Kickboxing returns to the Springers Leisure Centre in Melbourne tomorrow night for a $10,000 winners-takes-all 70kg tournament featuring some of the best fighters in both Australia and New Zealand.
Originally slated to be an 8-man tournament before injuries took their toll on the event, the resulting 4-man lineup is still an exciting prospect with four big names looking to stake their claim to the title and prize pool up for grabs.
The first entrant is Rhyse Saliba from Sydney who has traditionally focused on muay thai as his preferred ruleset before making a switch into professional boxing last year with three fights for two wins. A holder of multiple titles across various organisations, Saliba comes to Melbourne following a unanimous points decision loss to Louis Regis in March on Siam 2 Sydney. The unknown on the night for Saliba will be how he is able to deal with the K1 ruleset, but given his recent focus on boxing, could be in a good position to press the action with his hands.
One of two Auckland-based fighters participating in the tournament tomorrow night is Harley Love who trains out of the City Lee Gar gym under renowned trainer Phillip Lam and alongside regional powerhouse Brad Riddell. Love is coming off an impressive performance on the We Lin Feng (WLF) NZ vs China show last month where he was able to get the win against Chinese fighter Zhong Weipeng. Another fighter in the tournament who has recently dipped their toe into professional boxing, Love had a majority points decision loss in July to number one ranked Middleweight in New Zealand, Reuben Webster.
The second fighter making the journey over from Auckland is Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Tambo who comes into the event with a 2014 victory against Love where he was able to land a head kick knockout in the first round of their King in the Ring semi-final bout. Whether or not he will be able to replicate that performance again if the two are to meet on Saturday night remains to be seen, but Tambo travels to Melbourne with good tournament experience and a hunger for the big fights.
Training alongside some of New Zealand’s best such as Kai Kara France, Israel Adesanya and UFC fighter Dan Hooker, Tambo will most certainly be using this tournament as an opportunity to catapult him back into contention with big names promotions after his 2016 loss to American Richard Abraham on Glory 34.
Coming in as a last-minute replacement will be Sydney-based Thai fighter Singpayak, who will be potentially giving away considerable weight for the opportunity to take home the large prize pool. Weight and lack of preparation aside and given his extensive fight history, Singpayak could be a dark horse to take home the tournament. He makes a quick return to the ring having only fought two weeks ago where he beat Jonathan Tuhu via a unanimous points decision.
The night’s semi-main event features local favourite Ramesh ‘Headhunter’ Habib in a rematch with Auckland based Joey ‘The Filipino Kid’ Baylon. The pair last fought on Powerplay 27 back in 2015 when Habib was able to get the TKO win over Baylon in an entertaining contest between the two.
Habib is fresh off a win in August on Rebellion 16 where he beat Canberra-based Lee Fook via unanimous decision, while Baylon is making his return to the ring after a 6-month lay-off. Since their encounter in 2015, both fighters have gone on to build an impressive fight resume, taking on some of the best both countries have to offer. While their physical attributes couldn’t be any more different, both have the big fight experience to push each other and it should prove to be an exciting bout to lead into the main event.
70kg Tournament Participants: