Who the f*#k is Nieky Holzken?
Holland may be known for shitty green beer and dikes, however for a lifelong fan of martial arts like myself the Netherlands is best known for producing some of the greatest, most successful and ruthless strikers ever in the history of combat sports.
Alistair Overeem, Ernesto Hoost, Bas Rutten, Badr Hari, Cor Hemmers, Peter Aerts, Gokhan Saki, Tyrone Spong… the list goes on and on.
And the most famous kickboxer of them all Ramon The Diamond Dekkers, eight time World Muay Thai champion.
Dekkers is one of very few westerners to travel to Thailand and beat the Thais at their own game, dismantling many of Thailand’s most renowned fighters from the late 1980s and much of the ‘90s. Dekkers is arguably the fighter who most influenced the Dutch style.
Dutch Style kickboxing as it is commonly known was heavily influenced by both Kyokushin Full Contact Karate and Muay Thai, a hallmark of the Dutch style is it’s aggression, speed and reliance on strong boxing fundamentals.
The Netherlands has, as mentioned above produced a slew of talented, vicious well rounded strikers and it is from within this cauldron that birthed one the best among them Nieky Holzken.
Born 16 December 1983, Holzken made his professional kickboxing debut in 2006 fighting in the Japanese based K-1 promotion as well as Glory Kickboxing based in Europe. Both promotions are a tournament style format that would pit the best strikers in various disciplines against one another under unified rules.
Holzken was a former WFCA Welterweight champion, K-1 MAX North American champion, SIMTA 72 kg Champion, and the Glory Kickboxing Welterweight champion.
Holzken is the most experienced fighter over all in the whole tournament, and that goes for the Cruiserweights as well!
Holzken holds a record of 90W-14L-1NC with 46 KOs.
Holzken made the jump to pro boxing in 2013 intermittently fighting in both sports. Currently his pro boxing record is unblemished at 13W-0, with 10 KOs.
So if my math is correct Nieky Holzken has 118 professional fights under his belt, the majority of which are in tournament style formats where Holzken would be forced to fight more than once in a night with 3 times the weapons coming at him - two feet, two fists and knees depending on the rule set.
Prince of Darkness
So why Nieky Holzken? Why has he been selected to take Braehmer’s place?
The WBSS has a decidedly Eurocentric feel to it, promoted by brothers Kalle & Nisse Sauerland based out of Germany Holzken is a natural fit thanks to the popularity and ubiquity of kickboxing events in Holland, France and Germany, Holzken is a recognizable name. To American fans of combat sports besides the UFC and boxing Holzken is a virtual icon, I myself have practiced one of his signature combos on the bag and sparring partners - jab-cross, rear roundhouse leg kick - step - rear knee to the body.
As I mentioned before, a hallmark of the Dutch style is the fluidity of his boxing and excellent footwork.
Nieky’s boxing technique looks a lot like Lomachenko - or maybe it’s the other way around - Lomachenko employs the Dutch Hand Trap, a technique somewhat controversial to the boxing purist but to an individual who has trained in Muay Thai/Kickboxing it is easily recognized and perfectly legal.
When their opponent shells up with a high guard both Lomachenko and Holzken will reach across with one glove, stripping their opponents glove down exposing their opponent’s head and throwing the lead hook.
Another fundamental technique of the Dutch style is murderous body punching. Holzken excels at this as well and has a multitude of KOs via the left hook to the liver that would make both Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and Bas Rutten proud.
By contrast Callum Mundo Smith, from the popular Smith family based out of Liverpool is a relative novice. Smith is regarded generally as the best boxer of the Smith family and at 6’3” cuts an imposing figure. He is currently 23-0 with 17 KOs many coming in the first round. He is a long, sinewy fighter with a tremendous straight right.
His record however impressive at first blush is largely window dressing. He has not ventured outside of Britain/Ireland in his whole career, his best wins are against domestic level opponents like Rocky Fielding and Smith’s first opponent in the WBSS, Erik Skoglund whom Smith beat in the quarter finals. Smith put in a workmanlike performance and though he won clearly Skoglund himself never ventured out of the confines of the Swedish boxing scene before facing Smith and has no wins of note himself.
Smith has 2 ½ inch height advantage and is seven years younger. The kickboxing world that Holzken comes from is far more brutal on the body than boxing, so it can be argued there are more miles on Holzken as well.
However as I have enumerated in all the areas that matter, experience, toughness, aggression, power, ring IQ Holzken wins handedly. Add to that from a technical perspective Smith looked quite ragged and hitable in his win against Skoglund last September.
I’m afraid Scousers will be filling up their empty beer glasses with their own tears when Nieky Holzken stops Callum Smith this coming Saturday with a left hook to the jaw or liver between round 6-9.
There will be no defense, you will not be able to plead ignorance.
You have been warned.