If you don't watch anything from the Australian kickboxing/Muay Thai scene, you are sadly missing out on some great action. There are a number of great promotions running in Australia, and the shows consistently deliver top end fights with a combination of veterans like Paul Slowinski and John Wayne Parr, along with hot prospects like Thor Hoopman and recent K-1 star Ben Edwards. It's a very busy scene, with multiple upcoming shows; here are four shows definitely worth a look:
Feb. 26 - Knees of Fury 32: This show is all about the main event, which is a great battle of old guard vs. new. On one side is Paul Slowinski, who for years has been the top Australian representative to the international Heavyweight kickboxing scene. He faces the young Thor Hoopman, a John Wayne Parr trainee who is on the cusp of big things. Hoopman defeated Slowinski via decision in late 2009, and will look to score the 2nd victory here. Hoopman is still developing, and is not yet perfectly consistent, but I have high hopes for his future, and would love to see him get another good win here. The rest of the card includes: Kym Johnson vs Wes Capper; Myles Simpson vs Flip Street; Martin Olczak vs Jye Demmrich; Charlie Chau vs Hiki Hanui; Tenille May vs Sarah O'Connell; Steve Behan vs Cameran Murcott; and Tom Boyle vs Jun Lee.
April 2 - Kings of Kombat 3: More from the busy Slowinski, as this time he takes on the legend Peter Graham. This is a sort of battle of generations, as Graham was one of K-1's main Australian representatives through the early 2000's, winning a number of big fights, including a defeat of Badr Hari, until he saw that spot taken by Slowinski in the middle part of the decade. These two have met twice before, splitting the battles 1-1. While neither man is at his peak any more, this will still be a battle that Australian fans are excited about, and it should be close. Both men have had recent successes, including an MMA victory over Aleksander Emelianenko for Graham. The semi main event is also a big fight, as reigning K-1 Oceania champion Ben Edwards faces the former K-1 Vegas champ Carter Williams, who continues to try and make a comeback after a lengthy absence from the ring. Also signed is Jordan Tai vs. Steve Moxon and Atal Kakar vs. Supi Lanumata.
April 9 - Evolution 23: In this crowded scene, Evolution is leads the way. They put on shows featuring full Muay Thai rules that spotlight both local fighters along with some names from Thailand. Their 23rd show is coming up, and the main event is a good one, as longtime Aussie veteran Bruce "The Preacher" Macfie faces Frank Giorgi. This is a rematch from Evolution 22 where Giorgi scored the somewhat surprising win over Macfie, who at the time was riding high off a win over John Wayne Parr. The other fight I'm really looking forward to is Michael Thompson vs. Flip Street. Thompson is one of my favorite younger talents in this scene, and this is a good fight for him. Also on the card: Leonard Sitpholek vs. Danny Derdowski; Dane Daddy Cool vs. Serrachino; and Eli Madigan vs. Jason Scerri.
May 27 - Payback Time 3: Finally, the first fight in John Wayne Parr's 2011 retirement tour sees him main event here against his longtime rival Mike Zambidis. Zambidis is coming off his resurgent 2010 that saw him win the fight of the year against Chahid in K-1 MAX, while Parr has announced that 2011 will be his last year as a fighter. These two men are 1-1 against each other, with their fights held up as some of the greatest in the history of the Australian scene. With Parr's career coming to and end, Zambidis on the comeback trail, and both men looking to definitively win the series, this could be the Fight of the Year.
For more on these shows and the entire Australian scene, check out International Kickboxer magazine.