Muay Thai returned to the St Kilda Town Hall on Saturday night for the 14th edition of Rebellion Muay Thai. With 12 fights in total and only two ending via stoppage, the crowd was treated to a well-matched card with plenty of technical action.
The main event of the night featured a bout almost six years in the making with local Alexi Petroulias coming up against Rebellion Muay Thai regular Roy Wills from WA. With both having been nominated at the 2016 Australian Muay Thai Awards for ‘Most Technical Fighter’ of the year, the fight was sure to be a classic matchup and the crowd got a five-round battle that topped off what was a great night of muay thai for the purists.
As is often the way in a five-round muay thai fight between two professional fighters, the first round was used a feeling out period for both fighters as they assessed the range and power of their opponent. The second round started much the same as the first and neither fighter got out of second gear, with the slight advantage being given to Wills following a series of clean roundhouse kicks landed from range.
Petroulias started strong in the third round, pushing forward with clean punches and elbows, but it was Wills who continued to compile the points on the judges’ score cards as his footwork and range allowed him to stay on the outside of his opponent and land kick after kick. A round that was characterised by a constant back and forth of powerful kicks between each fighter saw the advantage go to Wills as he was able to defend and successfully counter most attacks, with the lead leg of Petroulias starting to show clear signs of damage. With Wills up on the scorecards going into the fifth Petroulias searched for the KO but was only greeted with the same ranged attack from Wills who went on to win via unanimous decision.
In the semi-main event, local favourite Johnny ‘Biscuits’ McKenna took on fast rising Sydney fighter Cameron Webb. Coming off a big year in which he won both the World Muay Thai Council (WMC) NSW Junior Middleweight Title and Up and Comer of the Year at the Australian Muay Thai Awards, Webb was looking to continue riding the wave of momentum against a determined McKenna who was keen to bounce back following his split decision loss to Chris Harrington last year for the Victorian WMC title.
The fight opened with both McKenna and Webb exchanging a series of clean kicks, with Webb the slightly more active of the two as the first round ended. Consistent pressure from Webb resulted in McKenna pressed up against the ropes in the second round as he looked to use his longer legs to try and keep his opponent at bay.
The third and fourth round is where Webb started to show why he is considered a rising star in the Australian muay thai scene with an intelligent defence and counter attack game that left McKenna frustrated and trailing his opponent on the score cards. While McKenna had the cleaner and more effective boxing exchanges of the two (low scoring in muay thai), it was Webb who was able to stay on the outside and land clean roundhouse kicks in constant succession.
Knowing he needed the knockout to win the fight, the fifth round saw a determined McKenna attempt to push forward on Webb opening with a barrage of punches and elbows that ultimately landed on Webb’s very strong guard. Webb kept his composure showing impressive footwork and range to continue scoring with his kicks, the fight ending with a unanimous decision win in his favour.
The third-last fight of the night saw a rematch from last year with Muay Thai Australian (MTA) Victorian Champion Alex Ilijoski taking on the impressive Benny Mahoney from John Wayne Parr’s Boonchu gym in Queensland. With the first fight between the two resulting in a somewhat controversial win to Mahoney, both fighters were out to either solidify or correct the last decision. Two very close rounds opened the bout with Mahoney starting off the more active of the two landing shots evenly spread across the body, while Ilijoski’s focus was on his strong clinch game, helping him score some very effective knees across the two rounds.
A late knee from Ilijoski in the third round resulted in a point deduction from the referee as Mahoney used the round to focus on his kicks and constant punches to the body. The fourth and fifth round, while close, began to open up for Ilijoski as his vice-like lock in the clinch proved to be the deciding factor. As he moved forward with his attacks, Mahoney was on the back foot and often found himself in the corner defending. The action went right up until the bell and in the end, it was Ilijoski’s knees that gave him the victory on the night.
Earlier in the day the in the main event of Roots 2, Rebellion’s novice fight show, Sydney fighter Jesse March was able to get the best of local fighter Elliott Glenister scoring a majority points decision over five rounds. The fight was a close, competitive bout between the two and the 11-fight gap on paper seemed to deter Glenister very little as he pushed the pace constantly during the early rounds. It was March however that edged away on the judges’ score cards by landing the higher volume and higher scoring attacks on his opponent.
Announced on the night, Rebellion will be returning to the St Kilda Town Hall in May for Rebellion Muay Thai 15 with the third edition of Roots taking place during the day.