Steve McKinnon is now an 8-time world champion after last night beating Victorian Chris Bradford for the vacant International World Kickboxing Federation (IWKBF) Heavyweight title in the main event of Powerplay 37.
The victory marks the fourth win in a row for McKinnon since returning to the ring in 2017. The victory proved to many why McKinnon is still a major draw in the international muay thai and kickboxing scene, as he now prepares to make his debut for the new ONE Super Series later this year.
The five-round K1 rules fight marked the first bout for Bradford since October 2016, but at no stage did he look like he was suffering from any ring rust. Both fighters employed a frenetic pace from the opening bell with Bradford clearly searching for the knockout punch, while McKinnon would use his experience to slowly pick apart his opponent and edge away on the judge’s scorecards.
For every one punch that Bradford threw, McKinnon answered with three to four attacks of his own. Wary of the power in Bradford’s hands, McKinnon was often on the back foot throughout the fight but was able to use his counter-attacking skills to his benefit, working over the legs of Bradford as he pressured forward. A big right hand from Bradford in the third round seemed to wobble McKinnon slightly, but a follow up low kick resulted in a break for Bradford due to an accidental groin strike. With time given to both fighters for Bradford to recover, McKinnon was able to compose himself and continue to work away, racking up the points as the bout wound to a close.
With the showdown between the two hyped for months before the bout, there was a risk that it would not deliver, but by the end of the five rounds, it was evident that it had delivered and then some. What the fans saw was a tussle between two professional fighters that was action-packed from the first bell to the last. In the end, it was a clear unanimous points decision victory for McKinnon who called upon his vast big-fight experience and did what he had to do to get the result against a very dangerous fighter in Bradford.
The night’s semi-main event saw Victorian kickboxing veteran Steven Baldacchino square off against young talent Elliot Glenister in a five-round fight for the IWKBF Australian title. It was experience that was the major factor in this bout, with Baldacchino working hard constantly throughout the fight to pile up points on the judge’s scorecards and pull away with what was a decisive victory.
The potential knockout power of Glenister was a constant risk throughout the fight and Baldacchino did his best to employ an attacking strategy moving backwards while soaking up the occasional power shot from Glenister. The experience will go down for the young Glenister as ‘what could have been’ as he struggled to get out of first gear for much of the fight and show some of the dangerous power he has employed of late. With Baldacchino throwing three to four times more attacking shots than Glenister, it was an easy decision for the judges in the end. The victory shows that Baldacchino is in perhaps the best form of his long career and it will be interesting to see what challenge awaits him next.
Local favourite Aaron Goodson made a successful return to the ring, showing no loss of confidence following his knockout loss to New Zealander Alex Redhead back in July 2017. Coming in as a late replacement on three days notice, Jono Almond did his very best to provide Goodson with sound competition, but it was evident the lack of preparation would have an effect as Goodson continually pushed forward landing strong combinations on Almond.
A standing eight count late in the second round put Goodson further ahead on the judge’s scorecards as he continued to press forward on a gallant Almond who had little in the way of a response. The fight came to an end in the third round when Goodson landed a thunderous overhand right, sending Almond falling to the canvas, knocked out cold.
Undefeated Victorian champion Jayden ‘Wraith’ Wright continued on his winning ways with a comprehensive decision victory over the incredibly tough Tanner Gumatsas from Sydney. The bout was a constant slugfest between Wright and Gumatsas, with neither fighter wanting to take a backwards step.
The determination of Gumatsas kept him in the bout longer than most fighters, with Wright landing some powerful hand combinations continually across the three-round fight. This determination can sometimes come at the detriment of the fighter though, and this became evident in the third round as Wright continued to pour on what some would consider unnecessary damage.
A standing eight-count was put on Gumatsas by the referee, before Wright again moved forward, pressuring his opponent and looking for the knockout shot. Gumatsas was saved from further punishment as the bell sounded ending the fight, giving Wraith his eighth successive victory.
Fans were also treated to some high-quality muay thai on the night as veteran fighter Richard Fanous made his successful return to the ring after a two-year layoff. Opposite him was the fast-rising Sulaiman Hashemi who has been making a name for himself in the lightweight division since Fanous’ departure. Great technical skills were shown by both fighters during the bout with strong leg kicks and accurate punches the order of the night.
A textbook spinning elbow from Hashemi in the fourth round left Fanous with a small cut below his left eye, but not enough for the doctor to be concerned. With very little to separate both fighters, Fanous walked away with the decision victory, but it was nothing short of a great battle between two proficient fighters.
In the night’s opening bout undefeated local prospect, Marcus Burke continued on his winning ways with a dominant performance against tough Queenslander Torin O’Brien. With neither fighter seemingly too concerned about defence early on, it was at times a coin flip to see who would land the knockout blow first. In the end, it was Burke’s strong boxing that put him ahead on the judge’s scorecards and had it not been for the incredibly durable and resilient O’Brien, probably would have had the stoppage win earlier.