“Smokin” Jo Nattawut reigns over two divisions after Lion Fight 32 win
“Smokin” Jo Nattawut became a two-division champion as he captured the Lion Fight middleweight title on Friday night at the Tropicana Resort Hotel Casino on the iconic Las Vegas Strip.
Taking the fight on just three days’ notice, Nattawut put forth a methodically impressive effort as he claimed the crown against rival Thai fighter Malaipet Sasiprapa live on AXS TV Fights and Fight Network. Nattawut, who now fights out of Atlanta, Georgia, looked sharp and on point throughout the bout as he mainly worked over Malaipet’s body with kicks. Malaipet, who lives in Fresno, California, never got his offense on track until late in the fifth and final round but Nattawut withstood the late pressure.
The reigning super welterweight champ added the middleweight crown with the judges’ verdict going 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46. After the bout, Nattawut, who is scheduled to defend his super welterweight title at Lion Fight 33 next month, offered an agreeable note to the possibility of matching up against the legendary Yodsanklai Fairtex, the former Lion Fight, WMC and Lumpinee Stadium champion.
“I would love that. I need to prove myself against the real king,” said Nattawut.
The Lion Fight 32 card began on a wild note as lightweights Anthony Castrejon, fighting out of Visalia, California, and Cody Moberly of Wichita, Kansas, squared off. After a cautious start by both fighters, they engaged in several back-and-forth tussles before Castrejon began to chop away at Moberly’s legs. Moberly fired back with some solid left hooks, but “Pretty Boy” Castrejon (7-3) found the mark in the fifth, sending Moberly (23-15) to the canvas three times with vicious leg kicks. The third knockdown brought an end to the fight at the 1:34 mark of the last stanza.
A middleweight showdown followed with home-town product Josh Shepard taking on Peru’s Gabriel “El Nino” Mazzetti. Near the end of the first round, Mazzetti cornered his foe and unleashed a barrage that rocked Shepard. The Vegas fighter, who took a knee to the mid-section as the first round closed, came out for the second but promptly got cracked by a Mazzetti (12-2) knee-uppercut-elbow combination. Shepard (5-2) hit the canvas as his corner threw in the towel.
“That was the most impressive debut in Lion Fight history,” declared AXS TV Fights commentator Michael “The Voice” Schiavello.
In what should be considered a Fight of the Year contender, lightweight top prospect Travis Clay stayed undefeated but he had to survive an incredible encounter with fellow rising star Marvin “Mad Lion” Madariaga. The two were fired up right from the start, and unleashed punishing exchanges. Their battle intensified in the second as Madariaga caught Clay with a right but the Chandler, Arizona, product answered with a bullet left. Clay began to find his spots in the third and early in the fourth with lefts and elbow strikes. With his legs withering, the native of Hawaii who now fights out of San Diego, California, got caught in the corner as Clay (4-0) fired away until the referee jumped in to save Madariaga (5-2-1) from sustaining more damage at 2:10 of the fourth.
In a super bantamweight affair, North Hollywood, California’s Victor Saravia (6-2) got back on a winning track as he ended a two-fight losing skid by topping Kendrick Latchmann by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46).
In the night’s co-main event, Irvine, California, veteran Romie Adanaza scored a fifth-round knockdown via a leg kick, which turned out to be just enough to pull him to a majority draw against North Hollywood’s Ming Freeman (49-46, 47-47, 47-47). Arguably, Adanza (19-7-2) should have scored a knockdown in the first but the elbow strike that put Freeman (5-0-2) on the mat was ruled a slip by the referee.
Lion Fight rounds out its 2016 campaign with Lion Fight 33 taking place on Friday, Nov. 21 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Along with Nattawut’s scheduled super welterweight title bout against Hasan Toy, two other title bouts are on the card. Reigning lightweight champion Antonina “The Panther” Shevchenko puts her belt on the line against Ilona Wijmans, and Lion Fight will crown a new super middleweight champ as Regian “The Immortal” Eersel, who knocked out Nattawut in a non-title fight earlier this year, looks to become the kingpin against England’s Marley Zwanenberg.