The fourth Air KBZ Aung Lan Golden Belt Championship, typically a kryptonite event for Lethwei champions, will see out the year with a bang. Literally.

Openweight Lethwei champion Dave Leduc will return for his fifth title defense on 10 December when he faces Frenchman Corentin Jallon in Yangon.

Leduc will return to the tournament where he won the title by defeating Tun Tun Min, who had won it from Saw Nga Man on the same stage. Leduc said he is returning to break that spell.

“This time I keep the belt,” Leduc said.

The 34-year Jallon comes to the bout with some 55 fights under his belt, including 33 wins, 17 KOs and 15 losses. A WKN K1 champion, he typically fights at around 95kg and is known for his solid striking.

“Fighting him is gonna be like a crocodile bringing a gazelle in the water. Welcome to Lethwei,” Leduc added.


The Rise of Lethwei

It’s been quite the year for Leduc, who currently trains out of Thailand, but will soon make the move to Myanmar.

Earlier this year he retained his title after a five-round war with American kickboxer and former title holder Cyrus Washington.

“Cyrus Washington was a real challenge. I did not take him lightly. I trained hard for that match, because he fought against the top fighters in the world and did great fights against previous Lethwei champions.

“But, like I have been telling you guys, I am not like the other fighters. He was running away from me the whole fight. I am the King of Lethwei.”

Modern Galdiators Dave Leduc Lethwei

Modern Galdiators: Lethwei requires no gloves and allows headbutts.

Leduc’s rise has also come at a time of renewed interest in the traditional art of Burmese bareknuckle boxing. And thing are just getting started, the world champ said.

“It is not easy to step in the ring and fight, especially in Myanmar Lethwei, the most brutal striking art in the world,” he added.

“I am truly honoured by the interest given to Lethwei from all the nations around the world. Our traditional sport has been completely exploding in popularity in the last year, since my first fight at the 1st Myanmar Lethwei World Championship. It is only the beginning.”