Arashi-do kickboxer Sean Enright headed into enemy territory Saturday night in Duncan, B.C., and came home with the biggest win of his career and a Canadian championship.
The win, however, did not come easily for Enright (10-2) as he and hometown hero Johnny Williams (10-3) stood toe to toe for five rounds in an ebb-and-flow battle, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.
“He was a cardio guy like me and really pushed forward,” said the new Canadian champion. “It was interesting because we were both pushing each other the whole time. He made me work to counter him. I had to counter him all the time. I couldn’t counter and move, I had to counter and counter and counter.”
Enright got a call three weeks ago asking him take to the fight for the Canadian International Kickboxing Federation Muay Thai junior welterweight kickboxing championship. The Red Deer kickboxer decided to take the fight on short notice and move one division lower than his usual 147-pound weight class.
The first round of the contest was extremely close, with a slight edge going to Williams as he demonstrated excellent boxing skills in front of his hometown.
An adjustment between rounds allowed Enright, 20, to turn the fight in his favour.
“We tried to get inside because Williams had the better reach,” said Enright’s corner woman Stephanie Essensa. “Sean started using the clinch and landed some pretty good knees and he took that round. Whenever Sean got inside he did really well, whenever he pushed forward he did well. When he put Johnny on the ropes, he would move into the clinch and land some really good knees.”
The B.C. junior welterweight champion, however, came back hard in the third round, pressing the action and forcing the Red Deer martial artist back on his heals.
In the fourth round it was Enright’s turn to push the tempo and he did so by moving the fight inside again, landing wicked knees and hurting Williams to the body.
In the fifth round the two stood toe-to-toe in the centre of the ring for the entire two minutes.
“It turned into a brawl, with the two of them just standing in front of each other teeing off with the crowd going crazy,” said Essensa. “Both were landing some pretty clean shots on each other.”
At the end of the fight, Enright was not absolutely sure he had done enough to secure the decision win in William’s hometown.
“We thought it could have been a split-decision,” said Enright. “When they said unanimous, I thought he definitely had it and when they put my hand up, I was pretty stoked.”
The win is the second national championship for Red Deer Arashi-do this year, as Essensa is also the current Canadian women’s 118-pound champion.
Doug Rowe is a local freelance writer