Thursday, November 17, 2011

by popular request: handicapping (sorta) ElkY vs RaSZi

I guess since I am now perceived as some sort of fight expert by the poker community (spoiler: I'm not), people keep asking me my opinion about the ElkY vs RaSZi* kickboxing match next week. So in this post I'll concede to trying to break down a fight with very incomplete knowledge. I've trained with ElkY, but I've never seen Lex train, fight, or do anything more physically active than reaching for chips. Moreover, because I trained with ElkY, I'm biased; I want him to win.

But ElkY has been training hard. I sparred with him a little bit at EPT Madrid in April when he first started out with his Lincon, his current trainer, and I also sparred with him a little last month in Cannes. Unsurprisingly, the difference was very significant. He's able to put strikes together, move forward, and counterpunch now. More importantly, he never seemed to mind getting hit. In Madrid he was very inexperienced and we were going light, but even then he didn't mind being hit and kept coming forward. But in Cannes, I definitely cracked him a couple of times and he had no problem with it. Amongst novice fighters, the willingness to be hit and keep moving forward makes a big difference.

According to Lex's blog, Lex had 18 months of boxing training when he was a teenager. That's of some value but not a lot, since he's now 27. It seems like his training has also been hampered by injuries up until a few months ago when he finally got healthy two months ago. Since then, he has been training "a few times a week."

If one could be assured that Lex is telling the full truth and not underselling himself, I definitely like ElkY's side given this information. Lincon has ElkY training virtually every morning and has him eating well. Over a 5-round fight, I really have to think ElkY has a major cardio advantage, although Lex being more experienced in fights means he'll be a little less likely to adrenaline dump. But as far as I can tell, ElkY has been training consistently for six months and Lex has been training off and on for two months.

Lex points out in the blog that Elky's "coordination seems a bit bad and I don't think he is a natural athlete." To this, I will admit that yes, I've seen him in the ring and he's not going to dazzle with Muhammad Ali footwork. But he is very well trained. Lincon is a very good, technical trainer with a great attitude. So I know ElkY knows his fundamentals. He doesn't have to look great. All he really has to do is tuck his chin, keep his hands up, and throw strikes, and I think he's going to do that. Athleticism is often what separates guys at the elite level, but we're talking about two very raw guys. And when we're talking about two such guys, I favour the guy who has been working harder and has gotten consistent, professional training. Maybe Lex is a better natural athlete. Maybe if he weren't playing Starcraft and poker he'd be greater than Ernesto Hoost and Peter Aerts combined. I'm not denying the importance of athleticism, and maybe I'm biased because I'm not athletically gifted myself, but I'll favour the uncoordinated guy with six months of training over the athletic guy with two.

I feel there's one last advantage that ElkY has, and that is surprising toughness. As I said, even when he was very unskilled, he didn't mind getting hit and continued staying aggressive. The rules of the fight dictate that if no one is KOd or TKOd or quits, then the fight is a draw. I think ElkY is tough enough that this makes it a partial freeroll. Neither guy likely has enough power at this stage to KO the other unless someone really gets their hands low and chin up. And I don't think ElkY will quit because of the toughness I've mentioned. So his only path to losing is that he is taking so much damage that the ref is forced to stop the fight. And unless Lex lands some serious bombs early, it seems unlikely he has the gas tank to accrue that level of damage.

I'd be very surprised if Lex hasn't undersold himself just a little bit and he's probably a bit more trained than he's let on. Not because he wants to hustle bettors (the bet with ElkY is already very big), but just to manage expectations. Normally I don't buy into anything fighters say about how their training is going, but with less experienced guys and guys who aren't super-serious fighters, I think there is less bravado, posturing, and "I'm in the best shape of my life!!!!111" talk.

So yeah, I've put down my $1000 down on ElkY. Mostly just a bet for fun, and to show a bit of support, but I do think there's some edge. In any case I just hope it's a good fight and that they'll continue to train, improve themselves and find as much joy as I've found in the combat sports.

Official Prediction: ElkY by 4th round TKO

And with that, I'm off to my own gym!


  1. Thats what i said. Lex undersells himself and elky gets bludgered to a bloody pulp.

  2. Hi Terrance. Been following your blog for a while now and I have a few questions for you if you have the time to answer them. Could you email me at

    thanks so much always nice to see a Vancouver native doing well