Epic Fights Outline Evening
by Sandy Hackenmueller
The Skylight Modern welcomed another action-packed evening as Friday Night Fights returned for another great night of Muay Thai. From amateur debuts to hard-fought title fights, the event was wall to wall palpable energy.
The World Boxing Council was a special guest in this WKA-sanctioned event, as two WBC titles were on the line in the headline bouts. Four of Muay Thai’s most prolific fighters brought the crowd to their feet as sharp kicks and big elbows defined the night. Brett Hlavacek vs Elijah Clarke, and Joe Sampieri vs Justin Greskiewicz demonstrated what passion and love of the sport looks like at high stakes.
Starting the evening off were solid amateur bouts that included debuts. The first fight of the evening was called in round three by technical knockout, but a majority of the early fights were so well matched that they went the distance.
Mid-way through the evening the stage was taken by two creative and unorthodox fighters – NJ Mac vs Shaquan Moore. A variety of style was demonstrated as the two threw axe kicks, side kicks, and varied their stances. Mac walked away with the unanimous win after three rounds of non-traditional style, sharp and crisp leg kicks, and big elbows in this junior middleweight fight.
As the evening drew closer to its grand finale, another title belt was on the line. This time it was a female bout for the vacant WKA amateur lightweight title, featuring Jenel Stevens and Nicole Scimeme. There was big action in this battle as Stevens came out strong, looking to establish dominance, using her long reach for jabs and crosses. Scimeme, the more experienced and technical fighter, responded with effective combinations, looking for a finish near the end. However, Stevens earned the belt in a split decision win.
The big draw of the night was the battle for two WBC title belts. Sampieri and Greskiewicz went toe-to-toe in an effort to earn the US Welterweight Title. The fight started out with two calm and calculating fighters, each looking for their advantage. Sampieri demonstrated beautiful boxing and the deft ability to jump over Greskiewicz leg kicks. However Greskiewicz was able to land a few that knocked Sampieri to the ground.
In round 3, Greskiewicz focused hard on setting up his shots. Once he found his opening, he dove right in. He stayed on top of Sampieri and was able to knock him out with a huge uppercut in 1:25 seconds of the round. He maintained his title.
The second WBC belt up for grabs was the Super Middleweight title. Hlavacek was the current title belt holder and Clarke was determined to take it away. Clarke also had his undefeated professional record on the line. As the bout was about to start and the ref was giving out final instructions, great sportsmanship was demonstrated as each fighter’s corner stood by his fighter, and encircled the opponent’s corner with his arms, as well as his fighter.
Clarke is well known as a fighter with strong, accurate and effective kicks. He used these to his advantage, leaving large welts and bruising where the kicks landed. However, Hlavacek is well known for effectively catching kicks, and did so several times, then dumped Clarke on the ground. His fight arsenal included good head movement, checked kicks, and several well-timed spinning elbows as he defended against what the commentators called “a one man pack of wolves” in Clarke. Hlavacek retained his belt via unanimous decision.
The evening concluded with fans on their feet, screams and cheers in the crowd, and a lot of celebrating, as these fighters left it all in the ring, win or lose.