Lion Fight 40 will mark the debut of the organization’s North American title, specifically the light heavyweight honor with New York City rivals Brett Hlavacek and Elijah “The Mayor” Clarke squaring off in the matchup. Their clash is a main-card feature on the Lion Fight 40 event taking place on Saturday, Feb. 3 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
“We have contemplated a secondary level of championship bouts for some time,” explained Scott Kent, CEO of Lion Fight Promotions.
“Foremost in our planning, whatever we ultimately decided to do could not detract or lessen the prestige of winning a Lion Fight world title. The North American title fights won’t be for fighters who want to run around collecting meaningless belts.
“What the Lion Fight North American title fights do is give fighters a mid-range target to shoot for – a real meaningful reward for those fighters who are between being a prospect and being a world champion.
“I think we will see a number of very good fighters compete for Lion Fight North American titles in the near future, and hopefully that will keep them trending upward towards a world title fight.”
Both Hlavacek and Clarke were eager to get the opportunity especially having the distinction of being the first to compete for the new title.
“I’m so excited to be fighting for the new Lion Fight North American belt,” said Hlavacek. “It’s going to be the fight of the night, no doubt.”
For Hlavacek, the NA title fight also marks a move to a new weight division as he goes down from cruiserweight to light heavyweight. The Brooklyn-based fighter found a fair bit of success at 185 lbs., but then suffered back-to-back gut-wrenching decision losses to now-champion Chip Moraza-Pollard and former challenger Paul Banasiak. Under the tutelage of trainer Dan Anderson, Hlavacek believes he can be better at the 170-pound limit.
“He’s in much better physical shape along with being quicker, and I think his power is going to be much more noticeable at light heavyweight,” said Anderson, who guided Hlavacek through a decision win over Timothy Woods at Lion Fight 38.
Clarke made a successful Lion Fight debut back in October with a thorough decision win over Juan Jackson. He, too, was excited about the competing for the organization’s new crown.
“This is the biggest fight of my career and to be the first to fight for the Lion Fight North American title is such an honor,” said Clarke.
“I wake up thinking of this fight. Everything I do is to lead up to this fight.”
The showdown for the North American title turns out to be a rematch as well with Hlavacek getting the better of Clarke in a fight two years ago. A lot has changed since but Hlavacek remains confident he’ll pull out the victory a second time.
“I’m very excited for this rematch with Elijah,” said Hlavacek. “The first time we fought it was the Fight of the Night. I’m pretty close with him but fighting is work and it’s time to go to work.”
The Hlavacek-Clarke tilt is topped by two world title bouts on the Lion Fight 40 card. In the night’s main event, reigning Lion Fight world cruiserweight champion Chip “The Surgeon” Moraza-Pollard puts his belt on the line against Slava “Scarface” Alexeichik. And in the co-main event, Lion Fight will crown a new world lightweight champion as Thai legend Lerdsila PhuketTopTeam takes on Alexi “Phet” Serepisos.
The lineup for Lion Fight 40 also features numerous fan favorites including power-punching super cruiserweight Steve “Put Em To Sleep” Walker, plus the return of lightweight “The Don” Julio Pena, and bouts featuring top prospects Mike Triana, Cris Mims, and Brian Bogue.
Tickets for Lion Fight 40 are available at www.foxwoods.com/Lion-Fight.