I said my good byes to my now ex wife and headed down from my apartment to grab a taxi and head to the airport.
As I sat back in the car I became a little excited as I’d never been to Hong Kong before and Asia has always fascinated me. There was also the added bonus that I would be fighting their champion for his title.
To be honest that was the main reason I was fighting as I’d already competed twice within the last 20 days and this would be my third fight in less than a month.
My eye still hadn’t healed properly from when I reopened it in the gym a few days earlier but I thought if I didn’t take the fight I’d regret it.
The airport could be seen in the distance, there was only one airport in Bangkok in 2004 which was Don Muang.
On the top of the building it had Bangkok International Airport in bright red neon lettering; I used to dread seeing this sign as it was the final leg of my holiday and meant I was heading home. This time I looked at it feeling nothing as I knew I’d be back in a couple of days.
The taxi pulled up outside the airport, I grabbed my luggage and handed the driver his fare of 170 Baht which at the time would have been around £2.50. From here I headed inside.
There was a team of us heading to Hong Kong of all different nationalities to take on their best.
The gym they were all coming from was called Rom Pho and at this time in my opinion had a poor reputation. They did have some very good Russian fighters such as Mohammed Magomedov, Arslan Magomedov, Dzhabar Askerov and Ramazan Ramazanov. All the focus was on these while everyone else fell to the waste side and just funded the gym and the owner…Pek.
As I entered the airport I saw Pek with a couple of his cronies and the rest of the fight team. There were two faces I recognised, one being Michael Paszowski a Scottish guy who now lives in Ireland and an Irish guy called Fintan Lawler. Also flying over was a Japanese guy who’s name escapes me, a French lad called Yohan, a Spanish guy called David and another big French guy who was just there to watch called Lidol. There was also one of the old Thai pad men of Rom Pho who was on the bill too.
There was a nice atmosphere during the flight with all of us getting to know each other. We were all having a laugh and a joke which is something I’d missed as I’d really been on my own for a vast majority of my time in Thailand. I missed the family atmosphere that we had in my gym back home.
We arrived safely to be met by the promotor and his minions. I didn’t know at the time but the promotor was called Billy Chow who was a famous movie star in Hong Kong; who apparently played the villain in a few of Jackie Chan’s movies.
He was a tall guy from what I remembered and very cheerful; he made an effort to speak to all of us as we headed to the cars which were taking us to the weigh in. I actually found this strange as the fight wasn’t for another two days but we were weighing in tonight. The first thing that came to mind was that my opponent would be huge by fight night.
The sun had set by the time we had landed in Hong Kong and I must say I found it breath taking seeing Hong Kong lit up by all the neon lights as we headed into the mainland.
The entourage of cars pulled up outside a restaurant; I remember the street being quite empty with only a few parked cars on the street. We all climbed out the cars and were asked to follow Billy into the restaurant.
We went up a couple of flights of stairs where we came to a huge dinning room. Now this was something like out of a Kung Fu movie; as we entered the whole room fell silent as they stared at us. There must have been around 20 large round tables with almost every seat taken.
At the far end of the room was a doorway where a smallish man appeared and waved us all over. As soon as we started to make our way over the whole room continued with what it was doing.
Beyond this doorway was where the weigh in was being held and where all our opponents were waiting.
It actually looked like were about to have a dance off with them as they were on one side of the room and us on the other.
Three of us didn’t make weight me being one of them, my fight was set at 54kg but I was 55kg. Billy asked me to weigh in again tomorrow but I didn’t like that idea too much so I said I’d weigh in again in 30 minutes.
We were told that we’d be taken to our hotel and they would come and re-weigh us in a couple of hours.
So me, Yohan and David stuck our sweat suits on and started to jog around the streets of Hong Kong. I only did three times round the block as I didn’t have a lot to lose while the others were slightly heavier.
All of the boxers were in Pek’s hotel room waiting for Billy to arrive and check our weight again. I was on weight but a couple of the lads were still heavy so Pek was trying to fiddle with the scales with little success.
He was trying to ram paper inside the electronic scales with a screwdriver. However, every time one of the lads jumped on the scales it still gave their accurate weight.
Billy arrived with some food for us all and to check on everyone’s progress. Burriram, who was one of the pad men at Rom Pho and former Rajadamnern champion stood behind David as he stepped onto the scales. Burriram knew David would be heavy and I was shocked at what he did next.
As Billy was concentrating on reading the scales Burriram grabbed the back of David’s pants and lifted him up slightly off the scales. “Ok” Burriram shouted as the scales read slightly under the agreed weight.
There was still one boxer to weigh in which was Mick’s opponent. His had been changed at the last minute, I forget what the reason was, but he was now fighting a Thai lad who teaches in Macau and would be arriving on the day of the fight.
So all we had to do now was wait until fight night which was a day away