Champ Chip Morazza-Pollard retains world title
It was the stiffest test of his career, but reigning Lion Fight World Cruiserweight champion Chip Moraza-Pollardwithstood the challenge.
“The Surgeon” kept his perfect record intact improving to 11-0 as he notched a hard-earned split-decision victory over Thai challenger Kongjak Po Baoin in the main event of Lion Fight 56 on Saturday night live on CBS Sports Network from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
The champion kept hold of his belt in his sixth title defense by edging Kongjak (160-73-8) on the judges’ scorecards – 50-45, 47-48, and 49-46.
“The end goal is to hold onto the strap,” said Moraza-Pollard, who was fighting in front of a huge throng of supporters from his hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts. “It didn’t go perfectly, but I’m not unhappy with my performance considering his experience and the success he’s had everywhere he’s been.
“He’s won everywhere he’s been, a stadium champion in Thailand, and it was an honor to hang with him. It was a hell of a fight. I knew what I was getting into and he didn’t let me down.”
The exchanges between the champion and challenger were explosive from start to finish. They unloaded on each other with punishing kicks to the legs and body, and both had flurries of penetrating straight lefts as well. Twice Moraza-Pollard landed crushing head kicks to Kongjak’s chin only to have the challenger shake them off.
Kongjak landed numerous kicks and lefts as the fight wore on, but Moraza-Pollard kept ahead of him with a higher volume of connections.
In the co-main event, Amine “The Lion” Ballafrikh kept a firm grip on the Lion Fight North American Lightweight title as he took a unanimous decision from challenger Ricardo Cruz.
Hailing from Alexandria, Virginia, Ballafrikh (12-3) built up an early cushion with furious flurries and quick kicks all while being quite elusive. Cruz (42-12-3), who fights out of Mexico City, Mexico, was able to find his rival in the late going, cutting him with an elbow and going after the target, but he ultimately fell short with the judges (49-46, 50-45, 50-45). Ballafrikh’s slick offensive proved to be too much to overcome for the game challenger.
A super featherweight bout between Michael “Iron Boy” Triana and Joseph “Peculiar” Mueller stole the show as their five-round battle featured much of the best back-and-forth action of the night. Triana, fighting near his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, came out with a new-found aggression as he debuted in the 130-pound ranks. Mueller caught Triana with a spinning elbow in the second round only to be met by a late rally. In the fourth, Triana cut open Mueller by his left eye with an elbow and followed with a blasting right hand that put the West Palm Beach, Florida, fighter on the mat. Moments later, Triana landed another right-hand bomb that put Mueller down, but he was again able to beat the count. Mueller (6-3) wouldn’t go away quietly either as he rallied in the fifth and had Triana in trouble late with a wicked spinning elbow. The judges favored Triana (6-1) with a trio of 48-45 scores.
“The second and third round, I saw an opening and started to pick things up,” said Triana. “The kicks to the ribs hurt him and the left hook hurt him and I was able to capitalize on that. At the end, I was able to cut him open and capitalize on the game plan we had.”
The CBS Sports Network card opened with a bruising super cruiserweight affair that saw pro debuter Tafon “Da Don” Nchukwi land several crushing overhand rights to pull out a dominant unanimous decision over fan favorite Doug Holland (2-1), who fights out of nearby Westerly, Rhode Island. Nchukwi, a Maryland-based training partner of Lion Fight featherweight sensation Ricardo Mixco, got the nod from all three judges – 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45.
“Whatever Lion Fights wants for next, let’s go,” said the delighted newcomer.
Pro Prelim – Cody Laskar (3-0) def. Chase Walden (3-3) via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
Aaron Ortiz def. Elvin Johnson via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Nahom Demissie def. Flavio Brito via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-28)
Chris Lapriore def. Zeal McGrew via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Rob Ovalle def. Dominico McIntosh via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)