MANILA -- A novel combat sports organization is set to give more aspiring Filipino fighters their much-deserved spotlight.
TNT Kickboxing 1: Tunay Na Tigas will commence on Saturday, June 24 at the Filoil Ecooil Centre in San Juan, hoping to start a sustainable platform for professional Filipino kickboxers.
"I've always wanted to set the stage for our professional athletes to compete in a highly competitive environment," TNT Sports and Action Entertainment, Inc. CEO Miguel Consing said during the pre-event press conference on Saturday in Poblacion, Makati.
"There are many high-level strikers in the Philippines. I've been watching many athletes for a long time now, and I've noticed that what stands out is their striking."
Headlining the debut fight card is the bout between Arsenio "The Assassin" Balisacan and Ferdinand "The Psychopath" Aquino while in the co-main event are Manuel "Black Panther" Delos Reyes and Kervin "El Conqueror" Lampacan.
Also part of the proceedings is Filipino MMA veteran Rex "T-Rex" De Lara, who most recently saw action in URCC 84: Rage last April.
The entire fight card will consist of 10 matches in total and shall follow rules similar to K-1 Kickboxing.
Tickets are priced from P399 to P1,999 while the event will also be streamed live via Vivamax Plus pay-per-view.
"We haven't had the opportunity to give our strikers a high-level platform to compete. What we want to do is to show the world that we have (such talents)," Consing added.
"They worked really hard. They don't just compete but they have their daily lives to begin with. They are willing to train, fight, and entertain all of us. That is tunay na tigas. They are all warriors and we want to honor them by giving them the best possible stage to fight on."
Public relations head James Gutierrez said the idea of putting up TNT was conceived as early as 2021. A taekwondo black belter himself, Gutierrez ensured the promotion can co-exist with other local stables in the boxing and MMA scenes.
"There are some fantastic organizations here, lots of them boxing and MMA. We will always give credit to other organizations who have paved the way," Gutierrez said.
"What we are trying to build is a super highway. We're not just going to build roads. We are going to make a splash. From a casual fan to a die-hard fan, we're excited to get kickboxing in front of many more eyes."
After TNT Kickboxing 1, the promotion will stage two more events for 2023. The organization's road map states that there will be a total of 16 events until 2026, and two TNT Fight Cons which seek to gather everyone in the combat sports industry, including fighters, promoters, and fans.
The announcement of a professional kickboxing promotion comes a few weeks after the Philippines' impressive kickboxing medal haul of three golds, four silvers, and eight bronzes at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia.
Both Consing and Gutierrez cannot wait to hit the ground running a few weeks from now and are optimistic about the future of the sport in the local industry.
"We have excellent fighters. They are very fun to watch. Kickboxing is fun and exciting to watch," Consing said.
"We know we are a boxing country. But we haven't had the chance to truly showcase what Filipino fighters can do. We want to make the Philippines a fight destination," Gutierrez added.
"Fighting is something we are truly good at, and kickboxing is one of those we want to showcase. We want to start giving these fighters an opportunity. To be part of that is rewarding."