A late change of opponent failed to derail Iman Barlow as she became the first British fighter to win a Lion Fight world title in the United States on Friday.
The Melton Thai boxing star’s preparations were thrown when scheduled opponent Lara Fernandez, from Spain, withdrew six days before the fight - Barlow’s debut bout in the USA.
American fighter Jeri Sitzes, a former world pro boxing champion, took her place on the Lion Fight bill at Mashantucket, in Connecticut, in what was billed as the biggest Muay Thai boxing show in North America.
The world title clash was third from top of a show which was televised live in the United States and 26 other countries around the world.
Having been told by her corner not to let Sitzes settle, the Muay Thai Assassin dominated the first round and continued to score in the next with front kicks and body kicks while the American tried to up the pace.
Sitzes made life difficult for the English fighter in round three as she moved in close to stop Barlow getting her kicks away.
Several times the American tried to land elbow shots, but Barlow evaded them and countered with her knees.
The home fighter landed some punches in the fourth, but Barlow took them well and again responded with strong body kicks which scored higher points.
In the final round, the Assassin began to tire as the time difference caught up with her, and Sitzes came forward, looking to pounce.
But the Melton fighter continued to score with kicks and absorbed her opponent’s punches.
At the final bell, the judges awarded the bout to Barlow on points, with two of them awarding her all five rounds and the other giving her four rounds to Sitzes’ one.
The big fights keep on coming for the in-demand 23-year-old who returns to the O2 in London on October 15 for the Muay Thai Grand Prix.
Her next assignment across the Atlantic is scheduled for early next year.
* For information on junior training with Iman on Tuesdays (5-6pm and 6-7pm) and Thursdays (5.30-7pm), visit the Assassins Muay Thai Facebook page.