MTGP 27: Jack Kennedy vs Changpuak Jetsada Preview
MTGP 27 Manchester’s main event sees Jack Kennedy from Imperial Gym in Southport taking on the power punching Thai Changpuak Jetsada. Kennedy has been on form, beating Samuel Toscano and Jeremy Payet via unanimous decision on he last two outings for MTGP. Changpuak may be his toughest test yet for the promotion, with the Thai determined to make his mark on the UK come Saturday. To add more gravitas to the bout, the fight will also be for the MTGP World title, an accolade both fighter will be keen to obtain.
Staying in the pocket
Examining Kennedy’s bout against Sam Toscano at MTGP Birmingham, the first thing you notice is how composed Kennedy is throughout the bout. He spent much of the fight inside the pocket, either in range for kicks or punches, but avoided taking any substitutional damage. He did this by quickly assessing the range of his opponent, slipping backwards to avoid the blow. Typically this was done with only a few inches to spare.
Whilst this might seem basic, the application of slipping backward to avoid shots can be extremely difficult. Often, fighters will move feet away to avoid a blow, whist this might mean they slip the strike they have given up a substantial amount of space and are in no position to counter immediately. It also relieves some of the pressure that might have been building on their opponent, giving them breathing space to adjust.
By judging shots range accurately and moving just outside it, Kennedy retains the pressure he applied to Toscano and allowed him to counter with his own shots. Obviously, remaining in the pocket has its inherent dangers. Misjudge a shot even by a small margin can see you receive a significant amount of punishment.
Kennedy has excellent anticipation of what shots are incoming and uses movement such as the backward slip to avoid boxing combinations or the lean back to avoid mid to high kicks. This avoids Kennedy simply putting on the earmuffs with his gloves and taking punishment before dishing it out himself (a popular strategy for fighters like Robin van Roosmalen andJoe Valtellini).
The long guard
A favourite defence of Kennedy is the long guard, keeping his right hand high to deflect incoming blows to the head with his forearm or glove and the left fully extended toward his opponents face. The extended arm obstructs the opponents view and can prevent them from advancing forward (through the straightened arm). It can also frame the opponent for the rear elbow, giving a more accurate assessment of range.
Kennedy also makes an interesting adjustment, the stiff arm can be countered by the opponent breaking the hinge at the elbow. If they can pull on this with enough force it creates an excellent opening to come over the top with an elbow. Likewise, rear overhands can come over the top of the extended arm and connect (especially if the shoulder is not held high to protect the chin). If Kennedy sees his opponent attack the left side of his head with an overhand or elbow, he will move his right hand to pad the incoming blow and provide additional coverage.
Even against a taller opponent, Kennedy is able to utilise his ability to remain in the pocket and the long guard. In his last performance he took on the gangly Thananchai but was still able to effectively use the same tool. Enabling him to sweep the Thai on a few exchanges.
Right tools for the job?
Kennedy is taking on the powerfully built power puncher Changpuak Jetsada. Whilst Changpuak may not have the reach advantage, Kennedy will have to be wary of the Thai feeding in uppercuts through the centre of his guard. The long guard, whilst excellent at preventing charging opponents, does have the glaring vulnerability that there is nothing in the way of uppercut protection.
Kennedy also has an unfortunate tendency to get cut during his bouts. It’s an oddity in fighting sports that some fighters appear to get cut more easily than others who seem to have skin that never splits. It would be a real shame if this bout were stopped due to a cut, similar to Jonathan Haggerty’s loss to Superlek on his last Yokkao outing.
Whether Kennedy has the tool set to answer the power of Changpuak will be answered on Saturday in which will no doubt be an excellent show.