I've always been very wary of sequels as, with the exception of the Godfather, they don't even come close to topping the original. This wasn't the case with Last Man Standing, however, as sponsors Lurkers Entertainment, DC Entertainment, JFC and NZ Pure put on a rip roaring show for the near capacity crowd. This would be my third Lurkers event, with each becoming more entertaining and more well-oiled than its predecessor. Host-with-the-most and birthday celebrant Puka Lynn would tonight be showcasing four professional fights and a women's bout, as well as the 8-man Last Man Standing tournament. A $5,000 cheque hung enormous over the ring, aimed to inspire the tournament contestants. And although I had satisfied my hunger for sustenance with press beer and press ham (which isn't the same as pressed ham so I'm told), my hunger for combat was still unabated.
As an appetizer, towering guitar virtuoso Kara Gordon kicked us off with incendiary fretwork that took us on a sonic journey through blues licks, classical and flamenco runs - plus some of the finest riffs ever lent to hard rock and heavy metal.
Cahla McKenzie squared off against Rachel Atkins in the women's boxing feature and opener. It was a rare sight, with both contestants seeming more suited to having guys fight over them rather than between themselves. The ring card boy looked divine (and was undoubtedly bikini zone waxed); however, it seemed like he was in for a short night as McKenzie came out winging hard hooks. She applied relentless pressure, and a monster right hand rocked Atkins to the point where the referee was forced to step in.
In the first Last Man Standing tournament bout, Dom Tepu used his timing and right hand to take a clear decision over Matt Ahern.
Immediately following, southpaw Ryan Atkins showcased his southpaw style and strength on his way to scoring two knockdowns (however only one was counted), and winning a unanimous decision over Arnoldus Buis.
The third Last Man Standing preliminary bout pitched Craig Thompson against Turner Ormsby. This was a difficult fight to score, however, Ormsby's pressure prevailed over Thompson's defensive nous and counterpunching, in the eyes of the judges.
The last of the preliminary Last Man Standing bouts was fought between Joseph Hill and Fredrick Kei. The smaller Kei did a good job of giving Hill angles and closing the distance, but it was Hill who landed the harder, cleaner punches.
The first professional bout on the card saw experienced amateur John Leighton dive into the pro game against Ben Villi. Leighton fought an extremely intelligent fight by using his height, taking advantage of openings and mounting a crippling body attack. He was simply a puzzle that Villi couldn't work out, becoming more confident as the bout progressed and being awarded a clear unanimous decision at the final bell.
The semifinal Last Man Standing bouts then began, with Ryan Atkins outlasting a stern challenge from Dom Tepu. Tepu came out aggressive in the opening round, but appeared to gas early in the second. Atkins' left hand then took over as he was able to consistently beat Tepu to the punch on his way to booking his place in the final.
Tuner Ormsby once again put on a display of pressure against Joseph Hill. Hill appeared to have his moments during the third round, and was hurt badly, but Ormsby couldn't close the show. This set up a southpaw versus pressure fighter final that wet the lips of all attending.
World ranked cruiserweight Soulan Pownceby put an absolute beating on Fale Siaola over four rounds. The granite-chinned Siaola soaked up all the punishment Pownceby could muster, but just didn't have enough in his arsenal to be dominant. Pownceby's class won him every round.
In further cruiserweight action, prospect Robert Berridge survived an early scare to dispatch Ronan Hunt in the opening stanza. Action was toe-to-toe with an early Hunt uppercut sending Berridge to the deck. But "The Butcher" survived this, as well as being hurt badly after, and rallied hard to put Hunt on the mat three times later in the round.
In the co-headliner, Shane "Chopper" Chapman stopped Monty "The Grim Reaper" Faeau in the fourth round. Chapman's early body attack set up hard overhand rights that gradually broke Faeau's will. "The Grim Reaper" had a huge moment in the third when he was able to visibly hurt Chapman. However, the opportunity was left wanting, and Faeau couldn't answer the referees count after a three punch combination in the following round.
In a much anticipated Last Man Standing final, Ryan Atkins squared off against Turner Ormsby. Atkins did a great job of sticking and moving to offset a frustrated Ormsby's pressure. The final round provided hard exchanges as both fighter's heads were snapped back; however, it was Atkins who prevailed with a majority decision win. The delight of the vocal East Auckland massive was enormous as the decision was read and one of their own became the latest Last Man Standing Champion.
-- Contact Andy Conlan to order images from specific fights on Andyconlan@gmail.com --
Cahla McKenzie WON by R1-KO vs Rachel Atkins
-- Last Man Standing Preliminary bouts --
Dom Tepu WON by UNANIMOUS DECISION vs beat Matt Ahern
Ryan Atkins WON by UNANIMOUS DECISION vs Arnoldus Buis
Turner Ormsby WON by MAJORITY DECISION vs Craig Thompson
Joseph Hill WON by MAJORITY DECISION vs Fredrick Kei
-- Professional bout --
John Leighton WON by UNANIMOUS DECISION vs Ben Villi
-- Last Man Standing Semi Final bouts --
Ryan Atkins WON by UNANIMOUS DECISION vs Dom Tepu
Turner Ormsby WON by MAJORITY DECISION vs Joseph Hill
-- Professional bouts --
Soulon Pownceby WON by UNANIMOUS DECISION vs Fale Siaola
Robert Berridge WON by R1-KO vs Roman Hunt
Shane Chapman WON by R4-KO vs Monty Faeau
-- Last Man Standing Final --
Ryan Atkins WON by MAJORITY DECISION vs Turner Ormsby