Thai boxing packs the YMCA

A thousand fans packed the YMCA on Saturday night when Australasia’s longest-running fight series returned to New Zealand for the second time.

Knees of Fury 45 featured 16 bouts of Thai boxing action and saw a new champion crowned before culminating in a heavyweight trans-Tasman superfight.

Andre "The Giant" Meunier (centre) with James Roesler (left) and promoter Ethan Shepp after his successful bout. Photo: Don Rowe
Andre “The Giant” Meunier (centre) with James Roesler (left) and promoter Ethan Shepp after his successful bout. Photo: Don Rowe

In what may be the fight of the year, hometown hero Quade “The Magician” Taranaki lost a unanimous decision to the dangerous Jordan “Sniper” Syme over five rounds for the WKBF NZ Light Welterweight (62.4-64.5kg) title and a chance to compete for $15000 at King in the Ring next month.

Taranaki took the first two rounds with his speed and combination attacks before being dropped in the third by a right hand to the body.

“The body shots really took me by surprise. It was hard to get the air back in,” Taranaki said.

The Magician survived the round but never fully recovered to his earlier form with Syme taking the belt and qualifying for the King in the Ring tournament.

Taranaki was generous in his defeat. “I think he deserved it. I guess it’s back to training this week.”

Taranaki and Syme are set to rematch for the World Muay Thai Council title later this year – a match Taranaki says is “going to be a war”.

Fraser High School student and House of Pain representative Jordan Forlong, 16, picked up an early technical knockout over Te Awamutu’s Rubein Libline with a ferocious attack that saw Libline on the canvas several times.

The win has Forlong in good form ahead of the world amateur championships in Malaysia this May.

“It was good to have a first-round finish in my home town in front of all the people I know,” Forlong said.

The main event had all the ingredients of an instant classic when more than 200kg of powerful muscle met in an epic trans-Tasman clash that had the crowd in a frenzy.

Australia’s Andre “The Giant” Meunier took on Avau “The Executioner” Faafautua in a wild brawl that saw both fighters swinging until a combination of body punches and a vicious uppercut from Meunier left Faafautua face down and unconscious on the floor.

Promoter Ethan Shepp said he was pleased with the event and the performances of his fighters.

“I’m very happy with the show and my boys’ fights.”

Shepp plans to run two shows in Hamilton this year as well as four Australian events.

Knees of Fury returns in October with fights to be announced at a later date