Melton Thai boxer Iman Barlow marks 100th pro fights with fifth Enfusion world title defence

Iman Barlow with coach and dad Mark and brother Thai EMN-170726-084611002
Iman Barlow with coach and dad Mark and brother Thai EMN-170726-084611002
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Superstar Thai boxer Iman Barlow had to battle illness, fatigue and a tough opponent, but still marked her 100th professional fight with another world title defence.

The Melton fighter overcame home favourite Ashley Nichols in Canada to defend her Enfusion world title for a staggering fifth time – a fitting landmark for her milestone bout.

No other Thai boxer has defended an Enfusion world title more than twice, and having won the belt in London back in 2013, Iman has since seen off challengers in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Mallorca, Ireland, and now Canada.

And unfortunately for her rivals, she has no plans on relinquishing it for the time being.

“I can keep hold of it until I retire – at least that’s the plan,” she said.

“I have defended it all around the world, and as a woman, to be ahead of all the male fighters as well is really good.”

But it was not all plain sailing for the 24-year-old, as a stomach bug picked up in the days before the fight badly hampered her preparation.

Having gone out to Canada a week early to adjust to the time difference, she was ill for four days which left her battling fatigue.

“I was throwing up a lot and couldn’t keep any food down,” she added.

“I missed training one day and slept right through from three in the afternoon until eight the next day.

“By Thursday and Friday I was feeling a little better and obviously while I wasn’t 100 per cent, there was no way I wasn’t going to fight.”

Her fans back home were able to watch the clash live on Boxnation TV, while it was also the first women’s fight to be shown as a main event by Enfusion TV which broadcasts in 50 countries.

The competitive nature of the bout and the Canadian’s part in it helped justify the headline treatment.

“I expected it to be tough because she is really good, but I didn’t expect her to come forward so much,” Iman said.

“I really had to work hard and dig deep.

“I did my usual in the first round, but she was on top of me and I knew I had to score more.

“I felt asleep for the first part of the bout, but I got stronger while she tired later on.

“She kept working hard, but wasn’t able to score at a high rate, and when I started doing body kicks in the last round, that helped me to score well.

“I was really happy to win.”

The Barlow family plan to celebrate reaching the century mark with friends and fans in Melton, but only after Iman’s next bout in the Women’s Fight League which takes place in Poland in five weeks.

She added: “I’ve been doing the sport for nearly 20 years and did more than 100 junior fights, but to reach 100 professional fights, not many fighters can say they have done that.

“It’s a bit crazy – I don’t feel I’ve had that many. But I’m not going to reach 200.”

Her hometown fans will be able to see Iman fight in Melton on October 14 as the headline act of the next Muay Thai Assassins show.

She then faces a big fight in Sweden the following month when she aims to add a prestigious World Muay Thai Council (WMC) world title to her growing collection.

But next up is an all-expenses-paid trip to Philadelphia to put on two seminars and hold private lessons.

And there will also be time to recreate a famous scene from one of her favourite films.

“I’m going to run up the Rocky steps while I’m there,” she said.

“I’m just really grateful to the sport for all the different experiences.”