Brad Riddell once again proved why he is considered the best welterweight kickboxer in the region, as he cruised to a decisive decision victory over the much-hyped Fernando Groenhart last night on Powerplay 36.
The first round of the five-round main event started slowly as both fighters used the time to test out each other’s defence. Groenhart clearly had the reach advantage over Riddell, who at times in the opening minutes seemed to find it tough to get on the inside of his opponent. It was clear as the opening rounds wore on that what was being offered by both fighters was a high-level exhibition of kickboxing at it’s best, with incredible combos from both.
The first breakthrough in the fight came in the second round when Riddell won the better of a close quarters exchange between the two, landing a sweeping overhand right, dropping Groenhart to the canvas for an eight-count from the referee. The knockdown seemed to scramble any plans Groenhart had and Riddell pushed forward with a clear gameplan picking out key shots to land.
As the fight raged on, Groenhart started to look less composed as he began to struggle to find a suitable rhythm with which to launch attacks at Riddell. Footwork and range soon became the main focus for Riddell as he landed combo after combo before circling off and navigating away from any of Groenhart’s follow-up strikes. In the end, Groenhart began to tire and Riddell picked up the pace, putting on a kickboxing clinic for all those in attendance. Constantly working over the body with well-timed punches, Riddell was able to run away with the win.
In his post-fight interview, Groenhart was quick to point out that had the fight been over three rounds instead of five, that the result may have been very different. With the skills and polish that Riddell showed last night, it would be hard to see how this would have been the case. His first win of the year under his belt, Riddell now moves on to his next challenge as he prepares to make his debut at the ONE Super Series in April.
In the night’s semi-main event for the Australian International World Kickboxing Federation Title (IWKBF), Moulay Bekalli and Brendon McLean battled it out for five straight rounds of action before Bekkali had his hand raised with the unanimous decision.
From the opening bell, Bekkali was keen to assert his power and presence in the ring with a series of strong body rips and follow up knees. McLean took little notice of this however and pushed back at every opportunity, not wanting to let Bekkali establish dominance in the early rounds. Bekkali’s slick footwork and head movement proved the main difference between the two with Bekkali often able to land clean combos before retreating out of the way of McLean’s return shots. Most of the fight would play out this way with Bekkali cleary ahead on the judges’ scorecards going into the last two rounds.
The final two rounds of the bout were defined by an incredibly tough and durable McLean, who continually pushed forward on Bekkali, who in return, seemed to slow right down as the fight wore on. Whether it was the fitness of Bekkali or the sheer determination of McLean to move forward in search of the winner, the third and fourth rounds were a much tighter affair. In its totality, Bekkali took the fight on all judges scorecards in thanks to his precise accuracy and great footwork, but equally, McLean impressed with his ability to continually press the action. A fight well worthy of the Australian title.
Despite a considerable height, reach and experience advantage going to Steven Baldacchino in his bout with the New Zealand born Tyson Faulkner, for much of the first round it was an even affair. There were some slick exchanges from both fighters, with Faulkner impressing early on with his strong kicks and sharp hands. Experience won on the day though, when with just three seconds to go in the first round Baldacchino faked a low leg kick before looping his shin around Tyson’s neck, ending in a knockout victory for the Victorian kickboxing veteran.
In perhaps his toughest fight to date, Jayden Wright extended his undefeated record to seven fights for seven wins with a unanimous decision over Leon Charalambous. In what was at times a scrappy affair between the two local fighters, it was Wright who was able to push away in the third round with a series of strong body shots and right uppercuts that underpinned his strategy throughout. Disappointingly, it may have been the numerous trips that Charalambous was penalised for that ended up being the difference in the end result, but this is to take nothing away from Wright who stuck to his game plan until the final bell.
- Brad Riddell def. Fernando Groenhart via Decision (Unanimous)
- Moulay Bekkali def. Brendon McLean via Decision (Unanimous) (IWKBF Australian Title)
- Steven Baldacchino def. Tyson Faulkner via KO, Rd1
- Jayden Wright def. Leone Charalambous via Decision (Unanimous)
- Marcus Burke def. Rhys Karakyriacos via TKO, Rd2
- Michael Howard def. Trent-Harley Ross via KO, Rd1
- Mohammad Eldimerdash def. Joe McCoy via Decision (Split)