Amsterdam, Holland — Another significant change has been made to next Friday’s “HDNET FIGHTS PRESENTS M-1 GLOBAL BREAKTHROUGH” telecast (live at 10 p.m. ET), with “The Iron Bull” John Doyle stepping in to fight Karl Amoussou on Aug. 28 in Kansas City at the historic Memorial Hall (tickets available at Ticketmaster.com and all local Ticketmaster outlets) following an injury to Nick Thompson.
“Nick was sparring very hard on Monday and sustained a cut,” said M-1 Global (www.M-1Global.com) Vice President of Live Events Joe Kelly. “Nick alerted us immediately, and like a true fighter he had the cut glued instead of immediately getting stitches. He did everything in his power not to pull out of this fight and kept us informed all day. However, in the end, his doctor wouldn’t clear him to fight. It’s unfortunate but fighter safety always comes first.”
With Thompson out, Doyle will be allowed to continue his resurgence. Once a top light heavyweight prospect who began his career with a 6-1 record and a Combat in the Cage 205 lbs. title, Doyle had been heavily recruited by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, Doyle began to believe his own hype and cut back on his training while accepting short-notice fights against top competitors such Rafael Feijao, Sean Salmon, Ricardo Romero.
“People will point to John’s recent record, but the reality is that not many people were willing to fight Karl on two months notice,” said Kelly. “Finding a guy on two weeks notice? Well, we know John Doyle is a true warrior and has never backed down from a challenge. True to form, John has stepped up yet again. He earned his nickname for a reason and what a lot of people don’t realize, John is a much better fighter than he was when he fought Feijao.”
After a brief retirement, Doyle is back and is 2-1 in his last three fights. His only loss came in his M-1 debut this past June in Kansas City. Facing Extreme Challenge middleweight champion Ryan Sturdy, Doyle lost a two-round split decision that some considered to be controversial.
“John took the fight on 24 hours notice,” Kelly began. “He flew out from Philadelphia on Friday morning, weighed in during the afternoon, and then fought that same night. Despite all of that, John still won ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. And while the fight is listed as a loss, I don’t know many people who felt Doyle lost that fight. At the very least it should have went to a third overtime round.”
Doyle’s last fight took place this past Sunday in Holland against Team Benelux’s Richard Plug. Representing USA East in the M-1 Challenge, Doyle helped the team qualify for the playoffs with a dominant two round victory over Plug. With momentum on his side again, there are questions whether Doyle’s decision to take on a fighter in Amoussou that was voted the number one European MMA prospect by Sherdog.com is a prudent one.
“In the past, I’ve made some bad decisions,” Doyle acknowledged. “I accepted offers without asking questions because I simply enjoy fighting. I took fights on short notice without having trained but this is a different situation. This time I had my management and trainers talk about this fight and whether it was the right decision. In the end, we all decided that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Doyle received national attention in 2008 following a first round knockout loss to Anderson Silva protege Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. Offered a chance to compete for EliteXC during its Internet telecast, he took the fight on 10 days notice without having had a proper training camp. Could history be repeating itself?
“This isn’t the same situation as Feijao,” Doyle responded. “That fight was at light heavyweight and now I am at middleweight — the weight I should have been fighting at from the start. I also took that fight on 10-days notice and barely trained. But I am in great shape and at the end of the day, while Karl is very good and has a bright future ahead of him, he’s not Feijao.”
Doyle is well aware of Amoussou’s reputation as a feared striker but feels his career is back on track and that the chance to compete in a nationally televised bout on HDNet was too good to pass up.
“Hey, I know M-1 probably sees me as nothing more than an opponent for Karl,” said Doyle. “I know they want him to be their franchise player. But it’s all good because if I pull of this upset, M-1 and I can still sit down on Saturday morning and we can talk about my future.”
Amoussou has been well-promoted in Europe and is an opponent that very few fighters have been willing to take on during the last 12 months. Having earned the nickname “Psycho” for his intimidating presence that often includes wearing masks to the ring, Amoussou has been known to psyche out some of his opponents before the fight even starts.
“I think Karl is an entertaining fighter and a dangerous striker,” said Doyle. “I know he’s a threat. But I’m a threat to him as well. As far as his attempts at psychological warfare, I think it looks great to the fans but it will have no effect on me. I know he’s going to mean mug me at the weigh-ins and try and stare me down before the bell rings. But what he needs to understand is that I spent a lot of time growing up in Philly and Newark — two of the most dangerous towns in America. The only way I am going to be intimidated by his mask is if he brings a gun with him to the ring as well. But unless the Kansas Boxing Commission has made drastic changes to their rules since the last time I fought there, I don’t think I am going to have to worry about that.”
While some fans will be disappointed to hear the news that the night’s co-main event between Amoussou and Thompson is off, Doyle seemed unconcerned about any negative feedback that might be directed his way.
“I don’t care about the haters,” he remarked, “I spent a lot of time in Philly and Rocky Balboa has a lot of sentimental meaning to me. Apollo Creed gave Rocky an opportunity of a lifetime. After I beat Richard Plug, I did a post-fight interview and said I wanted to be the best middleweight in M-1 and fight whomever they felt was their best 185’er. Well, M-1 has now given me an opportunity of a lifetime. If someone has a problem with me accepting an opportunity, they can tune into HDNet on Friday, August 28, and I’ll show them what’s up.”
In addition to the live U.S. television debut of Amoussou, “Breakthrough” will also feature the U.S. debut of former NCAA champion “King” Mo Lawal vs. MMA pioneer Mark Kerr as well as a special exhibition sparring match between former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko and newly-crowned Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. For additional information on the card, visit M-1Global.com and HDNetFights.com.