By Jake Smith
The 22nd installment of Superior Challenge takes place on May 29th. The seven bout card features four IMMAF alumni who all feature in fights which will undoubtedly shake up the Superior Challenge 170lbs division.
Englishman, Tom ‘The Viking’ Crosby competes for the Superior Challenge Welterweight Championship when he faces European MMA veteran Hakon Foss.
Prior to joining the professional game, ‘The Viking’ spent almost half of his amateur career fine tuning his craft at IMMAF tournaments. Crosby first displayed his talent at the 2016 World Championships. After defeating Marius Cantoneru and Pavel Salčák, Crosby found himself in an IMMAF quarter final at the first time of asking against American, Dallas Jennings. The bout ultimately ended up being nullified after the event due to Jennings committing an anti-doping violation.
Crosby’s next IMMAF appearance would come at the 2016 European Open, with the then 7-3-0 amateur looking to better his result from the Worlds. After 2 unanimous decision victories over Juho Laitinen and Kim Andreas Zachariassen, he faced reigning European gold medalist Rostem Akman in the Semi-final. Although not getting the result, Crosby took home a Bronze medal after going the distance with the Akman who would go on to retain his crown. Crosby crossed over to the professional game following the 2017 European Open and a narrow split-decision defeat against that year’s gold medalist, Italy’s Dario Bellandi
Although having competed 8 times as a professional, this will be the first overseas trip for the Brit. Crosby believes his IMMAF days not only helped him develop as an athlete but added to his psychological side of the game too. He said: “Competing at IMMAFs was a great experience and competing against the best amateurs in the world has set me up for competing back to back days and built me up mentally.”
Crosby is looking to pull out the performance of his career as he is all too aware of what a big showing on the Superior Challenge stage can produce. He explained: “It’s a massive opportunity, it’s a big title fight on one of the best shows in Europe. I jumped at the chance because early on in my amateur days I cornered Danny Mitchell at Superior Challenge 9. After a good win on the show, he got to the UFC.
“On Saturday, the roles are reversed, Danny is in my corner and I’m looking to replicate what he achieved after his Superior Challenge appearance.”
Robin ‘Pretty Boy’ Roos has been a regular feature on Superior Challenge cards having previously competed on three of their shows, racking up a 2-1 record in the promotion. He will look to take a step closer to a shot at Superior Challenge Welterweight gold when he faces Martin Hudson on Saturday night.
Roos’ IMMAF journey started at the 2018 European Open Championships. Having amassed a 12-4 amateur record prior to testing himself on the IMMAF stage, there were plenty of eyes on the Swede going into the tournament. After a third round TKO against John Byrnes, Roos secured a quarter final slot where he faced 9-1 Yann Liasse of Luxembourg. Both men, vastly experienced as strikers and not strangers to grinding out victories, battled over a tough three rounds of standup action in which Liasse walked away victorious.
‘Pretty Boy’s’ second and final showing on an IMMAF stage came later that year at the World Championships. As in his Euros opening bout, Roos’ power was back on display when he claimed a second round KO/TKO win over Oscar Diaz on day one, a devastating headkick capped off the toying performance. He faced IMMAF debutant Talor Wetere on day two, and cruised to a unanimous decision victory. Top Frenchman and multi-time world silver medalist Axel Sola put an end to Roos’ tournament on day three after the duo went back and forth in a nail-biting split-decision contest.
Elsewhere on the card, Niko Skonbäck will take on Moraad Moreno. Riding a three fight win streak going into his Superior Challenge debut, Skonbäck will be hoping to continue the best form of his professional career and come away with a big victory that could move him to the top end of the division.The longer rounds in the professional ranks appear to suit the Finn as he is yet to hear the final bell across his current 3-fight win streak
Skonbäck made his IMMAF debut as a 1-0-0 amateur at the 2017 European Open. Unfortunately for the Finn, he was dumped out of the tournament on day one, losing to perennial top contender, Belgium’s Issa Isakov, via a unanimous decision. Not deterred, he was back at the 2017 World Championships. On the first day of the tournament, he faced Axel Karlsson. Skonbäck had his hand raised after the doctor waved the bout off in the second round. He then faced one of the tournament’s favourites to earn a medal, Yann Liasse. 7-0 at the time, the undefeated Liasse was undoubtedly the biggest test of Skonbäck’s young career.
Skonbäck shocked the tournament and handed Liasse the first loss of his amateur career. His final amateur, and IMMAF, bout came in the quarter finals of the tournament, when he was edged out by Axel Sola.
In addition, 1-0 Swede Christian Stigenberg faces debutant Christopher Bajo in a bout which could see the next new star at Welterweight emerge.
Christian Stigenberg’s introductory IMMAF tournament was the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA European Championships, at the senior level. In the first round, the Welterweight drew the most experienced opposition he had faced at that time, in the form of Rusi Minev and the Bulgarian’s experience proved too much and Stigenberg at the time, who crashed out on Day 1 of the tournament, with Minev going on to take home a bronze.
Five short months later, Stigenberg was back on the IMMAF platform, competing at the 2019 IMMAF World Championships. On day one of the tournament, he faced Janus Olsen and collected a split decision victory. Julian Schickle was up next and Stigenberg walked away victorious by way of unanimous decision. Day three pitched him against Russia’s unbeaten Rustam Khadisgadzhiev. Khadisgadzhiev proved to be too much for Stigenberg and would go on to earn bronze after bettering Sweden’s man across all 3 scorecards.
The final three bouts on the Superior Challenge 22 are made up of Kenneth Bergh vs Antonia Trocoli, Fernando Flores vs Simon Skold & Karl Albrektsson vs Vladimir Mishchenko.