August 12, 2013 – Kalare Stadium, Chiang Mai – First rounds in Thailand are very different than in the West. Many times fighters use the round to “feel out” an opponent, displaying speed and skill at half-strength as a kind of promise to the audience (and their opponent) of the tricks or power to come. However, sometimes this light display will erupt into the power and aggressiveness of a sudden knock out. Neung has a nice left hook to right cross combination that he used several times in this first round, fairly non-aggressively, but it set him up for the perfect left knee KO when his opponent leans back from the punches, and is caught by the right hand. This is a danger when trying to be an evasive fighter whose main trick is backing straight up.
You have to watch the whole round to see just how beautiful the suddenness is; it isn’t just a cool knock out, it’s a beautiful and illustrative example of Muay Thai – relaxed, controlled, calm, then explosive, then relaxed again. Like fighting fish floating in a little water globe.
After the fight Andy wanted me to make sure I understood through this example how important it is to follow up on strikes and combinations. If you back someone up and then don’t follow through, you’ve gotten nowhere; if you back someone up like this and keep going it’s a very different story. You can also see in the footwork just a very basic, natural “walking forward” step, almost identical to walking down the street: step (hop) left (jab, cross – but the right foot stays in place), then right, left: something I’ve been working on.
Neung was so stoked after this fight. He’s won by KO in the past few fights I’ve witnessed and every time he seems surprised by himself, even though he’s always totally controlled in his finishes. And then he struts.