Aylesbury’s British champion Steven Cook reached the pinnacle of his kickboxing career by taking the WRSA World Kickboxing title over 12 rounds of against tough Moroccan Soufiane Hammani who held the WKN belt.
What made the achievement even more remarkable is that Cook won all 12 rounds on the three judges’ scorecards with a display of immense stamina and technical precision.
Topping the bill at the Fenman Fightnight in Littleport Cambridgeshire, the Pegasus Gym owner brought the largest travelling support on the night and he did not disappoint as he produced a kickboxing masterclass to totally dominate a reigning world champion and clinch a fully deserved victory.
Both men started fast and confident but it was Cook who set his stall out early, using fluid footwork to score his shots and then move out of range before Hammani could mount his own offensive.
Across the opening rounds the Moroccan was shocked and then frustrated by the pace, variety and mobility of the British champion as Cook was both explosive and elusive. Hammani could have been forgiven for thinking that Cook would eventually slow or his concentration would lapse but after a gruelling training camp, the Aylesbury man was in the shape of his life and if anything he upped the pace and looked even stronger by the halfway stage of the contest.
Hammani showed glimpses of his immense power but he had no answers to Cook’s footwork and devastating combinations that included spinning jumping sidekicks and heavy shots to the body.
Any chance of Cook fading were dashed by a dazzling combination in the eighth round that saw the Moroccan floored by an uppercut and have to take an eight count.
From that point on the bout was over as a contest and Cook played to the arena, walking his opponent down, throwing outrageous scissor kick combinations and delighting his large band of travelling supporters as he dominated a recognised world champion.
When the final bell went and the MC brought the fighters together for the decision, Hammani applauded Cook, aware as anyone there was only going to be one winner.
Veteran commentator and writer Malcolm Martin hailed Cook’s performance as “a masterclass” and this was confirmed by the judges as all three gave Cook all 12 rounds.
After celebrating with his ecstatic travelling army of fans, Cook paid tribute to the team who had prepared him so thoroughly for the fight, saying: “I thank Nathan Graham for training with me despite having a broken hand to make sure I got through it alongside Mike Graham and Benson James shouting at me for the last eight weeks.
“I took inspiration from being bullied as a child and was determined to make my mum, dad and brothers proud by bringing home the belt. I refused to lose in front of so many of my students and extended family. I would also like to thank my sponsor Care Building for all their help too. I’m world champion!”