City Kickboxing's Blood Diamond earned just a fraction under a thousand dollars a minute at the King in the Ring 72III last night, setting a new record for fastest knockout in the process.
The Zimbabwean-born Kiwi dispatched his first two opponents in 59 and 13 seconds respectively, going the distance just once against ETK's 'Electric' Edwin Samy in an explosive finale to a fantastic night of fights.
"I came to do my thing," said Diamond. "I was real focused and strong and ready for three hard battles. There was no way I was leaving the ring without that belt, that was my mindset."
The story of the night was Blood Diamond's brutal roundhouse kicks, racking up four knockdowns from three fights, with two knockouts.
"Funny enough I didn't practice the kicks, they just came natural," he said. "I was feeling very sharp and, like I said, focused, so the timing was there."
It was also a testament to the incredible toughness of Samy, who entered the final fight with over twenty minutes ring-time clocked up, having taken both Brook Sutton and Brook Haami to tough decision verdicts, one in an extension round against the latter.
New Zealand also went 3-1 in trans-Tasman superfights against game representatives of Sydney's two Bulldog Gym's, including two stoppage victories and a hard-fought unanimous decision.
Let's take a closer look at the fights.
King in the Ring Middleweight Tournament
Mike 'The Farmer' Fotheringham vs Josh 'Method Man' Marsters
Mike Fotheringham has a sick left hook and he used it to great effect. Marsters is incredibly tough, but he couldn't deal with The Farmer's crushing left and never really gave him any problems. It was a gutsy effort, but on wobbly legs with a badly bloodied nose, Marsters was saved from further damage by the referee in the second round and will go on to fight another day. Fotheringham escaped unscathed, but his presence was never required in the 8-man tournament.
Quarter Final One: Harley 'Lethal' Love vs Jake 'The Snake' Crane
The first fight of the tournament kicked off with a bang, and midway through the first round it looked like both fighters would be lucky to go three rounds let alone three fights. Love was the more aggressive of the two, pursuing Crane and throwing heavy shots to the body and winging overhand rights. Crane never looked to be in trouble though and found some success of his own in the limited clinch allowed by the K1-style rules. It was a punishing pace and a testament to the conditioning of both fighters that they were able to maintain it deep into the third round. In a closely competitive bout Love managed to do enough to eke a split decision from the judges and went on to the semi finals.
Quarter Final Two: Carlos 'Flying Fijian' Hicks vs Blood Diamond
Unfortunately for Carlos Hicks, Blood Diamond never allowed him a chance to get going; scoring two knockdowns within 40 seconds, both from whipping head kicks. Hicks made the count on both kicks however the referee had seen enough and called the fight. It was a disappointing exit for Hicks who has been in phenomenal form recently and looked to be in great shape. There's absolutely no shame in falling to a Blood Diamond head kick though, and Hicks certainly wasn't the only one to do so at the King in the Ring. Blood Diamond moved on to the semi finals without a scratch.
Quarter Final Three: Brook 'On the Button' Sutton vs Edwin 'Electric' Samy
The third quarter final of the night saw the tournament's most experienced competitor up against the least experienced. It became anything but a cakewalk for Samy, though, as Sutton utilised clean technique and superb defense to drag the fight into the later rounds. Samy was clearly the more explosive fighter and it began to show on Sutton's body as the undefeated South Islander's torso progressively reddened. It was a close fight but after three rounds Samy went through with a majority judges decision.
Quarter Final Four: Chris 'Cobra' Eades vs Brook 'VC' Haami
Chris Eades kicks really, really hard. Haami wore several brutal kicks to the midriff early in the first round and it looked like Eades was going to demonstrate a repeat of his victory over Mikaera Povey. It was not to be though, as Haami absorbed the shots and came back with some excellent boxing of his own over the next two rounds. Eades ate a hard spinning side kick late in the third and Haami took out a majority decision.
