Summer Slugfest VIII took place Friday, Aug. 24 at Western Speedway, featuring nine fights, three mixed martial arts and six kickboxing, capped with a thrilling world title match.
The main event saw Victoria’s Greg “smooth operator” Lamothe (12-6) take on Jeremy Henry of Detroit (10-0), for the International Kickboxing Federation world welterweight title.
From the opening bell of the five-round fight, Henry ran at Lamothe fast and hard and threw relentless punches; there was no tactic other than to move forward and no combinations were thrown, it was just a good old fashioned attack. It was an impressive display of speed and power from Henry but everyone in attendance including Lamothe questioned whether he could keep up the pace.
The second round started the same way the first round did – a relentless pursuit that lacked defence. Lamothe took his time trying to figure out the motive and late in the second round began to land high kicks and a few punches. Both fighters showed a little blood.
“I was questioning whether he could keep up the pace,” said Lamothe. “I knew that I would have to give up that first round, to wait him out. The second round looked the same, but a little bit of the edge was taken off and he was beginning to breathe heavier. It was tough; he did catch me at one point where I took a standing eight count.”
At the start of the third round, Lamothe took a couple of punches to the chin and landed to the canvas earning that standing eight count. Henry continued on his torrent and caught a devastating left hand to the face followed by a right and a clinch that spewed more blood – he was not to be deterred, however, Lamothe opened a cut over Henry’s left that was bleeding heavily.
During the fourth round, Henry was still throwing hard punches but appeared to have spent his gas during the first three rounds. Lamothe was beginning to fight out of the corners and off the ropes and land more punches. Both fighters were putting it all out there.
The fifth round was clearly Lamothe’s. He landed several straight jabs, right hands and a few kicks to the head from his more tactical perspective; the waiting paid off, Henry had emptied his cardio-vascular bank account before the rent was due.
By the time the final bell rang, Henry was wobbly with fatigue and Lamothe was bouncing on his toes.
After five rounds the judges gave a unanimous decision to Lamothe for his first world title – he entered the ring as the North American champion.
“I took one look at the way he was built and his strong legs and thought he was going to come out kicking, but he came out punching. I knew I would have to wait out his aggressive style.”
Asked about his superior fitness Lamothe said, “I always try to prepare for more than I am scheduled to fight. So I was training for a 10-round bout.”
Lamothe will now turn pro.
“I am okay with the decision, he was a tough opponent, it was a good fight,” said Henry.
Victoria’s Alex Tribe (10-4) took on Airdrie, Alberta’s Austin Rodrique (7-2). The fight ended with a bit of controversy.
Tribe kept Rodrique busy covering up with the threat of a hard straight right hand, in turn, Rodrique kept range with a long jab. The two were throwing the right round kick low and hard.
Tribe took a knee to the upper body and was felled. The stoppage earned him a standing eight count, however, Coach Stan Peterec was adamant that Rodrique pulled Tribe’s head down and hit him with the knee – an illegal move. If it happened, then the fight should have ended in a no-contest judgment, however, Rodrique was given the win after the first round.
“I waited him out. He is a more seasoned fighter,” said Rodrique. “I was surprised it ended that early, but I heard my coach yell “knee”, so I went knee and that ended the fight. I am very pleased with the result.”
Calgary’s Oscar Dakiti (3-2) battled Landon Larson (5-1). Larson won, but his opponent refused to go down.
The first round was even with Larson being the aggressor. He had two flurries that Dakiti had no answer for.
The second round was close and may have gone to Dakiti, who was throwing his knees repeatedly, off Larson’s KO-hunting right hands.
During the third round the fighters, with their increased grappling, were tiring but both threw knockout-attempting hands, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. In the end, Larson took the win to move his record to 6-1.
“It was a good fight, he was a tough opponent,” said Dakiti.
“The first round is always the scariest,” shared Larson. “Everyone is the most hesitant. I was just trying to figure him out. I thought he was going to come up with more kicks, but he had more of a boxing stance. I just listened to my corner. They were saying keep the distance and don’t box with him, kickbox with him, so I did. Always listen to your corner.”
The first fight featured Vancouver’s Renee Fung and Victoria’s Michiyo Shew, fighting out of Peterec’s Martial Arts.
Fung took the first round, by landing a few extra jabs and had a little extra authority with her right kick. The second round was similar to the first, however, Fung fought with a little more aggression. Neither kickboxer was landing powerful shots.
Round three saw both fighters turn up the heat. Fung landed a few extra right hands and two right kicks to the head area. Shew kept to her game and got off tactical kicks and punches. It was a close fight, but the decision would go to Shew for the win as she moves to 1-1, while it was Fung’s debut.
Mixed Martial Arts
The first mixed martial arts fight of the night featured Andrew Mavridis of Lloydminster, Sask and Powell River’s Nelson Spreevw.
Mavridis was the superior boxer and took advantage, opening up Spreevw, who showed resilience. He was covered in blood early – he took approximately 15 clean shots to the face, uppercuts, right hooks and left jabs.
Spreevw grabbed Mavridis with an Imanari roll and was nearly successful in saving his fight, the first time, however, Mavridis was ready for the second roll and Spreevw paid for it – the fight was called as a TKO after one full round.
Powell River’s Raphael Ouellet took on Amrite Sekon of Victoria. They both sport a record of 1-1 in MMA
The first round consisted of Sekon holding Ouellet in a full guard for most of the three minutes.
The grappling continued throughout the three rounds, however, Ouellet won by a physical tapout by armbar.
Campbell River’s Jordan Howes (3-2) representing the Heart and Soul Muay Thai Club entered the ring to take on Jason Szakel (4-4) with Peterec’s Kickboxing Club.
The first round was even in terms of blows thrown, however, it appeared that Howes suffered a back injury and at one point dropped to the canvas.
During the second round, Howes threw a spinning back punch that felled Szakel and earned him a standing eight count from referee Mark Pennington. Howes threw a few more straight rights, hard jabs and connected three more times. The knockout appeared to be just a punch away as the round ended.
The two combatants tried in earnest to throw the knockout punch during the third round. Szakel came back with a good flurry of connecting shots midway through the round and that was apparently enough to win him the decision.
Ethan McKenna (0-0) from Langford and James McLeod (0-2) fought the third MMA fight of the evening.
The fight lasted half the round as McLeod threw a relentless set of punches to McKenna’s head who could only cover up in defence; it was enough for the ref, who called the fight.
Lloydminster’s David Callbeck (3-0) took on Victoria’s Paul Kru (2-1). Kru was also relentless from the bell and Callbeck had no answer, but he didn’t seem to be fazed from the barrage of right leg kicks and non-stop punches, in their kickboxing match.
Mark Pennington called the fight at 1:12 of the second round.
At the end of the evening, Lamothe could be seen with a few hundred people around him, some were out of town relatives celebrating others were club mates from his Martial Arts Unlimited. His daughter was very excited that her father was now a world champion kickboxer.
Ring announcer Ken “Hurricane” Himes asked who he would like to recognize, Lamothe said into the public address system microphone, “It starts with my family, first, I could not do this without their support.” His wife was also standing with him in the ring and a few dozen distant relatives and friends were celebrating noisily in the crowd.
Asked what comes next he said, “Whatever I do next will involve me being a professional.”