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Park doesn't feel different following title win

 

May 1, 2019

Harvey Park may be on top of the world, but his feet are planted firmly on it.

Park, a 33-year-old Clovis resident, won the Legacy Fighting Alliance’s Lightweight Championship on Friday, earning a technical knockout of Demarques Jackson.

Yet Park feels like the same man who stepped into the Sanford Pentagon cage in Sioux Falls, South Dakota before the mixed martial arts bout.

“It doesn’t feel any different,” he said Monday. “The fight is over, nothing’s changed. I’m just living life, you know?”

Of course, he liked winning the belt.

“That’s the thing about fighting, (the wins) all feel great,” he said. “The highs are so high; it’s the best feeling in the world to win. Everybody’s patting you on the back, buying you drinks. And losing is the worst feeling in the world. The only calls you’re getting are from your mom and your grandma.”

Park is originally from Downey, California, but moved to Curry County as a young child and grew up in Melrose. After serving in the Navy, he settled in Clovis and began MMA training at the age of 23.

It was a 10-year climb toward winning Friday’s championship, which came relatively quickly after he finally stepped into the cage with a title at stake. In the first round of their fight for the vacant LFA Lightweight crown, the 6’0” 155.8-pound Park and the 5’8” 164-pound Jackson circled around each other, taking swipes and kicks.

“It looked like Harvey was trying to get (Jackson’s) distance down,” said Eric Suan, Park’s trainer and owner of Force of One Martial Arts in Clovis. “(Park) took a lot of shots, he blocked a couple of takedowns.”

“He was faster than I expected him to be,” Park said of Jackson. “It took me a little bit to get his timing. I got caught with more punches than I usually do. Once I got his timing and his distance, it went about how I expected it to.”

Still in the first round, Park landed a right cross that seemed to sting Jackson. A flurry of punches followed before Park grabbed hold of Jackson, who tried to escape his opponent’s grasp. Park wouldn’t let him go and flung him to the cage floor. Park flopped on Jackson and went to work pounding on his head for several seconds.

At 4:58 of the first round, the referee stopped it. And Clovis’ Harvey Park was the new LFA Lightweight Champion.

“It was awesome,” Park said. “It’s always awesome to win.”

“It was a great feeling at that moment,” Suan said. “You’re not thinking about the belt ... but when it actually gets put on his waist, it’s like a dream come true.”

Park said he didn’t get overconfident, even when he seemed to be taking control of the fight. There was only one point when he knew victory was assured.

“At four minutes and 58 seconds of the first round,” he said.

Just prior to that, Park knew the round was nearly over and Jackson was still in it.

“They sound that 10-second clacker,” Park said. “If he made it out of that round, it would’ve been that I won one round and there would’ve been four more rounds to go. And he could’ve won three and won the fight. Until the ref stopped the fight, I didn’t know. ... It could’ve gone four more rounds. I didn’t think, ‘Oh, this fight is over. I got him now.’ I was just like (to myself), ‘You got 10 seconds to finish this.’ And that’s what I was trying to do.”

Park says Jackson’s approach was different than his own. “He does more of a blitzing, unorthodox striking style,” Park said, “and I’m more of a traditional fighter. The difference is, traditional style, when you land your punches they’re really going to hurt.”

Park explained Jackson’s ‘unorthodox’ style as stepping with his left foot, throwing punches with his right hand, or vice versa.

“It’s a faux footwork or counter-footwork, which is not traditional boxing,” Park said. “(Former Ultimate Fighting Champion Women’s Bantamweight titleist) Holly Holm strikes like that. It’s different. There are so many ways to skin a cat, and that’s the way he strikes. Your weight’s not behind your punches, but you can get them off fast.”

After taking care of Jackson, Park can now look ahead. He’s under contract with the LFA, but says there are option clauses to end it, if necessary.

“We’re hoping to get an opportunity to fight in the UFC, and that would be a clause out of it,” Park said. “And if not, we’ll defend the belt. Those are our options, really.”

Suan says the LFA’s previous lightweight champ, Austin Hubbard, went directly to the UFC without ever defending his LFA belt, which was why the lightweight title was vacant in the first place.

Park’s camp is hoping for a similar path.

“We’re looking to go straight to the UFC,” Suan said. “The folks in LFA, they’re pretty sure he can go do bigger and better fights. They said they’re going to endorse us to the max.”

 
 

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