Carlos ‘The flying Fijian’ Hicks has taken home the King in the Ring 8-man series 75KG title, after defeating Blood Diamond in a tense, exhilarating final before a rapt and boisterous crowd.
The bout, on Friday night at Porirua’s Te Rauparaha Arena, capped off an evening of entertaining fights and demonstrated once again why the King in the Ring series is appointment viewing for New Zealand Combat Sports fans.
Along the path to his coronation, Hicks produced three eye-catching performances, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that the 27- year-old was the deserved winner.
The Hamiltonian’s night began with a quarterfinal victory over a gallant Josh Marsters, who stepped in to fill the breach in the line-up, caused by fighter injuries, on only a week’s notice.
A left knee, almost cinematic in nature, from Hicks, sent Marsters to the canvas in the second round and the damage inflicted was enough to warrant a stoppage from officials.
Hicks’ semi-final was against a rugged David Watts, who had won his quarterfinal in composed fashion with a majority decision win over Joey Parsons.
During the course of the three rounds, Hick’s fluid movement proved too much for the tough Southerner as he struggled to get a handle on the dizzying array of attacking patterns on display from Hicks.
In the second semi-final City Kickboxing’s Blood Diamond defeated the reigning champion ETK HQ’s Vic Mechkov for the first time in his career via a unanimous decision from the judges.
An intensely focused Blood Diamond fired off powerful shots throughout the opening stanza, but Mechkov refused to be cowed and maintained forward pressure of his own.
The second round saw an injury to Mechkov after a punishing inside leg kick to his leg from Blood Diamond. Once this occurred, there was likely to be only one winner, and despite a heroic and gutsy performance from Mechkov for the remainder of the fight, it was Blood Diamond who advanced to the final.
Carlos Hicks in action against Blood Diamond.
“I adapt, observe and conquer,” says Blood Diamond following his semi-final win, and it became apparent during the early exchanges of his bout with Hicks, that he was not going to allow the “Flying Fijian” to set the terms of the contest as he had in his previous two fights.
In fact, it was Blood Diamond who had stopped Hick’s progress at the quarter-final stage of the 2014, 72 kg tournament, with a stoppage win.
From the outset the fight was a cagey affair, both fighters, highly experienced, nationally and internationally, clearly respected their opponent’s abilities with neither keen to be the first one to provide their adversary with an offensive opening.
Over the course of the three rounds, each man had their moments, but Hicks was able to switch up levels in the closing stages and by the end of the final bell had done enough to earn his first King in the Ring title.
“It’s been a long road, 2014 was when I first hit this thing, and it didn’t go well for me, and since then I have been building; in my mind I have been the number one in this country in the middleweight division,” an emotional Hicks says following his victory.
He singled out his coach Ethan Shepp for special mention.
“It’s a bit cliché when people say I don’t know where I would be without him, but he picked me up out of the gutter, he moulded me into the person I am today, and I’ve got so much respect and appreciation for him.”
The other highlight for Kickboxing fans was the return of T.Y. Williams after an injury enforced four-year break from the sport.
Williams fought Tony Angelov in a super fight separate from the main tournament. The 30-year-old Williams took out the contest with a third round TKO, drawing some of the night’s biggest cheers in the process.
The tournament will be returning to Auckland on November 9, when eight fighters battle it out for the 62kg title.
Photo: Crystal Hart.