Jade Fleetwood (left), landing a kick on Waimatao Tai in last weekend’s fight. PHOTO/CAMPBELL FORLONG

JAKE BELESKI

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

It wasn’t the result she was after, but Masterton’s Jade Fleetwood left it all in the ring in her Muay Thai bout in Hamilton last weekend.

Fleetwood fought Waimatao Tai under full Muay Thai rules — including elbow pads — and lost a narrow points decision after the bout went the full three rounds.

It was her first loss in four fights, but she won’t have to wait long for a chance to get another win under her belt.

She will now prepare for her next fight at Honour 14, to be held at Avalon Studios in Lower Hutt on September 9.

Masterton professional boxer, Zane Hopman, has been helping with her training since sustaining a knee injury which has put his own fighting career on hold, and said he was “very proud” of what Fleetwood achieved after four weeks of training together.

She had represented the Fortitude Thai Boxing club with pride, he said.

“Jade was really appreciative of being able to get back out and do what she wanted to do.

“She said she just wants to have as many fights as she can and learn as much as she can.”

Both fighters had come out firing in the first round, but a couple of knees to the midsection gave Tai the advantage and she took the first round.

Fleetwood came back strongly in the second round after some advice from her corner, and landed some effective knees of her own to lock the contest up at one round apiece.

It was all up for grabs in the final round, and Hopman said it could have gone either way.

“In the last 20 seconds, her opponent probably did a little bit more and it just got her over the line.”

The way she fought back after losing the first round was a positive sign for any young fighter, he said.

“That’s massive in ring sports — to be able to get back up and come back at your opponent.

“I was very proud of her for that.”

Hopman said one of the biggest barriers to young fighters progressing their careers was finding suitable opponents.

Not getting enough fights had been a “real bugbear” for Fleetwood, Hopman said.

“I look back at myself when I was at that stage, and if I didn’t have a fight for a long time I’d start thinking about hanging the gloves up . . . I didn’t want her to walk away from her passion.”

Differences in weight or experience meant the number of suitable candidates was always limited.

Hopman had talked to Fleetwood about the need to be open minded about the weight range she would fight at, and she was more than happy to take that advice on board.

They have now turned their attention to the next month’s fight in Lower Hutt, where the aim will be to keep the ball rolling and the experience growing.

“For her to be able to go away from the weekend’s fight and work hard on what we’ve noticed, and then put it into practise in another fight, is great,” Hopman said.