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Shannon kickboxer Liam on top of the world after Birmingham win

SHANNON kickboxer Liam Alford forced a stoppage of previously undefeated UK fighter Qasim Beg on Sunday in Birmingham taking the IKF, WKO, WRSA, ICO and WKA super lightweight world titles.
Liam is trained by Howie Vincent, a huge figure in Shannon kickboxing, who said he was overjoyed with the victory, which he said was an upset comparable to boxing heavyweight Anthony Joshua’s defeat to Andy Ruiz two years ago.
“Over the moon! In the kickboxing world it’d be the equivalent of when Anthony Joshua lost to Ruiz, that’s how big it is in the world that we compete in. This lad was 49-0 from amateur to pro, never lost a fight. Absolutely over the moon.”
It was a nightmare for the fighter known as ‘The Dream’ and Howie said he had known the upset was very possible.
“As I said at press conference over there, we wouldn’t have taken it if we weren’t confident. Yes we knew what we were up against, I mean 49-0, going for his 50th win.
“Yes, we respected what he had done, knew what kind of fight we had. We had a game plan, this was the best camp we’ve ever had. They were saying the same thing, that he’d broken all his own records in running and strenght and conditioning.
“The two of them went in as good as you could get, Liam had just one niggly injury as you get going into these things. I was confident we would win, but in the ring one punch can turn it, as they say when you get hit in the face the game plan goes out the window sometimes.”
Summarising the fight, he added, “I thought the first round was very close, I probably would have given it to Quasim. The second round, I thought we did enough to win it. The third round Qas came out, started pushing Liam back.
“Part of our game plan was that if he was coming forward, to meet him. Liam met him with a cracking right hand over the top, he got a standing count and in my opinion it should have been stopped. He came out for the fourth, Liam met him in the middle of the ring, just hit him with a beautiful combination. When he was on the ropes Liam just unloaded and the fight was stopped.”
Ironically in the light of the stoppage, prior to the fight Qasim had claimed that Liam had no power, but Howie says there was no basis to that charge.
“Liam was as cool as a cucumber, he said ‘well, you’ll have to face me in the ring whether you think I’ve power or not’. I knew he had power, I hold the pads for him.”
He feels the former champion’s camp didn’t take into account Liam’s physical progression since his last fight, pre Covid. “ They were looking at his fight from two years ago, but that was two years, he was only 19 then. He’s 21 now, but they didn’t take that into account, that he was only a young fella when he won a world title.”
A rematch is likely and Howie hopes that can be held in Shannon, with Liam having already travelled to Qasim’s home town.
He feels that the success is just reward for a very dedicated young fighter.
“As an amateur he always trained like a pro. Yes, we had a bit more time than usual, but his training camps, since he was 13 have always been the same. We train as hard as we can.
“I could say to Liam go out and do a 100 mile run and he’d go out and do it. I wouldn’t have to check on him. I’ve quite a few fighters here who are like that.
“If you’re chasing a fighter it makes it very hard, but Liam was actually chasing me to get more training in. I had to kind of rein him in because he didn’t realise himself how fit he was.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.