November 5th's SuperShowDown show in Scotland is shaping up to be the biggest show in Scottish history and is up there with the best UK shows. Recently, promoter Brian Calder announced that the show was all but sold out, with only a handful of tickets left. Previously, we've had a look at the card as a whole and now we present you with a preview of the 8 fighters who will be competing in the 59kg tournament at SuperShowDown. For those of you who are unfamiliar with names on the UK Muay Thai circuit, I don't think I can emphasise enough how big this tournament is. Six of these eight fighters are ranked in the top 10 in UK/Irish rankings, with the exception being Jonno Chipchase (#11) and Ilias El Hajoui (26-3-1). While the line up includes veterans as well as relative newcomers, this really is anybody's tournament and as we seen in the recent It's Showtime Fast and Furious 70kg tournament, anything can happen! Read on for my run down of the fighters and who I predict will win.
Loz is the defending ISKA British Featherweight champion but has had a rocky road in his pro Muay Thai career thus far. He has a good eye for distance and throws elbows from everywhere. While he seems comfortable both fighting on the back foot and going forward, his weak spot may well be in the clinch where he has demonstrated a preference to clinch, strike and get back out again rather than engage in an all out clinch battle. This may be because he possesses a strong left knee from the clinch. Loz fought his first full Thai rules bout in the SuperFly 8 man tournament in Liverpool last year, losing in the quarter finals to Rungkorn Karmphan, originally of Thailand but now running Rung Thai out of Inverness.
While possessing a strong right kick he does tend to leave it out there, just asking to be caught. As is common in relatively young fighters, he can be drawn into brawling, after which he tends to leave hands quite low. From what I've seen, Jonno does not like to clinch, where he is especially susceptible to elbows but again this may be due more to inexperience rather than lacking the relevant defensive knowledge. Jonno also competed in the SuperFly tournament, losing to eventual finalist Deachkalon SinbiGym in the quarter finals.
Darren recently won in Thailand in which he displayed good, solid low kicks and a comfort in the clinch against his Thai opponent. I could not find much recent footage on Darren although he did fight on the first SuperShowDown event, beating late replacement Jeffrey Batista handily. In addition, he also won a 4 man tournament last year in Newcastle, England so definitely has the experience factor on his side. His clinch skills may put him in good stead to go far in this tournament.
Stephen is hands down one of the best fighters at this weight in Europe in my opinion. He fought and won at the Kings Cup, Bangkok in December 2010. He has extensive experience of living and fighting in Thailand and displays very Thai-like characteristics in both his stance and style. His boxing can be a little lax but he knows how to use it to cover his other, better scoring techniques. His relentless forward marching approach will be tough for anyone.
From what I have seen, Jose has very good boxing, especially his straight right. In addition, he is strong in the clinch and throws solid knees as well as crafty elbows in and out of clinch range. His downside in terms of scoring are his relatively slow kicks which may be his downfall if any of his fights come to decision. Jose is a strong, tenacious and experienced fighter who will definately cause problems for anyone he faces.
Keith is the only Scottish fighter on this show and will have the majority of the crown behind him. He also fought on the SuperFly tournament, making it to the finals against Deachkalon SinbiGym. In this tournament he really showed the rest of the UK how good he is with his dominant performances. His strong punches stopped Steve Brown who could not continue after being hit with a vicious left hook to the body. In the semi finals, he pulled out some very nasty elbows giving Shane Cadogan one of the biggest forehead hematomas I have ever seen. In the final against Deachkalon, he traded evenly and surprised everyone by dropping the Thai and almost pulling off what would have certainly been an upset win, only for the fight to be announced a draw. Just as an extra round was called, the culmination of damage, plus the effects of an accidental knee to the groin forced Keith to retire. He is coming back from broken leg which he sustained in the opening seconds of his fight with John Dennis back on the first SuperShowDown show in February and will be warming up for this tournament with a semi pro rules bout in October against another top Scottish name, Robin Downer.
While Carl lost a decision to Jonno Chipchase in November 2010, he has recently been sparring with Andy Howson and Liam Harrison so hopefully we can expect Carl Copestake v2.0. Carl has been discounted by many recently but he is seeing this as a chance to fight some of the best opposition out there, so my hat is off to him. He has a boxing heavy style and really likes throwing heavy body shots. While he is a competent counter fighter, he will have to take care in his attack as he tends to drop his hands when throwing or defending low kicks. Considering the number of very strong punchers in this tournament, this is a very salient weakness, especially since everyone will be looking for a quick KO victory so they can continue to the later rounds as fresh as possible.
Ilias El Hajoui
Appropriatly nicknamed Bambi, Ilias is a nimble southpaw who fights out of Ali Gunyar's camp in Holland. He likes mixing his attacks up, has a good right long knee and a tight boxing game but also throws a lot of kicks. An exciting fighter who is not afraid to throw exciting techniques like flying knees and rolling heel kicks, Ilias took a huge step up in competition recently, fighting Rungravee Sasiprapa in Ireland, suffering a 4th round KO loss. He displays a lot of the same characteristics as his teammate Ali Dimiciri who recently fought Muay Thai Scotland's #4 ranked Steven Lochhead and took what could be considered a shock victory on the night, dropping Lochhead with a horrible body shot in the first round. Ilias could be the dark horse in this tournament.
For my money, Stephen Meleady is the favourite to win this tournament. However, I'd also be putting side-bets on Keith McLachlan and Ilias El Hajoui. The draw for the quarter finals is yet to be made so it may well come to pass that my favourites for this tournament eliminate each other in earlier rounds, so we will just have to wait and see.