Las Vegas star Chaz Mulkey (7-4) will collide with British Leeds sensation Simon Chu (29-7-17 KOs) for the vacant WBC MUAYTHAI International Middleweight Championship in the main event of Lion Fight Promotions: Battle In The Desert 4.
The event will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Saturday 19 November.
In the lightweight (135 pounds) co-main event, superstar Phanuwat “Coke” Chunhawat (145-24-1 (24 KO’s) of Oakland, Calif. via Thailand will face battle-tested Muay Thai champion and professional boxing contender Rami Ibrahim (13-7-2 (6 KO’s) of Philadelphia, Pa.
And four-time world Muay Thai champion Kit Cope (23-1 (9 KO’s) will make his long-awaited return to the ring on United States soil when he squares off with rising Muay Thai and MMA star Jose Palacios (5-2 (3 KO’s) of San Jose, Calif. in a featured WBC U.S. welterweight (147 pounds) championship bout.
Two knockout artists and rapidly emerging forces will collide when Las Vegas-based Muay Thai and mixed martial arts (MMA) standout Chidi Njokuani (10-1 (6 KO’s) squares off with aggressive-minded Ken Tran (13-3 (10 KO’s) of Vancouver B.C., Canada in a 170-pound catchweight fight.
The main card will also be highlighted by a pair of women’s bouts. Former Cung Le-prot?g? Elaina Maxwell (0-0) of San Francisco, Calif. will face off with Roxy “Balboa” Richardson (2-1) of Los Angeles, Calif. at super lightweight (140 pounds) while Vivian Leung (1-0) of Las Vegas via Saskatoon, Canada will lock horns with Heidi Otterbein (3-1 (1 KO) of Las Vegas via Vancouver B.C., Canada in a 120 pound catchweight affair.
“We are looking forward to bringing world-class Muay Thai fights to the big stage at one of the most popular destinations in the fight capital of the world and the home of Lion Fight Promotions,” said Lion Fight Promotions President, Scott Kent.
“I’m looking forward to showing the world that I’m the real deal ? one of the best in the sport of Muay Thai,” said Mulkey, who earned his main event billing with a stunning, split decision upset victory over the far more experienced Remy Bonnel at Lion Fight Promotions; Battle In The Desert 3 on Aug. 20.
The victory gave Mulkey the previously vacant WBC interim international middleweight title.
“I’ve been in the grind for a long time now, training with some of the best Muay Thai fighters out there, and now is my time to shine.
“(Chaz) has a nice style with strong boxing and powerful low kicks, but I know that my technique, speed and power will be too much for him,” said Chu, who has faced and defeated some of Europe’s top champions during his stellar career. “It’s a great opportunity to fight for a WBC title. That green belt has my name on it and it’s coming home with me for sure.”
Chunhawat, better known to his fans as “Coke,” has put it on the line in Thailand’s most elite Muay Thai fighting arenas, including Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadiums. He holds wins over some of the sport’s top champions, including three-time K-1 Max World Champion, Buakaw Por Pramuk.
Ibrahim, a ferocious 29-year-old competitor has made his presence felt in the sport of Muay Thai since capturing his first title, a national championship, at the age of 17 by scoring a third round KO on his opponent. A native of The Middle East who relocated to The United States with his family in 1990, Ibrahim has shown an incredible passion for the martial arts, training and competing in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, wrestling, boxing in addition to Muay Thai.
The 34-year-old Cope brought instant mainstream attention to the sport of Muay Thai in 2004 when he lit up the television screen on the MTV True Life episode, “I am a Muay Thai Fighter.” The episode, which went on to become one of the most watched in the history of the networks’ smash-hit documentary series, followed Cope’s journey to Thailand for bare-knuckle rules competition against some of the country’s most dangerous fighters.
The Nov. 19 bout will mark Cope’s first Muay Thai fight in The United States since 2006. Since then, he has been competing in MMA.
“I’ve always been a Muay Thai fighter. Even when I was fighting under MMA rules, I was a Thai boxer at heart,” said Cope. “Until now, though, there weren’t any big opportunities in the sport of Muay Thai. Lion Fight Promotions is changing that, though, and I’m looking forward to getting back to doing what I love. Muay Thai has given me the life that I have today and I can’t wait to get in the ring on Nov. 19.”
Cope’s opponent, the 28-year-old Palacios will enter the ring on a three fight win streak. In his last effort on July 9, the quick moving southpaw earned a unanimous decision over Artem Sharoshkin in Commerce, Calif.
“I know this is a hard fight and Kit is a great Muay Thai fighter,” said Palacios, “but I always expect every fight to be hard. I like being considered the underdog in a fight like this because it just gives me more motivation to push myself to new limits so I can shock the world and show everyone that I’m capable of. I expect to win.”
The 23-year-old Njokuani, who brings a nine fight win streak to the ring, relocated from his home in Dallas, Texas to Las Vegas in 2010 to train amongst some of the sport’s best in the fight capital of the world. His opponent, 28-year-old Tran, known as a crowd-pleasing power puncher, represented Canada against Team China in a Muay Thai vs. San Shou style kickboxing event in China in January, and reeled off two victories in the ring in just a three day span.
Making her professional Muay Thai debut, Maxwell, 32, is a three-time San Shou style kickboxing champion under Le, her original mentor. In 2003, she reached the pinnacle of her San Shou career by capturing the gold medal at the World Wushu Games in Macau, China.
A versatile striker, Maxwell has also tasted success in the sport of mixed martial arts. She made history on Dec. 8, 2006 by competing in the first-ever Strikeforce-promoted women’s MMA bout, battling superstar Gina Carano for three rounds in San Jose.
The charismatic Richardson, a 31-year-old former amateur champion, turned professional in 2009. The Nov. 19 bout will mark her first since July 18, 2010 when she defeated England’s Sheree Halliday by way of unanimous decision in Montebello, Calif.
The 35-year-old Leung will make her second start as a professional. A classically trained pianist, Leung, who enjoyed a lengthy amateur Muay Thai career that began in 2000, is a renaissance woman who enjoys kicking and punching as much as she does the fine arts.
Otterbein, 30, will make her first start since January when she lost a decision in China. Prior to that, she had reeled off wins in all three of her professional bouts.