Local kickboxers showed they’re world class at an action-packed event in Ladysmith on the weekend.
Six of the eight bouts went to decision and every one of them was exciting at the World Kickboxing Network: Quest for the Title 7 card at Ladysmith’s Stz’uminus Community Centre on Saturday.
Victoria’s Gabriel Varga won the main-event fight against France’s Yohan Ha Van to capture the WKN world lightweight championship.
Local fighters had a great night. Chase Ingalls, who is from Campbell River but trains in Nanaimo, won the WKN’s amateur world middleweight championship against France’s Fabien Vichi. Nanoose Bay’s Josh Shepherd scored a knockout, downing Victoria’s Greg Lamothe in the second round; Nanaimo’s Dan Baxter scored a TKO over Victoria’s Bikram Gill in the second round and Nanaimo’s Cara Andre won a decision over Victoria’s Josee Boyd. Seth Laurie, who is from Duncan but trains in Nanaimo, won a decision over Victoria’s Justin Irvine in the first bout of the night.
The only local to be defeated was Nanaimo’s Ross Walker, who lost to Victoria’s Dan Laughey in a decision that could have gone either way.
The final bout saw France’s Amel Dehby win the WKN’s women’s amateur world bantamweight title with a decision over Victoria’s Tina Derix.
The event began inauspiciously with a long delay, but once it got going, the pace hardly ever slowed.
After Laurie’s win, the heavyweights Baxter and Gill squared off. At weigh-ins the day before, Gill had told Baxter he would knock him out in the first round. It rattled the Nanaimo fighter.
“I thought about it and I was like, you know what, that’s what I want, I want him to come in here and try and throw bombs, get tired,” said Baxter. “And that’s kind of what happened.”
The two big men traded bombs to start until Baxter took a hard shot over the top that reminded him to slow down and work the jab. He started to land the left hook, which opened up opportunities to land his right hand. In the second round he opened a cut under Gill’s eye and the bout was stopped, giving Baxter his first win as a fighter.
“It felt great, man,” said Baxter. “I trained my butt off for this one.”
The next bout was Andre against Boyd and the ladies put on a hugely entertaining match. Andre was the clear aggressor in her first-ever fight.
“I definitely had more of a competitive mindset,” Andre said. “I could see her wall breaking a couple times which I fed on and it gave me that edge.”
After Walker and Laughey also went to a decision, Shepherd made his kickboxing debut in fine fashion. The toughman boxing champ relied mostly on what he knew best, punching, and he rocked Lamothe in the first round, knocking him down and wobbling his legs, before ending it in the second round with another knockout blow.
The main event was next and it showcased a more methodical style as the two elite fighters felt each other out and looked for opportunities to attack. Varga, who was on the offensive for the entire bout, earned the decision and the championship belt. He said afterward it was a statement win.
“They said Canadians don’t train hard enough, we’re lazy, we can’t beat Europeans at the top level,” said Varga. “I proved them wrong tonight.”
The middleweight title bout was a convincing win for Ingalls, who dictated the tone early and never let his opponent get comfortable.
The night’s final matchup was chosen fight of the night for good reason, as the action never slowed. Dehby bloodied Derix in the first round and continued to deliver punches to the face the rest of the fight while deftly dodging return blows.
FIGHT FACTS … To read an interview with Cara Andre, please click here.