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Future of UK Muay Thai

In combat sports you will often hear the phrase ‘future world champion’ thrown about. The phrase is so overused it often becomes difficult to get genuinely excited about up and coming prospects. After all how many times have you heard that phrase spoken about a young fighter only never to see them compete again or fall short of their promise? However every once in a while there is a fighter who does appear to have the hallmarks of a champion fighter.

The UK Muay Thai scene has been developing rapidly over the past few years, what is most exciting is the crop of young talents who have been training from an early age and are now working their way up the ranks in the professional leagues. One such example is George Jarvis. He trains out of Lumpinee gym in Crawley and has been training since he was only 4 years old. His first fight being a year later when he was 5.

I first became aware of this young fighter after watching a fight of his on Muay Thai Grand Prix where he locked horns with Lubaisha Gael. The first thing you will notice when they bring up the statistics before the fight is how Jarvis appears to give up every measureable field to his opponent. He was only 17, weighed 3KG less and only had 2 other professional fights (despite what the statistics claimed). On the face of it you would expect this to be (at best) an extremely tough fight for Jarvis. Like me you might be pleasantly surprised.

Jarvis threw the first right kick from his orthodox stance but his opponent was able to step back and avoid the kick. Jarvis immediately switched to a southpaw stance and was able to deliver two hard body kicks without a reply. Although his opponent was able to land a couple of inside leg kicks Jarvis was able to keep on landing the heavy left kick throughout the first and second rounds. Jarvis showed a number of more discrete skills, after throwing the left kick he would bring his leg straight back ready to check in case his opponent threw a counter kick. He management of space was fantastic as he kept his opponent on the end of his kicks whilst sliding back to avoid any offence from Gael. Any attempt by Gael to engage in a boxing combination resulted in Jarvis fading back to avoid the blows then responding with heavy left kicks to the arms of Gael from a southpaw position.

By the second round Jarvis had secured the centre of the ring but rather than chasing Gael, he began to cut of the ring and pressure him against the ropes. This allowed him to keep the pressure on Gael whilst not sacrificing ring dominance or getting drawn into a chase where his opponent could more easily counter. Jarvis showed a lot of composure during the fight, not get too carried away trying to put his opponent away or taking any unnecessary risks. He found a method which worked against his opponent and then brutally exploited it. When I spoke to Jarvis about this he explained that: “I did not intentionally plan to fight southpaw but it worked well in round one … I was able to kick his back arm every time he tried to attack me”. This shows how well Jarvis was able to adapt his game plan to exploit a fault in his opponents defence to secure a comfortable decision victory as well as showing a maturity well beyond what you would expect from a 17 year old.

Jarvis has since taken yet another step up in competition, this time facing Jake Purdy. This is a fighter whom you will be very familiar with already if you have watched many of the Yokkao events. Purdy has fought many of the top ranked UK fighters at 72KG including Ben Hodge (who also trains a Lumpinee gym) and has made a name for himself as being one of the top competitors in that weight. From the clips I have seen of the fight with Jarvis it looked to be a war. Speaking to Jarvis about the experience, “I knew fighting Purdy would be a big step up but I was confident in my ability and knew I would give him a good fight when our styles clashed”.

Clash is definitely the correct word as Jarvis admitted “His experience in the clinch was the key to victory”. As we can see in this short clip Purdy was able to impose his will in the clinch dropping Jarvis with an elbow and causing a fairly bad cut on the side of his head. What cannot be taken away is Jarvis’s gameness as his immediately stands his ground and comes forward with a boxing combination after receiving the count. Jarvis did feel like he had the advantage in the striking, “I felt like I was beating him when we traded shots”. It was a strong supporting statement when Jarvis dropped Purdy with a beautifully timed head kick whilst edging back. But Purdy was able to use his experience and recovered enough to take the decision victory.

Although not the ideal win for Jarvis there are a number of points which can be made. Firstly he can hold his own against some of the best fighters at his weight in the UK. Secondly, what he might lack in professional experience comparatively he makes up for in ferocity and a willingness to keep coming forward. Even when he received the cut he admitted, “I knew the fight could be stopped [because of the cut] …but it did not affect me in terms of confidence and hesitation .If anything it made me want to push forward even more.” Many fighters would panic or be discouraged after getting cut but Jarvis was able to take stock and use it as a drive throughout the rest of the fight whilst keeping composure.

When asked about anybody he would like to fight, “I 100% want a rematch with Purdy” but will have “a few more fights before to gain more confidence before attacking the top…however I am always up for a test and ready to take on the next challenge”. Being so young it is definitely beneficial that he recognises he has plenty of time to build his professional experience and there is no immediate reason to rush this process. Jarvis only turns 18 this month and the experience he has already put him in good stead as he works his way up the UK rankings.

As I stated at the beginning of this article it is an exciting time for the UK Muay Thai scene with many young fighters who have been training there whole lives finally coming into fruition. Fighters like Jarvis who show technical abilities and an attitude which outstrips their age. As for Jarvis’s aims? I think there can be no doubt, “I want to be at the top, it has always been my dream…and being only 17 and already fighting at the top I am more than confident that one day I will fulfil the dream. Thank you everyone for the support!” I am loathed to ever call somebody “a future world champion”, as I feel it would be hypocritical of me. However Jarvis shows an incredible amount of promise and if he continues with his current progression has the ability to become one of the best young fighters in the UK. In short you will want to keep both your eyes on this up and comer in the coming years.

 

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