2017-08-01
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Kajun Puno vs. Robbie Luatua

Event Preview: Ascension 0802
Ascension
2017-08-02, London, Wombley Arena
Author:Kalle Derlude

Kajun Puno vs. Robbie Luatua

Overview about one of the biggest Heavyweight fights ever

Ascension is about to close its gates. For good this time around, unless the coming developments take a sudden turn. But a silent departure, it is not. For in next to last show, we will be treated with a fight between two Heavyweights that was a long time coming. It is the sort of fight that is so special, because all too often it never happens. Promotional tactics, protective managers or conservative business acumen routinely and effectively get in the way. But when it happens, it is time to tear open the history books and hold on to your pens: Because Kajun Puno and Robbie Luatua will fight!

Time to take a good look at both of these fighters. Where they came from, what they achieved, where they stand today and what it will take to beat the other. If you look at either fighter's earlier fights, there was little indication in both cases that they would go as far as they eventually did. This is especially true for Robbie Luatua, who after his 21st career fight was a meagre 11-10. At this point he was already eight years into his fighting career and had his spirits tested by a soul crushing four fight losing streak. When he left LEGACY! under these circumstances, he seemed destined to be labelled as little more than a hard hitting Journeyman. But only the hard hitting bit should remain relevant. Because ever since that point in time, Robbie Luatua has not only not been beaten anymore. He went on an awe inspiring 14 fight winning streak. He won all of these fights by KO or TKO. He is therefore unbeaten in Ascension and has defended the Heavyweight belt a stunning eight times. An incredible feat in its own right. Much more so when considering that it happened in the framework of such a remarkable evolution. And at Heavyweight out of all weight classes.

But how on earth was that possible? How could Robbie Luatua go from being a Journeyman, who was knocked out already seven times, to become the man who was unbeaten ever since, defended Ascension's Heavyweight title a record eight times in a row and knocked a guy like "Ulven" Gymer Alexandersson into retirement?

The key word has to be “defence”. Luatua was always a tough customer, but far too reckless early in his career. He was headhunting and showed little regard for the offerings of his opponents. And while he was durable, such careless offensive made him far too hittable. Looking through Luatua's losses, one pattern reveals itself with utmost consistency. He got out-landed rather clearly in most of these defeats. This is where his game changed the most drastic. Because Luatua may have always been a knockout artist. But at this critical point in his career he started to take a more measured approach. One that yields far more devastating results. Luatua is rarely the fighter who goes in there and knocks his man out in one blow. Instead he chips away major chunks, but one at a time. Within his reign of terror of 14 knockout victories, only three of these came in the first round. This shows what a cerebral killer Luatua has become. He can wait and he will knock you out!

Kajun Puno also showed little indications in his early career that he would once be the p4p kingpin that he is today. In fact, he was at one point in a very similar situation as was Robbie Luatua. At 22 years of age and six years into his fighting career, he accomplished an unremarkable 6-5 record. His biggest claims to fame being a submission of the night performance in his second fight and being the son of one of the greatest Heavyweights of all time (and many say THE greatest): Fidel Puno. Many felt that the footprints of the original “Pinoy Savage” would turn out too big to be filled by his son. And at this point, all the critics seemed to be beyond confirmed. But then Kajun Puno would go on an eleven fight winning streak, which would then be disrupted by his one and only loss since his troubled first career third. A decision loss in a five round fight for the CEC Heavyweight title vs. Jordi Joestar. He would avenge that loss later and remain unbeaten ever since, collecting another seven consecutive wins. During his rise to the p4p top, Puno collected the Destiny, Evolution and Synchronicity Heavyweight belts. Destiny closed its gates shortly after him capturing the title. But he holds the Syn. and EVO titles to this day.

There is much to be discussed about Kajun Puno. But for the subject of this article we will focus on what exactly changed, when Puno made his remarkable transition from would-be to actual “Pinoy Savage”. In Puno's case there was an undeniable physical aspect at play. Because as a Heavyweight, Puno only ever suffered one loss. The aforementioned loss at the hands of Jordi Joestar. But during his string of mixed success, where he went 6-5, he fought as a Middleweight and later on as a Light Heavyweight. It was only at Heavyweight that Puno came truly into his own. He never took well to weight cutting. Four decision losses at the lower weight classes and a last minute knockout loss in the third (only five seconds before the bell!) highlight as much.

Knowing all that ... what exactly is the complexion of the fight at hand? Some would point to Puno's grappling prowess as a way to victory. And while certainly not completely off the table, such an approach could be dangerous against a man, who never was submitted. He was beaten by ground and pound in the past. But that was the old Robbie Luatua. And on the feet? Hard to say. Because Kajun Puno may very well be one of the toughest men around, with only one decisive loss. The aforementioned last minute knockout in just his fourth career fight at Middleweight (his first career loss, BTW) was the only time he ever was put away. Which is amazing, considering the line-up of killers he has fought ever since rising through the ranks.

But by the same token, Robbie Luatua is quite possibly the most dangerous striker of the weight class. And that even if you compare him historically. He is not just a competitor. He is the man to beat at 265, not named Kajun Puno. Honestly, this one is impossible to predict. On one hand you have the unrivalled durability of Kajun Puno. And on the other hand you have Robbie Luatua. A striker, who is not reliant on landing that one Hail Mary punch to knock any man out. And he has cracked many sturdy chins over the course of his last 14 fights. Like the one of Anthony Joseph, who got dealt his first KO loss by Robbie Luatua.

Maybe we should ask Anthony Joseph what he thinks, who will win. Because interestingly enough, he fought both men. And that right around the pivotal points of their careers. He dealt Puno his last loss at 205 before the Filipino went to 265 and ascended to greatness. And he was the very first victim of Robbie Luatua's run of 14 consecutive knockouts. Which makes him the only man (if this writer here is not sadly mistaken), who has ever fought both.

 

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