Lion Fight 14 once again provided some incredible Muay Thai action and featured the debut of Gaston Bolanos. He was impressive living up to the pre-fight hype with his TKO win. This performance was special and indicated he has a very bright future in Muay Thai ahead of him.
Bolanos kicked off the AXS TV portion of the card making his professional debut against fellow first timer Brian Del Rosario. For Lion Fight fans Bolanos had two familiar faces in his corner, CSA coach Kirian Fitzgibbons and Muay Thai legend Kevin Ross. Bolanos had an impressive amateur career and Michael Schiavello informed the viewers that he went 23-3-1 as one.
In the first round Del Rosario used his hands taking advantage of his length while Bolanos countered with more kicks and clinch work. It was a close competitive round with Bolanos being busier and slightly more effective.
Del Rosario came out slightly more aggressive to start the second round but as it progressed Bolanos became the aggressor. He was consistently coming forward, controlling the space and pace of the fight. As the fight unfolded their contrasting styles were more apparent.
Bolanos brought a more traditional Muay Thai style while Del Rosario was using more of a kickboxing type of attack. He focused more on his hands and Schiavello noted that his first love is boxing. We saw that in this fight as he relied on his jab more than his kicks to take advantage of his length. This allowed Bolanos to focus on slipping the jab and getting inside.
It did not help Del Rosario that Bolanos was able to catch a lot of his kicks early and use them to score dumps. Bolanos was able to read the kicks in part because Del Rosario did not mix them up enough.
Conversely, Bolanos utilized a much more varied attack and kept Del Rosario off balance throughout the fight. Bolanos brought knees, elbows and kicks from all angles. He was able to get inside and land on Del Rosario consistently during the fight.
In the third round, Del Rosario started to have more success and landed several hard clean punches in the first minute of the round. The problem for him was Bolanos’ had an iron chin and just walked through the strikes to get inside.
Bolanos did exactly that with about one minute left in the third round and got on the inside of Del Rosario. From there he initiated a bear hug clinch and placed his head right under Del Rosario’s chin. He then executed a dump and jarred Del Rosario’s head when they hit the canvas. This slowed him down in the last minute of the round.
Right before the start of the fourth round you could hear Bolanos’ corner tell him that it was his fight. Twenty seconds into the round and Bolanos landed a sweet spinning back elbow that opened up a nasty cut on Del Rosario’s mouth. Bolanos started to apply even more pressure picking up the pace of his attack.
To his credit, Del Rosario did not let the cuts under each eye or the nasty one on his lower lip slow him down. He kept attacking when he could find openings but Bolanos did not give him many.
As the round progressed Bolanos continued to land multiple techniques to pick apart Del Rosario. It was like watching a Muay Thai clinic as Bolanos landed step-in elbows, teeps, punches and clinch work. He rarely attacked with the same sequence of strikes and mixed up his levels when attacking.
Throughout the fight he displayed more of a veteran’s mentality and skill set than a debuting fighter’s.
It was a dump that brought the finish. Again, Bolanos got inside and locked on a bear hug and sent Del Rosario backwards and down. The whole time he kept his head tight under Del Rosario’s chin. When they landed he hit the back of his head on the canvas. The impact caused Del Rosario to yell out and he grabbed his head. The referee accurately stopped it there as Del Rosario was out of it.
Also to be clear the technique Bolanos was using is legal in Muay Thai and very effective. It is not an easy technique to execute. Bolanos did it flawlessly to end the fight.
It was a great debut from Bolanos that lived up to the pre-fight hype. It will be fun to follow his career. Del Rosario looked good too. He fought hard and with a lot of heart. Do not be surprised if we see these two tough talented young fighters meet a couple of times in their careers.
image credit – Lion Fight