Before a roaring crowd at Hollywood Park Casino, a superbly fit and undefeatedMike Lemaire (9-0, 3 KOs) of San Diego, Calif. ran to three consecutive victories, including a third round (2:26) KO of Eddie “Showtime” Walker (11-2-1, 9 KOs) of Atlanta, G! a. in the championship round of the ROAD TO GLORY USA eight-man middleweight (187 pounds/85 kilograms) tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9.
For his efforts, Lemaire was awarded a tournament grand prize of $20,000 and a one-year development contract with GLORY, the world’s new premiere kickboxing league.
“For me, this tournament was all about the contract with GLORY; Money is just money, but the contract is a tremendous opportunity,” said the 26-year-old, 6-foot-1 Lemaire, a protégé of former world Muay Thai champion Melchor Menor. “I’ll fight anyone (GLORY) puts in front of me now – anyone, anywhere, anytime. I’ve got a lot to work on and a lot to learn, but I’m here to stay.”
Lemaire overcame tremendous odds against Walker after being pushed to new limits by fellow prospect Andrew Kapel(12-4, 10 KOs) of Minneapolis, Minn. in the tournament’s semifinal stage. Walker, by contrast, was relatively fresh and well-rested after scoring a second round (1:26) KO on Edgar Del Fierro (18-5, 14 KOs) of Fresno, Calif. in the quarterfinal stage and a second round (2:13) TKO on Van “The General” Wyk Povey! (33-4-1, 22 KOs) in the semifinal stage of the tournament.
Kapel sent Lemaire to the canvas in the first round with a round kick to the head, but Lemaire beat the referee’s count and continued to move forward and press the action, scoring repeatedly with his right hand over the course of the bout. After the third and final scheduled round of the matchup came to a close, the bout was declared a draw, sending the fight into a fourth, “sudden victory round” to determine a winner.
Lemaire took charge in the added round, cracking Kapel with his right hand and repeated round kicks, including one to the head towards the end of the round before Lemaire was declared the winner of the hard-fought contest by split decision.
In the tournament championship bout, Walker began stalking Lemaire in the outset as he had done to his first two opponents.
After turning the tides with his r! ight hand and rallying in the middle of the first round, Lemaire continued his momentum in the second, finding his rhythm and putting pressure on Walker with quick hand combinations. Then, a sudden hard right leg kick from Lemaire found its mark on the left thigh of Walker, who crumbled to the canvas in pain.
Walker made it to his feet and through the round, but his leg was noticeably battered. In the third round, Lemaire went after Walker’s bad leg, putting Walker down three more times with leg kicks before the referee stepped in and stopped the fight.
In the quarterfinal round of the tournament, Lemaire overwhelmed Russian import Evgeny “The Beast From The East” Zotov (5-3, 3 KOs) of Sevierville, Tenn., putting Zotov down and out for the count with a thunderous head kick in the second round (:48) of the fight.
COMPLETE ROAD TO GLORY USA MIDDLEWEIGHT TOURNAMENT RESULTS:
Tournament Reserve Fight:
Afam Egbochuku def. Jacob Poss via KO – Round 2 (1:08)
Eddie Walker def. Edgar Del Fierro via KO – Round 2 (1:26)
Van Wyk Povey def. Jonarh Junio via TKO (two knockdown rule) – Round 1 (1:23)
Andrew Kapel def. Casey Greene via split decision – 29-28, 28-29, 29-28
Mike Lemaire def. Evgeny Zotov via KO – Round 2 (:48)
Eddie Walker def. Van Wyk Povey via TKO (two knockdown rule) – Round 2 (2:13)
Mike Lemaire def. Andrew Kapel via split decision (after sudden victory round) – sudden victory round scores: 10-9, 9-10, 10-9
Mike Lemaire def. Eddie Walker via KO – Round 3 (2:26)