An international kickboxing bout of the highest calibre will be on offer tomorrow night as regional powerhouse Brad ‘Quake’ Riddell (56-8-0) takes on Fernando ‘The Flash’ Groenhart (72-15-3) in the main event of Powerplay 36.
The bout, to be contested under K1 rules and over five rounds, gives Riddell a chance to get back in the winner’s circle after having dropped a controversial decision to Felix Carpintero in Spain last November.
The Auckland-based kickboxer, who is perhaps the top welterweight in the region, will go into tomorrow night’s fight looking to assert himself early on and show Groenhart the power he has available to him. Unlike many others who compete under international kickboxing rules (K1), Riddell is adept at using his knees effectively within the rule set and is sure to take full advantage of this throughout the fight.
Groenhart, a relative unknown in Australian circles, comes to Melbourne with a stellar record of close to 100 fights and the advantage of training with elite level fighters including his brother Murthel Groenhart who previously held the Glory Welterweight Title. Groenhart’s coach, Mike Passenier, has guided some of the most successful kickboxers in history including Badr Hari and Gohkan Saki (amongst others). To say he will be well-prepared going into tomorrow night’s bout is an understatement.
The night’s semi-main event features what will surely be a gripping rematch between Melbourne’s Moulay Bekkali (25-4-1) and New South Wales fighter Brendon McLean (21-12-0). In a five round match under K1 rules, the two will meet again after McLean took the win in their first bout seven years ago.
The fight, for the Australian International World Kickboxing Federation (IWKBF) title, is sure to be a tight affair with both fighters of similar age and with similar records. The defining difference, however, could be the size and power of Bekkali, who looks more like a natural middleweight than others who fight under 70kg.
Bekkali last entered the ring in July last year at Powerplay 34 where he comprehensively beat Sydney fighter Dimitri Illiev with a first-round TKO. McLean, who is no stranger to high-profile matchups on Powerplay cards, returns to the ring following a 3rd round TKO loss via doctors stoppage in September last year against Hugh O’Donnell.
Victorian kickboxing veteran Steve Baldacchino (24-7-1) is also set to feature tomorrow night when he returns to the ring after a nearly nine-month lay off when he takes on Queensland based, New Zealand born Tyson Faulkner (10-6-0).
Baldacchino’s last bout took place on the Alpha Fight Series 8-Man eliminator in May 2017 where he beat strong Western Australian fighter Barry Oliver, before losing to the eventual winner Samuel Bark in their semi-final matchup. Faulkner comes to the Melbourne Pavillion having last fought in July of 2017 beating Queenslander Ryan McDonald via TKO.
With a considerable fight gap between the two, it will be interesting to see whether Baldacchino is able to make use of his experience, or whether Faulkner’s youthful energy will be enough to capture the upset win.
Also on the undercard is a local matchup between the undefeated Jayden Wright (6-0-0) and Leon Charalambous (6-4-0). With the fight taking place under K1 rules, the real questions on the night will be if Charalambous is able to adapt to the rule set, given that his main focus is muay thai, and whether Wright is able to capitalise and secure his seventh-straight victory.