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ARCHIVED STORY SUMMER 2019
Lion Fight 58: Walker wins world title;
George defeats Hlavacek during Muay Thai event
Joy George hits Brett Hlaveacek during the main event on August 17 at Foxwoods.
Photo by John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr.
(Mashantucket, CT -- Aug. 17)
Lion Fight North American Super Cruiserweight champion Steve Walker (8-0) defeated Chris Bradford (24-14) during the main event of Lion Fight 58 at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Walker, who fights out of Boston, earned a unanimous decision and secured the Muay Thai promotion’s world super cruiserweight belt.
Joy George (7-2) defeated North American Cruiserweight champion Brett Hlavacek (19-6) during the co-main event, taking his belt after five hard-fought rounds. Hlavacek, who fights out of Brooklyn, currently holds the promotion’s light heavyweight belt.
Walker opened his fight by standing on one leg and flashing his leg forward in a classic Muay Thai stance. He and his Australian challenger cautiously felt each other out with Walker periodically exploding into brief punching flurries and at one point landing a elbow. Walker stumbled during a striking exchange but recovered quickly before the first round ended.
The champion opened he second round with high side kicks, punches and two unsuccessful flying kicks that elicited cheers from the crowd before cinching. He landed some light body kicks, threw a punching combination and attempted another flying kick. Bradford attempted some offense but Walker generally dominated the fight, knocking the Australian down before transitioning to body punches.
They went back and forth during the third round, but Walker actually slipped three times trying to kick Bradford.
The Australian caught one of Walker’s kicks and threw him during the third round. Bradford began to shine a little at this point, slipping and bobbing while landing a few strong punches. He slipped a high side kick from Walker while standing his back to him toward the end of the round..
Walker opened the fifth round with aggressive striking but Bradford intercepted some of his kicks and at one point lifted and threw him. Walker almost slipped again and tried to threw another flying kick.
All three judges scored the fight 80-45.
Chris Mauceri slips a punch from Stephen Oppong.
Photo by John Fulcher
Hlavacek, in his first defense of his cruiserweight title, caught George’s kicks and flipped a few times during fight. But the Canadian challenger stayed aggressive and pressured Hlavacek throughout the fight.
Hlavacek fell out of the ring during the second round, which ended with George cornering the then-champion, landing a spinning elbow and attempting a striking combination in the clinch.
Hlavacek’s neck got caught in the ropes during the third and a straight high kick from George sent him backwards into the edge of the ring again. Hlavacek attempted a elbow thrust that went nowhere but after some clinching caught a lick and threw George. He later struck George with an upwards spinning elbow from a awkward, bent position and seemed to try turning the tide. He appeared almost exaggeratedly dazed as he leaned against the ropes following a clinch with George and an exchange of knees, but then sent the Canadian sprawling with a kick as the round ended.
Hlavacek caught one of George’s kicks and elbowed him early in the fourth round. George then landed a middle side kick but Hlavacek grabbed his leg ad threw him. They continued back and fort although George appeared more aggressive with his punching combinations.
Hlavacek tried to become more aggressive despite appearing almost lethargic during the fifth round and George bled from his forehead. The belt holder attempted to hit George with a body combination and then used clinching to stifle his attacks. Both fighters fell to the ground towards the end of the fight.
Two judges scored the fight 50-45 in favor of George while one scored it 48-47 in his favor.
Mizra Hopovac, left, versus Joe Stripling.
Photo by John Fulcher
The main card opened with a heavyweight bout between Bosnian native Mirza Hopovac (2-1) and Joe Stripling (5-1), who fights out of Delaware. The muscular Hopovac appeared to dominate the first round with a variety of strikes but the stocky Stripling began to pick up the pace as it ended.
Hopovac opened strong I the second round but after some clinching Stripling hit him with some body shots and what appeared to be a knee, ending the fight with a knockout at 1:26.
The next fight was a welterweight bout between Chris Mauceri (8-4) and Stephen Oppong (7-6) of Montreal. Mauceri, who fights out of New York, seemed to favor punching during the fight while Oppong leaned towards kicks and clinching. Although Mauceri stalked Oppong for much of the fight between striking exchanges, the Canadian became gradually more aggressive with punching combinations during the second round and landed more kicks -- he actually ended he fourth round landing a side kick to Mauceri’s chest.
Mauceri won the fight by unanimous decision, with two judges scoring it 49-46 and one scoring it 48-47.
There were also five amateur fights on the preliminary card.
Super Lightweight - Nate Bennette defeated Stretch Acevedo by unanimous decision.
Featherweight - Liz Loud defeated Leah Cobelli by unanimous decision.
Super welterweight - Matt Negrotti defeated Cullen Johnson by unanimous decision.
Cruiserweight - Nazar Mazurkeyvch defeated Alex Brown by split decision.
Super middleweight - Kachamaa Hylton defeated Aaron Ortiz by unanimous decision.
(Editor’s note: a welterweight bout between Dwayne Holman (2-1) and Matt Mclusker (0-3) was cancelled.)