Five weeks later he fights for the WBC Muaythai welterweight title.
“This is my dream. I’ve been working towards this for 20 years,” says the 23-year-old.
The Phuket-based fighter has fought and beaten the world’s best to bring him to this – the pinnacle of the sport.
Today Collins has an impressive record of 60 fights with 46 wins, 12 losses and two draws. He was left little choice in terms of career path as the son of a former professional boxer and Muay Thai gym owner. He began training with his father in Australia’s Gold Coast aged just three and had his inaugural fight eight years later. “A memory I’ll never forget,” he recalls.
Aged 16 with a promising youth career, Collins flew to Phuket in 2012 for his first “elbow fight” at Bangla Stadium aged 16. Although it wasn’t until 2016 that he landed a key sponsor in Qest Environments and was able to move to Thailand to train at the gym of the legendary Sangtiennoi – a former Lumpinee, Rajadamnern and WBC champion himself.
Collins hit the ground running as a Thailand resident, beating former Lumpinee and Rajadamnern champion, Pakorn P.K. on the televised MX MUAY XTREME on December 23, 2016.
In August 2017, he made his debut at Bangkok’s prestigious Rajadamnern Stadium — the largest Muay Thai stadium in the country, built during World War Two. He fought an intoxicating war and earned an unexpected win against the highly regarded Rajadamnern and WBC champion, Seksan Or. Kwanmuang.
The crowd of almost 8,000, led by the punters, started to vocalize when at 60 seconds into the second round, Collins broke Seksan's nose with a devastating downward elbow that gave the latter visible discomfort for the remainder of the five-round fight.
By round three, most of the crowd were on their feet, largely cheering on the foreign challenger as if he were their own. By round four the noise was deafening. When an underdog performs well, the punters get loud as a lot more money is exchanged.
A fight that Collins describes as one of his most memorable to date; it's one that would make anybody a Chadd Collins fan. (Link at the bottom.)
The win lifted the fighter’s profile and placed him firmly onto the radar of the sport’s top brass.
Collins was invited to fight at Rajadamnern again with only a month to recover and train for what would be another defining moment in his career.
He was set to fight the 147 lbs Rajadamnern champion at the time, Sakmongkol Sor Sommai, but the title was not at stake.
Nevertheless, Collins went in guns blazing, relentlessly pressing forward until the third round when a perfectly placed elbow had the revered champion stretchered out of the ring.
The Aussie’s push for a title shot was now hard to ignore after putting to sleep the man regarded as the best 147 pounder on the planet.
However, fight matching in Muay Thai is a complex business and the best fighters don’t always get the top fights; especially when they’re foreign.
Scores of world-class foreign fighters have travelled far and wide to prove themselves worthy of challenging for arguably the two most prestigious belts in the sport – those of Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadiums.
Only a handful have been given the opportunity and only three foreign fighters have won the coveted Lumpinee Stadium belt since the venue opened in 1956.
Yet with no excuse left to deny him a title shot, Collins was finally given the opportunity to fight for the Lumpinee belt three months later on Boxing Day (December 26) 2017, against world champion French fighter, Rafi Bohic.
But fate had other plans for Collins as he developed a blood infection and had to fly to Australia for treatment, nullifying what was to be the fight he had worked towards his whole career.
In combat sports such as Muay Thai, relevance is vital, and to remain relevant one must fight consistently, taking every opportunity as it comes. Thus Collins had to prove himself again upon his return to good health, and prove himself he did.
He moved to Phuket to train at the respected Sitsongpeenong gym. Having grown up on the Gold Coast, his main hobbies other than Muay Thai were spear fishing and surfing – hobbies he is delighted to be able to resume on the tropical island.
His acclaimed win over Sakmongkol may have been regarded as a fluke by some as after several impressive comeback performances the two were matched again at Rajadamnern Stadium in August 2018, again with no title on the line.
A fluke it most certainly was not, as the Aussie replicated his first performance against the champion with another third-round knockout through an elbow, finished with an uppercut. Sakmongkol was again stretchered out of the ring he reigned over.
Surely another title fight had been earned, or not yet.
Collins pressed on. Two big wins in Tokyo this year, first against Japanese Muay Thai champion Fukashi Mizutani, and the second, a shoot boxing fight against Japan’s shoot boxing world champion, Kaito Ono, had him become somewhat a celebrity in Tokyo.
Finally, the inevitable knock on the door came again from 2018 promoter of the year at Lumpinee Stadium – Suk Petch Numnoi promotions – as Collins was handed another title shot at Lumpinee.
On Tuesday, June 18, he is set to fight Brazilian Luis Cajaiba for the vacant 154 lbs belt in what will be the first time two foreign fighters fight for a Lumpinee title. Five weeks later he will fight in Australia for the WBC Muaythai 147 lbs crown.
“Training is starting to get intense now,” he says.
Only this week, Sitsongpeenong Phuket boss Tim Fisher released a statement announcing the gym’s separation from the Sitsongpeenong brand that originates from the Bangkok gym– a gym that has had great success with world number one ranked fighter, Glory Kickboxing champion, Sittichai.
After six successful years as ambassadors of the brand, starting from humble beginnings in a friend’s backyard in Kamala, Phuket, the gym has rebranded as The Revolution Gym Phuket, with their vast array of world-class fighters joining the Revolution Fight Team.
“Training here enables me to learn from the best. My pad holder is the legendary Sagadpet, a two-time Lumpinee champion and Rajadamnern champion who was known as the hardest kicker in Muay Thai. All of the trainers at the gym are former world champions,” Collins says.
Fisher is confident that his fighter will bring home the belts. “Chadd has everything he needs to succeed. Here at The Revolution Gym, we have advanced facilities that cater to the highest level athletes. We have world renown trainers, dedicated strength and conditioning and dietary professionals, advanced fitness facilities and even Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”
The fighter now embarks on the toughest and most important two months of his life. Living at the gym with his girlfriend Kirstie and their dog Bella, he trains several hours a day, six days a week, “Digging so deep just to get through each and every session,” as he describes.
Collins’ achievements have been nothing short of exceptional and his supporters around the world will be watching on June 18 confident that the fighter will go down in history nine days after his 24th birthday.