The last stint of my Thailand life was very hard financially and I was having to take fights just make ends meet . Competing without the right preparation could have easily finished most peoples love for the sport, however I was determined to get back on track.
I’d already had one win under my belt after landing back on home soil and just a few months later was matched to fight against French star Albert Veera Chey.
The match was arranged six weeks prior to the fight date so I thought this would give me some time to find some info on him. Alas there wasn’t much on the net and what I could find was all in French.
The show was being promoted by Keith ‘Pele’ Nathan. Pele came from the same stable and time as Ronnie Green which would have been Master Toddy’s gym. He too has produced many champions over the years such as Ashely Guishard, Frankie Hudders, Mary Hart, Tricia Mckeary and Moris and David Reilly.
I arrived at Pele’s gym in Manchester for the weigh in to see Rodrigo Alamos and Albert Chey standing near the scales waiting for me.
Rodrigo Alamos is Chey’s trainer and uncle to Damien Alamos who in my opinion is one of the best none Thai fighters out there at the moment; he is the only western fighter other than Mourad Sari to claim the Lumpinee title.
Rodrigo had a navy blue, skin tight polo neck jumper on; not sure why but I thought how very French he looked. He also had a very stern face when I arrived and never cracked a smile once the whole time we were having our weight checked.
Chey came in bang on 55.5kg I came in at 55.7kg, I didn’t think there would have been a problem but Rodrigo was having none of it and said I had to lose it.
Luckily Pele has a small sauna in his gym so 15 minutes later I was back and on weight.
I didn’t stay in manchester that night I decided to go home and sleep in my own bed as it was only about an hour thirty minute drive home.
The following afternoon I met everyone outside the K-Star gym so we could all make our way to the venue together. In all there was me, the Copestake twins and another lad called Soma Kumar fighting plus the 50 odd supporters who coming with us.
Once we arrived at the venue I went and found my changing room, saw the doctor for my medical and had my hands wrapped. After getting massaged and warmed up I was just hanging around waiting for my turn to step into the ring.
All the other lads won their bouts so the pressure was on me to do the same. Chey entered the ring first and as my name was announced i heard a great cheer from all the UK support.
Chey was stood across the ring looking very relaxed, I know he was French but I was pretty sure that he was of Thai descent too.
His Ram Muay was very graceful, mine is very short and sweet so it gave me a bit of time to appreciate his.
The bell was about to ring for round one and all the nerves that I had felt had gone, I was in that numbness stage.
Chey’s movement was just like his dance graceful and precise, he moved similar to the Thais that I had been competing against in Thailand.
I remember being very close to him when WHACK!! A front kick landed straight into my face; it struck my nose and my left eye.
All of a sudden I couldn’t breath out of my nose and the vision in my left eye had become blurred. It felt like I was being continuously pocked in the eye. I kept rubbing my eye hoping to clear my vision with little success.
Chey was happily just picking me off while I was having to deal with these obstacles; I felt like I was battling with two opponents.
I went back to the corner after round one still being unable to see and breathe properly. Steve asked me what’s wrong with my eye as he’d noticed I kept rubbing it during the fight.
I explained that it felt like there was something in it, I physically took the towel myself rubbing my eye hoping I would be able to dislodge what ever it was that was in there.
The start of round two was pretty much the same but as Chey was a very intelligent fighter and me being hindered a bit I thought I would try and change how the fight was being fought.
Chey was having it all his way at that moment so I decided to take him into the trenches a bit and rough him up.
I started letting off some heavy bombs towards Chey’s body in a hope they would start to slow him down.
I noticed that Chey’s arms were getting lower as the round went on. I can only guess that my punches were starting to take effect.
Those that know me know I love body punches, this is mainly due to the effect that they have on people.
If you take a dig to the head it could make you a little dazed but after a while you can generally shake it off, also being hit the head in the ring doesn’t hurt so all you have to think about is clearing your head. However, you get winded and it feels like you are dying, you’re gasping for air, worried so much about getting hit again to the body that you can barely fight back. Even once you have recovered the slightest tap to body can bring it all back again. As the saying goes “attack the body and the head will die”.
My vision seemed a little clearer going into the third and with Chey still slightly ahead on the score cards I needed to turn it round.
Again I concentrated on Chey’s body digging away as the round went on. About mid way through the round I thought the time was right to go high as he was so concerned about his body. I threw a jab followed by a huge left hook as Chey threw a left kick, but it fell short as his kick sunk into my ribs.
I thought to myself ‘I’m going to get him’, I told myself this time it will land. I looked low as if I was going to attack his rib cage again and BAM! my trusted left hook found its mark as I went high instead. Chey’s legs buckled really badly I thought ‘quick finish him’! almost instantly a second hook was thrown but this time I sent Chey to the canvas.
Tony Myers started the count when Chey tried to stand up only to collapse again in the neutral corner. He managed to get up before the count of eight and Tony asked him to take a step forward just to check he was ok; on unsteady legs he wobbled forward.
Tony waved it off as Chey was clearly unable to continue safely.
I was so pleased I ran up and jumped onto the ropes in the corner and screamed over to my supporters followed by giving Steve and my corner team a hug.
I’d never been picked off by anyone the way Chey had with me, even to this day so to come through that with my eye sight and breathing hindered really made that victory even more special for me.
Rodrigo was not happy at all with this outcome but you can’t blame him really. I spoke a little Thai to Chey as that is the nationality I thought he was and he responded fine so was able to have a little conversation with him. However, I later found out that he was of Cambodian descent….oh well.
I found out afterwards that I had actually scratched the lens of my left eye pretty bad. I could not see out of it for two days after and literally just lay on my sofa with both my eyes closed. Luckily for me your eyes are one of the quickest parts of your body to heal and I had the tv to listen to until then.
Injuries can be a real hindrance while competing and training but some of the prices you have to pay for fighting are more than worth it when you win.
You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the video below as this is the only footage I have of it….enjoy.