Iman Barlow defends world title on final Melton appearance

Commonwealth champions Thai Barlow (kneeling) and Tyree Stevens with world champion Iman Barlow and Assassins chief instructor Mark Barlow EMN-191016-081133002
Commonwealth champions Thai Barlow (kneeling) and Tyree Stevens with world champion Iman Barlow and Assassins chief instructor Mark Barlow EMN-191016-081133002
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The Assassins Thai Boxing and K1 team marked their sell-out home show in style on Saturday with a hat-trick of international titles.

Thai Barlow and Tyree Stevens both claimed Commonwealth titles before Iman Barlow marked what is believed to be her final hometown appearance by defending her WTKA world belt for a third time.

Show promoter Mark Barlow said: “I said it was going to be our biggest and best show so far and it was awesome.

“We had a couple of late pull-outs, but it all went well on the night.”

Iman topped the bill with another world title defence, this time against French opponent Cindy Silvestre.

The Melton fighter started well, using her trademark kicks and power to tire our her opponent.

By round three Iman had landed plenty of kicks, and picked up the pace with punches and elbows which opened a big cut on the forehead of the Frenchwoman.

This prompted the doctor and referee to step in and stop the fight, giving the Melton star a technical knockout.

Her brother Thai was first to compete for a title against Chad Ryan, of Manchester.

An even first round saw the home fighter score well with kicks, but the bout ended dramatically in the second when Thai caught Ryan with a big right-hand which knocked out his opponent.

Stevens’ Commonwealth title contest against Keith Wall (Courage Thai) was the penultimate fight on the bill and it proved a technical battle, with both using a full range of Muay Thai kicks, punches, knees and elbows.

Tyree was the stronger and sharper of the two and had shaded all of the rounds until the referee stepped in to stop the fight in the fifth and final round.

The large swelling around Wall’s eye would later prove to be a broken orbital socket, and Stevens had his title on a technical knockout.

Earlier in the evening, the show began with a debut for Jack Bullimore in a no-result bout, designed to give young fighters experience.

Harley Cole produced a strong fightback after losing the first two rounds, winning the next three to beat a tough Birmingham opponent on points.

Tyler Swift faced a Stoke fighter in his first decision bout, and after both gave their all, the judges awarded a draw.

Mkaylin Kneeland was next against an experienced Leeds junior over five rounds.

The action was fast and furious, but the judges couldn’t split the pair and awarded another draw.

There was another Leeds opponent for Jase Perks in what proved another close bout, with the Yorkshiremen just edging it on points.

Naomi Blankley stepped into the ring for her first adult bout and had to overcome a weight disadvantage when her London opponent weighed in 3kg heavier.

Mark Barlow said: “I told them I was not happy with the weight, but we took the fight and Naomi stuck to the fight plan to win on points.”

Lewis Kelly was another Assassin making his senior debut and went up against Irishman Ian Wall (Courage Thai).

Both fighters came out throwing big punches and kicks, but Kelly scored better with his kicks and looked impressive in securing a points win.

Elizabeth Griffiths also beat an Irish opponent, Bonnie Heir, dominating the contest.

Joe Sharpe was beaten in his K1 bout despite being the aggressor against Havid jama, from Birmingham.

Barlow added: “I was super proud of Joe’s performance. He put everything into it.”

Yahai Kararam made his debut for the Assassins, but was narrowly beaten in an exciting bout where both showed real power.

But the Birmingham fighter’s greater experience ultimately told.

Michael Farrow took some revenge for his clubmates by defeating another Birmingham man, showing his strength to dominate the clench and scoring well with his kicks to win on points.

Then came the first of the four full-Thai rules contests, culminating in the title fights, as George Griffiths took on the Spanish fighter Kenneth Alconran.

Griffiths stepped yup in what was a real battle between the two.

Again the clench proved decisive in the result, with the Assassin too strong for the Spaniard, flooring him with some heavy shots.

Alconran connected with a spinning elbow which opened a big cut on the Melton fighter’s forehead.

But this only fuelled Griffiths to intensify the pressure on the Spaniard, persuading the referee to step in and spare his opponent further punishment.