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Four title bouts cap Lion Fight 42
Antonina Shevenchenko, left, versus Claire Baxter during the main event at Lion Fight 42.
Photo by John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr.
(Mashantucket, CT -- April 21) The Muay Thai event Lion Fight 42, which Foxwoods Resort Casino hosted, included four title fights. These included two continental championship bouts.
Antonina Shevchenko (41-1), who received vocal support from fellow Peruvians in the audience, successfully defended her women’s world lightweight title against Australian challenger Claire Baxter (19-15) during the main event. Shevchenko generally dominated the striking exchanges during the fight, which was marked by a lot of clinching as it went to decision after five rounds. Two judges scored it 48-47 and third scored it 50-45.
Amadeu Cristiano (53-17), who fights out of Boston, became the new North American middleweight champion after earning an unanimous decision over Eddie Abasolo (9-2) during the co-main event after a close fight that all three judges scored 48-47. Abasolo, who fights out of California, caught one of Cristiano’s kicks during the first round, lifted and dropped him as they exchanged punches and kicks. They continued trading strikes during the second round as Cristiano used kicks to maintain distance and landed a high side kick to Abasolo’s face -- Abasolo responded by catching his leg and throwing him. They continued to clinch and throw knees to each other’s lower legs as the fight continued. Abasolo picked up the pace in the fifth round and hit Cristiano with a punching/knees combination -- Cristiano responded with a sideways elbow thrust and countered with clinching.
Eddie Abosolo, left, versus Amadeu Cristiano during the co-main event at Lion Fight 42.
Photo by John Fulcher
The evening’s other North American title bout was a super cruiserweight fight between Steve Walker (4-0) of Boston and Olivier Fairtex (7-4) of Montreal (7-3). Walker won by unanimous decision with all three judges scoring it 50-44 and became the new champion. Fairtex demonstrated a strong chin throughout the fight, throwing Walker during the first round and attempting a few left forward elbow thrusts -- he event sent Walker sliding backwards across the rig on his behind as the opening round ended. But Walker using punching combinations to the face and body to his advantage, unloading on Fairtex during the second round and dropping him with what appeared to be an uppercut -- he knocked him down again during the fourth round after they nearly both tumbled out of the ring.
The fight that followed was a super lightweight title bout for Lion Fight’s partner organization -- Muay Thai Grand Prix. British fighter Carlton Lieu (8-3) retained his belt after defeating Brooklyn, New York’s Jafar Toshev by unanimous decision. The judges scored it 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45.
Lieu attempted a flying knee during the first round and wound up sprawled on the ropes -- Toshev attempted a punching combination as the round ended. The rest of the fight went back and forth, with Lieu a little more dominant during the striking exchanges while Toshev attempted a few spinning elbows.
The evening’s professional bouts opened with Dwayne Holman of Lodi, New Jersey losing in his professional debut due to mishap during a super lightweight fight with Soap Am (2-1). Holman dominated most of the fight, landing a high side kick to Am’s face during the first round before unloading with punches to the face and body. Both fighters sustained two blows to the groin during the first two rounds that prompted referee stoppages, but Holman definitely dominated the proceedings. But during the third round and after a frenzied striking exchange, Holman apparently broke his foot after kicking Am in the leg -- ringside observers winced in dismay as the referee waved the fight off at :47 and officials declared Am the winner by TKO.
Carlton Lieu, left, versus Jafar Toshev at Lion Fight 42 on April 21.
Photo by John Fulcher
Another Brooklyn resident, Shawn Ellis started out strong with his professional debut during the super welterweight fight that followed as he landed a variety of kicks during the first round against Julian Nguyen (2-0). But Nguyen, who trains with Team Link, increased the pace while leaning toward clinching and knees. Nguyen won the fight by unanimous decision as the judges scored it 49-46, 48-47 and 50-45.
British fighter Evan Jays (2-2) lost his first fight in America that evening as Ricardo Mixco of Maryland ended the fight at 1:38 in the first round. Mixco knocked Jays down twice with punches, prompting a count from the referee. The referee waved the fight off after Mixco, who made his professional debut that evening, cornered Jays against the ropes and swarmed him.
Mike Triana (4-0) of Team Link lost a point during the third round of his lightweight bout after striking his opponent Tyger Banks (4-2) in the cup three times during their fight. But Triana won the fight by TKO at 2:33 following a fourth-round punching combination -- he knocked Cincinnati’s Banks down during the second round but the referee only counted to eight before the fight recovered. There was a moment of levity when Triana lost his prajied (a traditional amulet worn by some fighters as an arm band).
Amine Ballafrikh (10-4) of Stirling, Virginia defeated Nick Haines (10-6) by TKO at 1:47 in the fifth round. Ballafrikh threw a knee at Haines just when he fell against the ropes during the first round, narrowly avoiding contact with the head of his downed opponent. He later landed a high side kick to Baines’s face as the round ended. Haines knocked down Ballafrikh during the second round but the latter responded by unloading punches and kicks. Ballafrikh continued to dominate a bleeding and visibly gassed Haines, prompting the referee to start a 10-count during the fifth round -- the referee waved it off after Haines was knocked down a second time and a ringside physician inspected him.
The event also included two amateur middleweight bouts that ended with unanimous decisions. Shaun Schubert of Holbrook, MA defeated David Agbodji during the first. Miguel Cadiz of Team Link defeated Hector Acosta of Boston’s Sityodtong gym during the second.
Steve Walker, left, versus Olivier Fairtex at Lion Fight 42 on April 21.
Photo by John Fulcher