Contenders Norwich 19 preview: Everything you need to know
- Credit: Jerry Daws/ Contenders Ltd
One of the region's biggest combat sports shows is back this weekend, as Contenders 19 packs out the Norfolk Showground. MARK HEATH brings you everything you need to know.
Contenders 19 looks set to continue the promotion's run of putting on exciting, well matched fights in a great venue with a loud and enthusiastic crowd - but this event has a twist..
WHEN AND WHERE
Contenders Norwich 19 will take place at the Norfolk Showground on Saturday, June 3. The first fight is set for 6.40pm, with the main event expected around 10.30pm. There are 16 fights on the card. Tickets are available at www.contendersea.com.
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WHAT'S THE TWIST?
Contenders usually promotes a mixture of mixed martial arts, K1 kickboxing and boxing bouts, but this event is a K1 and boxing special. Instead of the usual cage, fighters will go to war inside a 21-foot championship-sized boxing ring. For fans of stand-up fighting, this will be a feast.
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TITLES ON THE LINE?
Four of the 16 fights on the night are title fights. Ben Sell defends his K1 youth 61kg strap against Jack Purdy, while Piotr Panczak defends his 77kg belt against David Balogh. The top two fights are also for belts, in this case both currently vacant - Tia Sayer fights Stevi-Ann Levy for the 61kg boxing title, while Corrin Eaton and Modestas Andrijauskas meet for the 66kg K1 crown.
This should be a fascinating fight. Ipswich's Corrin Eaton is an MMA fighter by trade, and is one of the best in the country, racking up a fine 9-2 1NC record. But this is his first K1 fight, in which half of his usual arsenal - takedowns, grappling and jiu-jitsu - won't be allowed. How will he fare in a purely stand-up fight, wearing 10oz gloves rather than the usual 4oz MMA ones? His opponent, Modestas Andrijauskas, who fights out of Team Nogueira in Great Yarmouth, is tall and rangy, with excellent combinations and several tricks up his sleeve. Could be a cracker.
Stevi-Ann Levy, known for her 'superman' shorts and crisp, technical boxing, faces decorated kickboxer Tia Sayer for the 61kg title. Levy looked sensational on her way to a second round TKO at Contenders 18 - albeit against a very limited foe - but how will she cope when heavy leather starts flying back her way? And will Sayer thrive in a fight where she can't kick? We'll find out on Saturday!
Ben Sell is a fighter I really rate highly. He chains combinations together with ease and has a lot of power for his lanky frame. In Jack Purdy however, he faces a very real test if he intends to keep his belt. That is a fight of the night candidate for me.
I've also heard a lot of good things about Jakob Doman, who faces Tomas Siaucila in a 95kg clash of the big boys.
77kg champ Pior Panczak has been looking better with each fight, very tight and technical, and I'm fascinated to see how long he can hold his title for.
Look out, too, for Evan Hubbard Norman, whom I'm told is a star in the making. And Ipswich's Dennis Turner, a real kickboxing pioneer on the Norwich scene of the 90's, competes in his 'retirement fight', a 95kg boxing clash with Shaun Williams.
SUFFOLK V NORFOLK
There's always a bit of extra spice about match-ups that pit the rival counties against each other, and Contenders 19 has several.
Fran Clarke, from Unit 1 Gym in Bury St Edmunds, makes her K1 debut against Cromer's Beth Boland, while Ipswich's Purdy faces Norfolk lad Sell in their title fight. And the main event also pits Suffolk against Norfolk, as if Eaton versus Andrijauskas needed any extra selling!
HOW DO I WATCH IT?
Well, if you can't make it to the Showground, there will be a live stream of the action on YouTube, starting at 6.30pm on Saturday.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS?
While Contenders is the highlight of the combat sports calendar in the region this weekend, also keep an eye on Colchester's Sean Carter, who fights on Cage Warriors 84 at the Indigo at the O2 on Friday night.
'Sexy Curls' Carter, who fights out of the regional powerhouse BKK Fighters team, battles Steve 'The Spartan' O'Keeffe at lightweight.
Carter (12-4) fights under the Cage Warriors banner for the first time since November 2015. He's pretty much always in exciting fights, so look out for him!