Quite recently I reshared the very excellent highlight from Muay Thai Scholar of my bout with Tawatchai Budsadee of Thailand. This fight is one of my most talked about fights, the reason for this is down to the controversial ending that took place.
Many have asked what caused the controversy so here is the full story.
I was sitting with my trainer Steve Logan at Star Hall in Hong Kong rehearsing for the I-1 events opening ceremony. The I-1 is probably Hong Kong’s premier Muay Thai event which hosts an eight man tournament to crown the I-1 champion. I was on the bill in a super fight to take on their local star Brian To (I’ll go over this in more detail in another blog).
I was watching the dancers practising in the ring when Steve received a text message. He turned to me after reading it and said “Do you fancy fighting a Thai guy on the Rumble at the Reebok event?” “Erm…..yeah go on then, who is he.?” I responded.
“I dunno, he’s been in the UK teaching at Daz Morris’s gym for a bit. He’s supposed to be good. I’ll let them know you’re interested.”
It was only four weeks away and I still had to get this fight out the way, but that didn’t really bother me.
Now, the fight in Hong Kong I’m positive I won but they gave the decision to the home guy. As I left the ring a huge number of the Chinese crowd came up to say they thought I’d won and all the fighters who were in the tournament said the same. Even the promotor at the after party meal said he thought I should have got the nod but couldn’t say anything because he was Chinese; as was my opponent. Oh well! the experiences I’ve had in Hong Kong are some of my favourites in my fight career and I know these things happen at times.
Once back in the UK my training continued as best I could because I’d actually cracked the right side of my rib during the bout in Hong Kong.
All I could do was pads and bag work. Sparring/clinching was out of the question, but I’ve trained and fought with worse injuries so i tried to adapt as best I could. You can read about some of my other fight injuries here.
Just a couple of weeks before the Reebok event I was at another show with a fighter when a stocky gentleman walked up to me with his hand held out. “alright Damien I’m Daz Morris.”
It took a while for me to connect the dots but then I realised he was the promotor of the Rumble at the reebok.
“You all ready for the fight?” He said
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it….he’s supposed to be good isn’t he?” I asked
“Yep!” Daz respond with an expression on his face to say I don’t have a cat in hells chance of winning.
“He’s real good, he’s had over 500 fights. I obviously don’t want our British lads to get beaten but I had to put him on the show.” Daz said in a concerned voice.
I wasn’t quite sure on how to take what he’d said. I was a little offended but at the same time it encouraged me to prove him wrong.
We talked a little more about how his show was looking and what other matches were on before saying our goodbyes.
The fight was set at 55kg and after the weigh in I went to get some food and grab a good nights sleep at the Bolton Whites hotel, situated in the Reebok stadium.
We had some amateur fighters competing on the same day as the weigh in so I had no company during my stay at the hotel. The morning came and I got up to grab some breakfast.
After I ate and answered a few of my messages I headed over to the function room where the event was being held.
The room was already prepared for the afternoons show. There were two walkways heading towards the ring coming from either side of the room.
Olly Watson from Minotaurs gym was fighting on the same bill; Olly was a very exciting fighter to watch in my opinion I think it’s a shame he no longer competes.
Both Olly and his corner team were looking around the venue so I chilled with them for a while until my own corner team arrived.
It wasn’t long before Adam, Gaz and Steve turned up along with the first few spectators.
Above the main room was a second floor which over looked the ring. This is where my changing area was.
My fight was put in to the middle of the event similar to how the main event is in Thailand. I was really pleased that it was so early on as I hate waiting around.
The floor below filled up very quickly with everyone grabbing their seats, you could feel the excitement in the room as this was probably the biggest show for a long time.
Daz Morris was extremely excited about the fireworks display planned for the opening ceremony, apparently they cost £5000.
I was getting my hands wrapped when the display started: BOOOOM!
I sh@t my pants! i’d never heard a bang that loud in my life. There was smoke everywhere from the display and for some time no one could see anything.
Eventually the smoke cleared and the show got underway.
I watched a few of the fights from the balcony before I had to start getting ready.
My Hands wrapped, massaged, stretched off and gloved up, I was ready to go. I lay down for a bit to get my thoughts together.
As I put my head down I felt my rib twinge, all I thought was that I have to make sure that no clean shot lands on that side.
I was called down to wait by the runway as I was up next.
My heart was pounding as all the worse case scenarios were flying through my head, what if he does this? what if he does that? would my rib be ok?
While I was fighting with my inner demons the MC started to announce the next fight.
There was a doorway runway which had paper covering it, what’s meant to happen is when your name is called the spot light shines on to your doorway creating a shadow, then the paper goes up in flames and you walk out.
The MC had started to real off my statistics, but there was no spotlight shining in my direction. I could hear the crowd cheering and whistling frantically but I couldn’t figure out what was going on as my paper hadn’t gone up in flames.
What had actually happened was as they called my name the spotlight shone on to Tawatchai and as he’s a bit of a character he started dancing insanely.
My supporters who had come to watch me were shocked because I’m a bit of a reserved person and they didn’t expect me to be flashing some dance moves prior to the bout.
Tawatchai danced to the cheers of the crowd all the way to ring. The MC apologised for the mishap and gave Tawatchai’s statistics, when he announced how many fights he’d had there was a loud gasp around the Reebok stadium.
Now it was my turn. My name was announced and the spot light shone in my direction, there was no dancing from me! I stood with my fists on my hips and shadow boxed a little while my stats were re-read. The flames shot across the walkway entrance and out I stood.
Smoke filled the walkway as I walked to the ring, I could barley see a thing, I had visions of me falling off the edge but luckily I made it to the ring apron.
The lights were red hot as I stood in the ring awaiting for the Ram Muay music to start. The high screech of the music started to play. Now it was time to clear my head and focus on the dance that I had preformed many many times before battle.
My dance is very short and sweet but Tawatchai’s was ridiculously long. It must have gone on for about 10 minutes, I was actually leaning on the ropes head in hand while I was waiting.
Eventually he was finished and it was fight time.
He walked over to the centre of the ring with a huge grin on his face and without a care in the world.
Once the instructions were given we waited for the bell to signal round one.
Part two I will go over the fight and the ins and outs of the controversial ending.