Semi Final One: Blood Diamond vs Harley 'Lethal' Love
Blood Diamond's rampage through the King in the Ring tournament continued in the first semi-final bout. An aggressive Love came out the gate with hard punching combinations, landing a cracking uppercut flush on Blood Diamond. It was all for naught, however, as Blood Diamond absorbed the short, pivoted out and cracked Love with a roundhouse off the lead leg just a fraction of a second later. Love crashed to the canvas, slightly held up by the ropes, and stiffened up with a vacant look in his eyes. In true Mark Hunt style, Blood Diamond walked away the minute the kick landed. In the post fight interview, Monty Beetham asked Blood if he had another win left in him. "I'm not going to say anything," he replied. "You've seen what I can do. What do you think?" The crowd's roar of approval was all the answer necessary.
Semi Final Two: Edwin 'Electric' Samy vs Brook 'VC' Haami
Samy's road to the finals again hit a rough patch in his bout with Brook 'VC' Haami, buoyed by his victory over Chris Eades. Once again there was a vast gulf in experience, and once again the underdog forced Samy to pull out all the stops to secure a win. It was a surprisingly competitive bout, and at the end of three rounds only one of the three ringside judges could pick a winner. The fourth round was similarly close and both fighters looked confident in their success. Considering the winner would have to fight a ludicrously fresh Blood Diamond, neither man looked ready to conceded defeat. In the end the experience of Samy proved too much and he went through to the final bout, albeit with some serious attrition.
King in the Ring 72III Tournament Final
Blood Diamond vs Edwin 'Electric' Samy
Draped in the flag of his native Zimbabwe, Blood Diamond danced his way to the ring for the final bout of the evening. He had the look of a man determined, and it seemed it would take a truck to put him down. But Edwin Samy is tough, and after more than twenty minutes ring time, he managed to give Blood Diamond his hardest test of the tournament. It was clear after the first kick buckled Samy's leg that he had sustained some significant damage in his previous two fights, but he was still far from a sitting duck. Even after Blood Diamond landed yet another spectacular head kick in the second round, Samy regained his feet for the eight count and charged forward with a hard right hand. It was too little too late however, and Blood danced it off with a trademark shoulder-shuffle. Heading into the third round Samy needed something special to even up the scorecards, but it was not to be and Blood Diamond cruised home with a relatively easy unanimous decision. Although it was far from Blood Diamond's previous two decapitations, it was a dominant performance nonetheless and as the bell rung he stood in center ring with his hands raised, looking every part the King in the Ring. According to Blood Diamond, it's just the beginning.
"Hopefully next is either a world title or Glory world series," he said. "The world needs to know NZ may be a small country but we can bang with the best of them."
As Blood Diamond collected his check for $10,000 amongst a downpour of silver and gold confetti, it was clear just why the King in the Ring is the number one promotion in New Zealand. For the second consecutive event, a rising superstar has exploded into the public eye. Not to mention the bravery of Sam Hill, head spraying blood like a shank from which he takes his fight name, coming back for a second round TKO in his trans-Tasman superfight. Or Pati Afoa, down on the scorecards with just 8 seconds to go in the final round, finding that last shred of energy and knocking his opponent out cold with a crunching right hand against the ropes.
To channel my inner Mike Schiavello, there was more heart on display than a cardiologists office, and that's what makes this sport so special.
Joey 'The Filipino Kid' Baylon (ETK) def Terry 'Turbo' Kounsavat (Bulldog Gym, Manly) via UD
Sam 'Tha Shank' Hill (SMAC) def Nathan 'Nasty Boy' Robson (Bulldog Gym, Castle Hill) via TKO RD2
Pati 'Arsenal' Afoa (ETK) def Simon 'Mayhem' Maait (Bulldog Gym, Castle Hill) via TKO RD4
Dan 'The Pain' Roberts (Bulldog Gym, Manly) def Paulo 'The Barbarian' Lakai (ETK) via KO Rd1