‘Return of the champions’ kickboxing event sells out Walsall town hall

Retiring Ricky Glover and two-time Full Contact World Kickboxing Champion Fran Zuccala have performed in front of a sell-out crowd at Walsall Town Hall. Their fights were part of a thrilling Traditional Martial Arts (TMA) Fight series ‘Return of the champions’ kickboxing event on Saturday, the first event of it’s kind

Crowd favourite Ricky Glover made his way to the ring for the final time, having decided to call quits on a 23-year long fighting career.

Before the fight began the 37-year-old had promised to put on a show for the friends and family who came out to support him and was determined to mark his retirement with a win.

He said: “I was always getting into trouble as a kid, then someone took me down to the gym, I had my first kickboxing session and just carried on from there.

“These people here (the crowd) make the show, we’re just the entertainers, they buy the tickets, they’re the ones supporting.

“I’ve trained hard for this fight, probably the hardest I’ve trained in years, tonight’s my last night and I want to put on a show.”

The pre-fight buzz didn’t disappoint as Ricky Glover despatched of his opponent in the opening round before celebrating with the hysteric crowd.

Fran Zuccala was involved in the final fight of the night, taking on a tough Wilson Smoddy in a fight that would later end in a draw.

Around a thousand people in the audience were also treated to a fight which saw Lee Wragg emerge winner over Cameron Smith via decision in what proved to be a tight opening bout.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to witness the first stoppage of the night as Gerald Doran floored Danny Byrne in the following fight.

The first round proved to be one of the best of the night after tempers flared following Doran’s decision to hit his opponent immediately after their handshake, much to the crowd’s displeasure.

After a tense first round, Danny Byrne was dropped following a well-timed shot by Doran in the second.

Despite getting back up for the third round, a tired Byrne failed to stop the cavalry of punches coming his way and was dropped for the second time in the fight, this time staying down and conceding a knockout loss.

Spaniard Miguel Ruiz then stepped in the ring with a well-prepared Rob Steven, a fight that would prove close but one that Steven would eventually win following the judge’s decision.

On the night Ryan Davis beat Ali Mohammed on his professional debut, before Vaughan Lee submitted Reece Street in the opening seconds of the first round in the only mixed martial arts (MMA) bout of the evening.

There were also wins for Lee Whitfield, Simon Aston and Harvey Haras.

Although there is no set date for the next event, there have been high demands from fans for a ‘Return of the champions 2’.