I was initially scheduled to fight a woman who I’d seen compete for a title belt at Loi Kroh Stadium a month ago. She’d challenged the current belt holder and lost and the promoter requested me, which I’m inclined to believe means he’d eventually like me to fight the winner as well.
Den wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the fight because I was scheduled to fight one week before at the other stadium, but I assured him that I wanted to fight both bouts and was especially excited to be fighting on my birthday, so November 3rd was absolutely a go for me unless I sustained injuries in the first fight to prevent that.
A few days before this fight I found out I wasn’t going to be facing the woman we’d thought, as she had to go do a fight for her school (as Den explained it). That was too bad because I was excited to fight her, but I’d been preparing for a south paw. A week isn’t really enough time to make significant changes in tactics, so there was no “reworking” necessary other than not being certain of a south paw. I’ll fight that woman eventually.
Andy drove me and Kevin down to the venue and I was happy to have him there – he’s been away for work all week. As we were finding parking we almost literally ran into the Thai boys who are always my corner, carrying the mat and bag full of supplies for handwraps, etc.
It was a long wait for my fight. I was bout number 5, after the “Blind Eyes Boxers” which is a comedy show in which three blindfolded men (one of whom is often a dwarf) are released into the ring and bash at each other for one round, then circle the crowd for tips. It’s a gimmick for westerners and likely it does get them to tell others about the show, but I hate it – I resent that my fight is often the followup. As I was having my hands wrapped by Big, however, I got to watch the 30 kg “Super Kids” fight and it was awesome. These kids were going at each other with such confidence and a really impressive level of skill – they couldn’t have been more than 7 years old but they were competent; better than I am, for sure. I couldn’t stop watching them and Big kept yelling at me because I wasn’t paying attention to his commands to open or close my fist for the wrap.
While I was getting my oil massage a small group of women gathered near me and once I was standing for my arms to be rubbed down they clamored over and wanted to take pictures with me. I obliged and about four of them cycled through in various different combinations, rotating who was holding the camera and how many of them were in each frame, for about a dozen pictures. After the fight a group of young men did the same thing, these being students of a former trainer at Lanna who now owns his own gym. I don’t think I’ve ever done so many pictures at once outside of weddings and reunions.
The fight itself was disappointing for me, although I do recognize and appreciate it as a good experience for growth. My opponent was bigger than I am by probably 3-4 kilograms (6-8 lbs) and from the first strikes of the first round I could tell she had speed and skill. I felt she was overwhelmed by my power when I landed good punches and low kicks, but she was quick to answer with punches and elbows right from the start. As the rounds went on I felt to myself that she was a better fighter than how she was performing, but she also wasn’t really doing much to control or win the fight. Between rounds my corner told me both to take a half-step back and really set things up, just experiment and use this fight to test things out as I wasn’t in any danger and also to go in and knee her in the clinch to tire her out because she wasn’t going to last through the fight. Den explained that she was sick, had a fever and took this fight on about 3 hours notice. That’s both very badass and very Thailand. Ultimately that’s what finished this fight. She was fading fast and when the ref saw she was in trouble and not meeting the intensity he called it.
I didn’t feel great about the stoppage or the win, but I did better in the fight than I probably think. I introduced the low-kick to hook combination that I’d tried out of the last week and landed most of them, backed up when I caught her leg and ended up dumping her from a good four feet up, and was attempting more combinations than I have in prior fights. She tried to get me to chase her – in Thailand a tactics to win rounds and even fights against farang – and I effectively cut her off (but then I failed to really jump in and land power strikes while she was on the ropes). It’s a slow process, but it’s moving. Andy was very excited by my progress and as my wraps were coming off he talked to me about taking combinations a step further now that I’m putting a few together – like adding cars to the end of a train, you just keep building.
I’ll face this woman again when she’s well and it will be a different fight, but by then I expect to be better already and will bring more to her as well. She landed an elbow to my temple and another to my right bicep, which still hurts and I can’t straighten my arm a day later – she was absolutely in that fight in the early rounds. I’ve been an easy win for opponents before and I don’t feel sorry for myself in those cases at all. I was there, I was fighting and I brought to it everything I was capable of bringing under those circumstances and that’s what I suspect she did as well. It’s just a hard day at the office.