ONE Championship’s first event of 2020 takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, January 10, and features some of the most exciting kickboxing and Muay Thai stars on the planet.
The card, named ‘A New Tomorrow,’ will be headlined by flyweight Muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who’ll be attempting to defend his title against the man he won it from, Jonathan Haggerty.
Another thriller of a fight taking place on January 10 is Liam Harrison vs. Mohammed Bin Mahmoud, which is set to open the main card. These two bantamweights always come roaring to fight, especially at an event of this magnitude.
British combat sports legend Liam Harrison spoke to The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko about his upcoming fight, the difference between gloves in MMA and Muay Thai, as well as Lethwei superstar Dave Leduc.
Fighting with smaller gloves
If you’re a fan of Muay Thai, then you most likely recognize who Liam Harrison is. The Brit has made quite a name for himself in the combat sports world through his exciting and often bloody bouts, with his most notable being against the legendary Thai Saenchai.
Throughout his 20-year career, “The Hitman” has compiled a record of 86 wins, 24 losses and 2 draws, with 42 of his victories coming via knockout or TKO — from body shots to leg kicks, Harrison has finished a fight every way possible.
On top of having a robust record and fighting elite-level competition, the 34-year-old has had the opportunity to perform all around the world, and his deal with Asian-based ONE Championship has allowed him to return to a land he once called home.
“I lived in Thailand for two years and fought in every stadium — all the main stadiums, all over Thailand for all the big promotions,” Harrison told John Hyon Ko. “And to fight for ONE Championship in Bangkok is a bit of a bucket list [thing] for me. I want to make sure everybody gets the best Hitman. I want to fight hard, strong and fit, and really put on a good performance.”
ONE Championship’s showcase Muay Thai bouts typically require fighters to wear four-ounce MMA gloves instead of the traditional gloves usually worn. There are various benefits and disadvantages to using both, and Harrison gave his personal experience of using the four-ounce gloves.
He stated that while he was able to do more damage with the smaller gloves, they take getting used to.
“It’s still pretty new to me,” Harrison said. “I’ve only had one fight in them against Rodlek, and then five weeks later I fought straight away in the big gloves. To be honest my hands hadn’t fully recovered when it was time to fight because Rodlek was tough and I bounced some massive punches off of his head.”
“I’m looking forward to doing it again, definitely. I’ve got the same schedule again – I’ll fight on the 10th of January in small gloves, then six weeks later, I’ll be straight back fighting on YOKKAO again in the big gloves.”
Harrison explained that one advantage of using the bigger gloves in comparison to four-ounce gloves is that you are able to block shots with the gloves. A good example of this was his last fight for ONE Championship, where he was dropped in the opening round.
The Englishman explained that if he was wearing the usual Muay Thai gloves, his opponent’s shot would not of landed, therefore sparing him a knockdown.
“There are certain things you can’t do in the small gloves that you can do in the big gloves, like a long guard and stuff like that, just because there are so many gaps. When I was training for the Rodlek fight – I use the long guard a lot in Muay Thai – we were training not to do that because there are so many gaps. The one time I did do it, he tagged me big, right around the back of my ear. I got an eight-count for it, which respectively lost me the fight.”
“I need to be careful and think about stuff like what type of guard to use and the type of head movement. So yeah, it is quite tough moving back and forth, I would be better off just sticking to using one style but if I had to choose one style, for now, it would be the bigger gloves.”
Beef with Dave Leduc
As the ancient sport of Lethwei slowly creeps out of its national home of Myanmar, more and more people are quick to compare the brutality they witness to that of Muay Thai, as both disciplines share similar techniques — crossover fights are also a common event.
Lethwei’s first and only worldwide mega-star, Dave Leduc, recently fired shots at Liam Harrison for comments he had made about the sport. However, according to Harrison himself, Leduc was, and still is, misunderstood about the entire ordeal.
The Muay Thai fighter went into detail about how the alleged ‘beef’ came to fruition, explaining to The Body Lock that it started out as some good old fashioned British humor.
“I wrote something on Facebook, basically a lot of it was British humor. I was watching a few Lethwei fights, and no one can argue with this, but the technique of the Lethwei fighters is poor. They are tough, tough men, do not get me wrong, I understand how tough they are and how crazy they are when they fight. But the technique of 99% of those guys is poor technique and a lot of the fights are wild, but that’s what draws people to it.”
Harrison says that his post regarding Lethwei was intended to be humor and only that. Nonetheless, World Lethwei cruiserweight champion Dave Leduc had some words to say about him. In return, the Brit accused him of deleting comments from challengers his own size, as well as deliberately calling out smaller opponents.
“He started running his mouth with no humor about it whatsoever. But the thing is, he fights all these small guys, then calls out guys like Buakaw, who he knows is 15 kilograms lighter than him. And then he’s deleting people’s comments who comment on his stuff calling him out. They inbox me saying ‘look, I want to fight this guy, I keep commenting but he keeps deleting my comments.’ So I thought fuck it, I’m going to put something on my Facebook.”
“I didn’t say anything about Dave, his techniques, his fights or anything. He was the one who started making it personal about my fights, so I went back and forth and everyone seemed to enjoy the little beef on the internet.”
In addition to arguing with Leduc on the internet, Harrison revealed exclusively to John Hyon Ko that the president of the World Lethwei Championship sent him a message about potential fighting for them, along with an offer.
“The President of the WLC messaged me, and offered me half the money I get to fight for ONE Championship! And I said well no, why would I do that? I said I’ll need more money than I get from ONE Championship for it to be worth my while. It’s a smaller promotion, it’s a smaller scale, and obviously I don’t want to be smashing my hands to pieces.”
Liam Harrison isn’t the only Muay Thai fighter to have online altercations with Dave Leduc — Eddie Farrell, an accomplished Muay Thai and Lethwei competitor in his own right, has been calling for a shot at Leduc for a while now.
“[Leduc] insulted Eddie and called him a punching bag or something like that, so Eddie put up a big status on his Instagram about it the other day as well. But I know Eddie wants that fight, he’s been chasing it for quite a while.”
“The amount of people who have been saying ‘I want to fight him’ or ‘I want to get a fight with him’ is crazy. There are so many people out there who do want a shot [at Dave Leduc], but I don’t know how it works.”
Steven specialises in MMA and Lethwei. He loves a good 1-2 down the middle.