After a successful amateur career, one which would see him win world championship gold in Spain (2009), the ISKA English title, and two, Five Nations Championships, the Nottinghamshire town of Newark welcomes one of its favourite sons home this weekend as Bailey ‘The British Bulldog’ Sugden challenges Frenchman Ibrahim Medi, for the ISKA World title, fought under K-1 rulings.
It will be the second time in three years that the Newark fighter has fought on UK soil and, having made his GLORY debut in the world-famous, Madison Square Garden (against Arthur Sorsor, June 2017), as well as having fought on both sides of the Atlantic, being at home certainly won’t faze him.
“It’s certainly been a rollercoaster ride,” admitted Bailey when speaking to the Nottingham Sport.
“I’ve fought all over the world, including places like Los Angeles and Rotterdam; fighting at the Garden though, that was insane.
“I was only 19-years-old at the time and it was just incredible to be there, an unreal feeling.
“Fighting for GLORY though, I never had the opportunity to appear in the UK, which although is a shame, it’s their business, but I was appearing in places you can’t really afford to go to every month.”
Sugden’s last outing, his first on British soil in some three years, arrived at the MTGP Kickboxing Grand Prix at the O2 London in early October last year.
That was opposing Mathieu Guevera, the Newark fighter claiming his fourteenth win (in twenty-one contests), via unanimous decision, before knuckling down for the impending, world title opportunity.
“That last UK fight (against Guevera) was amazing, emotional and intense,” continued Sugden.
“I took well over 150 supporters down to the O2 with me – I still can’t believe that I took that many, and especially as my brother, Chad (a professional boxer with a 13-2-1(4) fight record) was also fighting around the same time.
“Originally I was supposed to be in a grudge match though, that night, with a fellow Brit, but it didn’t happen.
“However, one of the opposition’s corner was a more experienced opponent so that fight was made instead and that made the win all the sweeter.
“I’ve great respect to him (Guevera) for stepping up like that.”
Speaking of Bailey’s brother, Chad, the Newark pro-boxer is himself a former kickboxer, and with it claimed the ISKA World title himself back in 2013, defeating the Italian KO specialist, and Muay Thai champion, Paolo Fiorio by decision (Chad is also the youngest ever, holder of a K-1 professional championship).
There’s even a third Sugden fighter, in brother, Regis Sugden, he having also (like Chad) fought in differing combat sports and had ten K-1, six MMA, and five pro boxing contests, between 2013 and 2019 –even the trio’s father, Dean Sugden, competed, and is himself a former, world kickboxing champion.
The force is most certainly strong in the Sugden family.
“Compared to my brothers, Chad and Regis, my own amateur career, and success, was alright – that and the money has been good,” laughs Bailey, “but I’m not looking at boxing, the opportunity to head to Japan is still a big pull for me.
“Yes, there’s been highlights, especially the fight in Rotterdam (at GLORT Redemption, December 2017, a unanimous decision win over Chenglong Zhang).
“Kickboxing, it’s their sport, and to be able to fight in front of over 15,000, sold out crow, made for a quite amazing atmosphere.
“But coming home, that’ll be something else.”
Now comes the acid test, especially if Bailey Sugden is serious about heading to Japan, and tasting the immense passion that only those in the Far East can bring.
Ibrahim Medi won’t be a pushover of any sort, to which the younger Sugden is well aware, but he has the skills, the knowledge, and the experience, even from those in-house, in which to circumnavigate the challenge at hand.
“I’m buzzing to be able to fight at home, in Newark,” added Bailey.
“With it being for the same title our Chad did as well, is great.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a tough, tricky fight, and the French are really good, but I don’t think he’s fought anyone of the calibre which I have.
“Winning this, it’ll put me up the top of the rankings and then I can look ahead to the rest of this year, and maybe a title defence, or another world title.
“I’m in peak condition though, the best I’ve ever felt, and I’ve trained the hardest I’ve ever done.
“I usually head to the Netherlands, and the Utrecht Coliseum for training because that’s like a second home to me and helps me to test my skills against some of the best.
“But I’ve had some great sparring here, including with Liam Harrison (nicknamed The Hitman, Harrison is a multi-time, world Muay Thai and Kickboxing champion), who is one of the best that’s ever lived – and he invited back, so I must be doing something right.”
There is a public weigh-in for the upcoming FightMax Superstar Fight League show, which is co-headlined by Sugden and Medi’s world title dance; the weigh-in takes place at the Deincourt Hotel, London Road, Newark, on Thursday 17 March, with a prompt, 18:00 start.
Bailey ‘The British Bulldog’ Sugden versus Ibrahim Medi, for the ISKA World title, takes place the following night, Friday 18 March, at the Grantham Meres Leisure Complex – the show also seeing that of Chace Griffin and Blayne Armitage compete for the prestigious Ramon Dekkers Belt.
Keep up-to-date with everything fight related for Baily Sugden, and the Sugden family, via Suggy’s Gym on Facebook as well as Baily Sugden via here and their respective websites at suggysgym.com and baileysugden.com
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @SugdenBailey Sugden is in action this Friday against Ibrahim Medi.