By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
When knockout candidates AJ Veriato and Kawika Palakiko get together at a Toughman Hawaii forum, they become good trading partners, giving each other lumps and bloody noses, and providing a bipartisan crowd jolly, good fun.
They went on a red-soaked campaign a year ago, punching each other and delivering kicks that would turn an alligator into a pair of shoes. Veriato was voted the victor with a three-round decision, leaving the ring with hematoma on his foot — that he gave himself by kicking Palakiko so hard.
On a salivated Saturday, the two will rematch at Toughman Xtreme, promoter Wally Carvalho’s latest platform to please all political fighting parties. There’s kickboxing for those accustomed to the traditional Toughman style of yore.
There will be boxing and mixed martial arts, the related but different forms of entertainment that promise the same grand enterprise, like a KO, even if there’s lots of non-action clinching or bear hugs on the floor — in the manner of political treadmill filibuster.
Mindful that blood could flow faster with a few tweaks, Carvalho has added xtreme MMA, where kickboxers will wear the smaller MMA gloves, all the better to grab an opponent’s head and blast off a few rounds of sharp elbows.
Like a politician with a permanent smile, the Toughman promoter was in a splendid mood one fine, recent day. He was hanging his 20 foot by 20 foot poster — more eye-catching than any front-yard candidate’s sign — on Hilo Civic’s gigantic wall, talking up a storm about his card.
“The last time Veriato and Palakiko fought they each went down three times,” he said. “It’s a huge rematch. The last time it was a war. They were banging each other like there was no tomorrow.
“It’ll be like that again, guarantee. Those guys are two lions. Each wants to eat the other for dinner.”
Another alligator bout that had Carvalho licking his chops is the rematch between Hilo’s Toby Misech and Oahu’s Mike Balasi.
It was 2009 at Honolulu’s Neal Blaisdell Arena, when the two met in boxing. Balasi won in spectacular fashion, and like a politician with an elephant’s memory Carvalho recalls the fight with clarity. He was there as a state-licensed cutman.
“Mike is a top-ranked Hawaii pro boxer. The fight was unreal,” he said. “Toby ran out of gas. He was completely dehydrated. He was probably ahead in points in the third round.
“But he got punched and fell through the ropes. They had to carry him out of the ring. He had nothing left in the tank.”
It’ll be kickboxing, so Misech can take liberty kicking Balasi in the head or stomach at each advance. In the arena of free exchange, the Oahu challenger can do the same. There’s a wobbly video on YouTube that shows Balasi’s handiwork.
Carvalho calls Balasi the “Filipino phenom.” He grew up in Kalihi, where breathing the air supposedly makes a fighter tough and adds steel to the bones. Like a politician crossing his fingers, the promoter hopes a parliamentary group attends the card.
“It was a phenomenal back-and-forth fight between them,” Carvalho said. “We’re going to add kickboxing for them and take it to another level. I’m hoping the Filipino community comes out to watch this fight.”
There will also be a Masters division boxing title match between Dave “Mad Dog” Motta and David “Hurricane” Carter.
It’ll be a trilogy fight. And proving that controversy and old-boy grudges apply to areas outside of politics, the battle between the tough, old guys is filled with all sorts of propaganda.
Carter won a “controversial” first title fight. Then in the rematch, it was a tournament and Motta had to fight twice, losing to Carter for the title again.
“Motta thought he won the first one hands down,” Carvalho said. “He should have won. Carter clearly won the second time after Motta had to fight twice in same night.
“Motta has been constantly training. Carter hasn’t been in action the last few years. He decided to go for the title again. He figures he beat the guy twice and will take the title home. We’ll make this trilogy happen on Saturday night and it should be a good one.”