Warriors Way returned to the Doncaster Shopping Town Hotel on Saturday night for its 19th edition with a strong line-up of local fights and a Team Australia vs Team New Zealand showcase. Team Australia was able to sweep the series on the night with four wins from four fights, including the successful return of local lightweight Liam McNeil.
Coming off a two and a half year layoff, highly touted Victorian lightweight Liam McNeil made his return to muay thai with an explosive performance against tough New Zealand fighter Dominic Reed. The clean, technical style of McNeil was clearly evident in the first two rounds as he landed a series of accurate knees in the clinch and was able to use his range to create a distinct advantage over Reed. Neither fighter was looking to take a backwards step and it was the New Zealander who opened round two with a ferocious onslaught of punches and elbows that left McNeil to defend himself in the corner absorbing the volume attacks. Knowing it would soon tire his opponent out, McNeil was able to compose himself and end round two with a dominant clinch display, again landing strong knees to Reed’s midsection.
Great action marked the opening of the third round as Reed was able to push forward on McNeil and both fighters took the opportunity to really open up with their elbow attacks. Focussing on his step-up knee strikes in the fourth round, McNeil was able to drop his opponent after countless shots to his ribs but was ultimately unable to put him away with Reed digging deep and rallying back as the round came to a close. The fifth and final round saw Reed land a series of clean punches, while McNeil continued to focus on his pin-point accurate knees. With the fight going to the judge’s scorecards, McNeil took the unanimous decision and the ‘Fighter of the Night’ award.
Strong, upcoming Melbourne fighter Elliot Glenister put on a show against New Zealander Shem Murdoch with an impressive display of clean boxing technique and movement that shows how much the young fighter continues to develop and grow between each fight. Looking incredibly composed, Glenister was able to land combination after combination and the result never really seemed in doubt as he ran away with a unanimous points decision.
In the night’s two other Team Australia vs Team New Zealand bouts, local favourite ‘The Filipino Flash’ River Daz beat the impressive Nikora-Lee Kingi via a unanimous decision in an incredibly well-matched bout where both fighters left it all in the ring and entertained those in attendance. ‘The Timorese Assasin’ Albert Xavier also returned to the winner’s circle by overcoming highly rated New Zealand prospect Chris Wells in what was a scrappy encounter between the two, with a split decision victory going the way of Xavier.
In the night’s main event Chris ‘The Butcher’ Harrington squared off against Ballarat fighter Brett ‘Tux’ McCluskey. While being two of the most successful Victorian fighters in the division over the past few years, neither had met each other in the ring until Saturday night.
Coming off a lengthy layoff following a TKO loss to American Anthony Njokauni in February at Lion Fight 34, Harrington looked tentative early on and it was McCluskey with the higher work rate out of the gate. Midway through the first round, McCluskey was able to capitalise on an opening and with a fast barrage of punches dropped Harrington for an eight-count. Unable to compose himself and recover quickly enough, McCluskey again pushed forward and opened up with another clean series of boxing combinations dropping Harrington once more. With an almost like-for-like combination, McCluskey was able to knock down Harrington for a third and final time, the fight ending via knockout.