancitipated contests of the evening. The Thai fighter was substantially smaller than the Australian, who beat John Wayne Parr last year, but Saiyok made light of the size difference using his superior speed to pepper Macfie with some lightning fast combinations
To his credit the Macfie kept coming forward but he would have been relieved to hear the final bell after taking sustained punishment throughout the five rounds. Saiyok demonstrated why he is widely regarded as one of the top fighters in Thailand with an imperious and impressive performance which saw him repeatedly land with sharp elbows and vicious body kicks.
Kaoklai Kaennorsing and Cyrus Washington provided some of the most entertaining exchanges of the evening in an exciting opening round which saw both men showing off some unorthodox and innovative techniques. In the second round Kaoklai looked the stronger man but his American opponent came on strong in round three landing an eye catching spinning back kick which seemed to catch Kaoklai flush.
It appeared the tide might be turning but the Thai fighter responded in style with a vicious elbow which opened up an enormous cut above Washington's left eye leaving the referee no option but to step in and stop the fight. It was an anticlimactic end to an engaging contest but with blood streaming down into his eye the American was simply unable to continue.