Written by Jeffrey J. Kelly

The fifteenth anniversary of ESPN2's "Strike Force" kickboxing shows held May 15 in San Jose, California could justifiably be called a knockout. The ISKA brought out its best fighters and all but one of the hard hitting main bouts were decided by knockout.

The first of the main events saw a very evenly matched ISKA middleweight Freestyle title bout between Melvin Murray of British Columbia, who entered the ring wearing a full Indian headdress, and Cecil Higgins of Phoenix AZ.. A knockdown in the 3rd seemed to wake Higgins up and he started putting together combinations in the third. In the 6th, he caught Murray with a thundering round kick to the chest and then, in the 8th, a perfectly aimed round kick caught Murray in the ribs and sent him down for count, securing the title for Higgins.

After testing each other cautiously in round 1, Duncan James of Scotland and Jerome Turcan of San Jose slugged it out for the rest of their five round Super Heavy Weight bout. In the end, the judges awarded the win to Turcan, the only one of the main events to go the distance. 

A Full Contact bout for the middleweight championship featured Javier Diaz from
Argentina against Eric Regan from Sacramento. After a first round that consisted mostly of shadowboxing, Regan caught Diaz with a short left hook in the beginning of the 2nd round. Diaz stumbled and then collapsed in the corner. The referee called the match and awarded the International title to Regan.

In his first fight in over a year and a half, Francis Farley of Capitola waited patiently as Trevor Ambrose of England slowly danced his way into the ring. Farley hoped to avenge his only ring loss against the very same Ambrose. Farley seemed eager to bring the fight to a reluctant looking Ambrose. Ambrose's power, however, could not be denied when he unloaded some hard body shots while Farley was on the ropes in the 2nd. In the 3rd a straight right caught Farley leaning back against the ropes and knocked him flat on his back, ending the fight and securing the Middleweight World title for Ambrose.

In a Muay Thai Welterweight title match, Jong Sanan of the San Francisco Fairtex camp took on Mark Brackenbury of Canada. After a feeling out 1st round that nonetheless contained a standing eight count for Brackenbury, Sanan put together a variety of powerful punches, kicks, and knees and began to dominate. After getting caught with hard right uppercut, Sanan turned up the heat in the third. A body shot that caused a standing eight count was followed by another in the corner and was the beginning of the end. The referee called the bout and awarded Sanan the match on a technical knockout. 

Russian Super Heavyweight contender Andrei Dudko kept champion Jean Claude Leuyer on the ropes with a non-stop barrage of punches for the first two rounds of their championship bout. It looked like it was over for Leuyer when he suddenly discovered Dudko's weak spot. A kick to the Russian's left thigh almost caused him to collapse. From then on, it was a race to see who could push the other's magic button. It was a strategic battle of punches versus leg kicks until the 5th round when Leuyer was able to close the deal with a knockout by leg kick. 

A Feather Weight world title match saw Dave Cummings of Colorado take the fight to Bunkerd Fairtex of San Francisco, but a fatal lack of leg conditioning allowed Bunkerd to set Cummings up for a hard kick to the jaw the send Cummings down and out at 2:15 of the 1st round. 

In a San Shou contest, hometown favorite Gong Le of San Jose dominated Scot Sheeley of Ohio with a series of high scoring throws. Overcoming a standing eight count, Sheeley fought back gamely till a sweeping throw by Le landed him hard on the back of his neck in the second round. Fearing for Sheeley's safety the referee wisely stopped the fight, giving Le the Light Heavy Weight crown.

In between the bouts a seemingly ageless Ernie Reyes Sr. and his West coast demo team on a series of incredible demonstration. The man has been creating exciting and innovative demo's since I was in high school and they just keep getting better. Congratulations to ESPN2, the ISKA and Scott Koker Productions for another exciting evening of the best kickboxing has to offer. 


Copyright 1998 USMTA Inc. All rights reserved. Revised: October 16, 2004.