One of my favorite fighters to watch is JR. He started fighting for Lanna Muay Thai when he was about 12 years old and eventually became an instructor at the gym before following his primary trainer (from Lanna) named Boon out to China, who had opened a gym there. JR now is a trainer and still has fights in China, where he’s able to make a lot more money than he would in Chiang Mai. Lucky for us though he still returns to Lanna every six months or so for his visa and I get to hassle him for training help.
Perhaps the best part of having JR back, however, is getting to watch him fight. Last time he was here I watched his fight from the base of the ring, my belly pressed right against the canvas and sweat from the fighters spraying over me with every forceful contact. JR’s style is unorthodox in a number of ways, but it’s strongly Thai despite many of those differences – in attitude, for sure. His hands are incredibly fast and painfully accurate and he loves to finish with low kicks that just cripple most opponents. (I wrote about some instruction in the low kick JR gave me last week: JR Teaches Me Some of His Secrets to the Muay Thai Low Kick.) He routinely fights opponents that are 10-15 kilos (22-33 lbs) heavier than he is and tends to win by KO. He’s basically got an invisible Superman cape on in my mind.
In this fight JR started out just messing around. He doesn’t mind being hit and will take a few shots to deliver one single shot or combination that pretty much sums up whatever he just took, plus a little. I could see the other farang from the gym who don’t know JR looking uneasy, like he was getting worked over, so I calmly offered my assessment that he was probably going to play possum for the first two rounds and then explode in the third – this is done for gambling purposes. This is what happened, but on top of that the farang JR was fighting is actually very skilled and since JR didn’t seem to be trying to knock him out, I was a little concerned that JR would gas out. As a trainer who occasionally fights he’s not always in fighting shape and he decided to fight five days prior to this event, so his three days of skipping rope and running for cardio didn’t have much chance to make a difference. So, for those of you who have seen “The Fighter,” this is what JR looks like “off the couch.” I think I’ll try to buy his couch off him.