King in the Ring on Saturday
King in the Ring on Saturday
Fighters from across the country are gearing up for one of New Zealand’s most high profile eight-man tournament series, King in the Ring.
The eight cruiserweights (subs: 86kgs) will battle it out this Saturday (subs: August 30) at Auckland’s ASB stadium, with last year’s champion Ty Williams returning to defend his title.
The 27-year-old Porirua fighter came from nowhere to win three bouts in one night and take the title last year.
Williams does not have a strategy going into this year’s tournament, and aims to spend fight day keeping his mind clear through meditation and relaxation.
‘’I can't think like a fan and get stuck into the hype - it wouldn't serve me well in the fight.’’
He rates 25-year-old Auckland-based professional fighter Israel ‘Style Bender’ Adesanya as the man to beat on the night. ‘’He’s a cut above the rest,’’ Williams said.
Adesanya, whose titles include WKBF New Zealand cruiserweight and light-heavyweight champion and IKBF New Zealand Super 8 champion, is the first Kiwi to compete on kickboxing's biggest international stage, the Glory World Series.
Adesanya’s ritual for fight day is ‘’get bald, and just relax and do whatevs’’.
‘’I feel awesome. I've had my mind on this since April. I've jumped a few levels up on my training. My strategy is to whoop any man that stands in front of me that night ... pretty basic.’’
Fellow Auckland fighter, Slava 'Scarface' Alexeichik, also carries a host of titles under his belt. The current HKMTA South Pacific Super-middleweight and Commonwealth light-heavy weight champion and former WKBF NZ super-middleweight and light-heavyweight champion is set to make waves in this weekend’s eight-man.
‘’I feel very confident. I have done all the work if not more and come prepared. All I have to do now is make sure I can put it all together on the night.’’
Alexeichik’s fight day technique includes relaxing and watching movies.
‘‘I like to watch my old fight DVDs. [It] takes me on a trip down memory lane, plus there are some good older fights of the generation before me, like Choppa [Shane Chapman], Jan [Antolik], and Tony [Angelov] that really get me in the mood for a good punch up.’’
Hailing from south Auckland is WKBF cruiser and super-cruiserweight champion, Pati ‘Arsenal’ Afoa.
Afoa also looks set to spend his Saturday preparing for war by being in relaxation mode.
‘’I just chill and hang with friends and family for good vibes.’’
The 36-year-old is aiming to come out on top in a potential rematch from last year’s eight-man with North Shore’s Jamie 'The Kyokushin Kid' Eades.
‘’I’m bringing full arsenal this time,’’ Afoa said. ‘’[I’ve had] good preparation [and I’m] ready mentally and physically, and I feel excited to fight a pretty awesome line-up.’’
Eades, a 26-year-old who originally hails from Wellington, is the current WKBF and WMC pro champion, and former amateur TBA super-cruiser and WKBF cruiserweight champion. He has a wealth of experience in tournament-style competitions thanks to karate.
Eades’ dream match would be with Adesanya in the final.
‘’Israel and I have fought twice before and have a win a piece both on split decisions. A rubber match in the final would be poetic.’’
He’s also keen to be pitted against Masterton 23-year-old Zane 'Hybrid' Hopman.
‘’Zane beat my brother a few years back and has a good record, including a gold medal at the world champs,’’ Eades said.
Hopman is revelling in the opportunity in being amongst the country’s best, and having the opportunity to show New Zealand’s fight fans what he has to offer.
‘’Whatever is placed in my path I will take head on.’’
Fight day preparation for him includes ‘’good music and good food…[and] lots of naps and stretching.’’
Hastings-based fighter Andrew 'Bulldog' Banham doesn’t have a particular routine on fight day.
‘’I like to spend some time visualizing the fight I want to have, but try not to focus on it too much either; just going out and doing something to take your mind off the fight for a bit can help because that day can go pretty slowly if you’re playing the waiting game,’’ the 38 year old former WMC cruiserweight, WKA NZ cruiserweight and WKA South Pacific light-heavyweight champion said.
‘’It’s hard to have a strategy going in when you don't know who you’re fighting, but if you try to conserve energy for later fights you may lose and it’s all for nothing, so you have to take 100 percent effort into every fight.’’
Current WMC North Island heavyweight champion, Pukekohe-based Zack 'Fearless' Fatamaka is taking a similar approach.
It the 27-year-old’s first eight-man tournament. His strategy is, ‘’fight 100 percent with no holding back’’.
His fight day routine is going to include ‘’lunch at home with my kids and partner’’.
The King in the Ring Eliminator Series will be held at ASB Stadium in Auckland this Saturday, August 30. Tickets can be purchased at www.iticket.co.nz.