Zimmerman is the Man at K-1 Europe GP
By Monty DiPietro
AMSTERDAM, April 26, 2008 -- Errol Zimmerman of Holland won today's K-1 World GP
'08 Europe Final at the Amsterdam Arena. The 23 year-old kickboxer, who hails
from the respected Golden Glory gym, dispatched three opponents en route to
This was a classic eight-man elimination tournament -- all bouts contested under K-1 Rules (3Min. x 3R w/1RExt.), a quartet of first-tier fights advancing four men to a pair of semis, and the winners there going head-to head in the final.
Zimmerman took his first step on the road to glory by beating Attila Karacs, the Hungarian hero of February's Europe GP Final Elimination in Budapest.
Zimmerman led with hard punches while Karacs put up points with studied one-two-three combinations. The focused Karacs was good with his evasions and counters, and this was shaping up to be quite a battle. But then a cut opened on Karacs' lower leg. The ringside doctor had a look and the fight was called. Karacs bowed his head in frustration, and Zimmerman headed to the semifinals, where he met Swiss K-1 star Bjorn Bregy.
Bregy had met power with power to defeat veteran slugger Jan "The Giant" Nortje of South Africa in his quarterfinal.
After Nortje's spirited start -- leading with low kicks and barreling forward with the fists -- Bregy came back with some hard punches of his own, prompting Nortje to drop his guard and beckon, "Come and get me!"
Bregy went and got him. A couple of straight punches went through and a high kick made partial contact. It appeared to be a left that got the job done, sending the South African down, where he stayed.
But Bregy enjoyed no such success in his semifinal dance with Zimmerman. A tentative start to this one, both men staying back. But in Amsterdam any more than thirty seconds without serious action will elicit serious jeers and whistles from the crowd. As the disapproval decibels rose, the fellows responded by picking up the pace, transforming this into one of the most exciting fights on the night. Bregy went on the warpath, clocking Zimmerman with an overhand right. It was lucky for the stumbling Dutch fighter that he hit the ropes or he might have ended up on his backside. Bregy got the size-based attacks going in the second round, denying Zimmerman a way in, then stepping forward with the jabs, following with knees and uppercuts. After taking a flying overhand, Bregy dropped his guard and invited Zimmerman in to mix it up. Zimmerman obliged, dropping Bregy with a right.
Early in the third it was Zimmerman who lowered the guard and taunted his opponent, and now it was Bregy who accepted the invitation and scored a down. Evened up, the fighters now went for the kill. Bregy put a few solid blows in, but Zimmerman stayed on his feet, then rallied, chasing Bregy with the fists to score a down, and resuming pursuit after resumption. Bregy turned away from the fight, and for doing that he was assessed a standing count. The second down in the round, putting Zimmerman through to the final.
In the final Zimmerman met Belorussian Zabit Samedov. Both fighters tested early with low kicks, Zimmerman stepping in with the right straight punch and missing with the knee; Samedov pressing with fists but off-target with his spinning back kick. In the second, Samedov's footwork and speed served him well as he pounded in a right-left combination; while Zimmerman surprised his opponent with a flying knee. A bit of clinching slowed the action some in the third, before Zimmerman landed several punishing blows. Samedov was fast and aggressive right to the final bell, working a wide variety of punching attacks. A close contest and a majority decision -- the deep disappointment showing on Samedov's face when Zimmerman's hand was raised.
In the other tournament bouts:
Samedov fought in the first quarterfinal matchup, taking on Doug Viney of New Zealand, a 31 year-old boxer who improbably came out of the reserve fight to win last year's K-1 WGP Repechage Tournament in Las Vegas, beating Samedov in the final. This was Samedov's chance for revenge.
Viney broke briskly with the left jab, while Samedov kept the guard high and close and countered with low and high kicks. In the second, Viney rushed his opponent with straight punches but did not connect to effect. The Kiwi continued to absorb hard low kicks, and only just got out of the way of a Samedov high kick. Viney threw a few kicks in the lackluster third, but Samedov's evasions and blocking were sound. Midway through the round, Samedov brought a right hook over the top to score a down, and that was more than enough to put the Belorussian into the semifinals.
In the other quarterfinal, French finesse fighter Freddy Kemayo stepped in against Romanian farmer's son turned rugby player turned K-1 fighter Catalin Morosanu.
Morosanu has professed an admiration for American K-1 slugger Bob Sapp, and he came out tonight looking a lot like the Romanian Beast, swinging the haymakers one after the other. Always good to see an aggressive start, but Kemayo also liked what he saw, as Morosanu's guard was practically nonexistent much of the time. It was scarcely 30 seconds into the fight when Kemayo coolly brought up a knee to catch Morosanu hard on the face, opening a nasty gash and dropping him to the canvas for the KO win.
Alas, it was announced before the semifinals that Freddy Kemayo had suffered injury in the bout and could not continue in the tournament. Taking his place was Brian Douwes of Holland, who had punched down Brit James McSweeny twice in the first round to win the tournament reserve bout.
Douwes vs Samedov had speed, technique and power -- and the crowd loved it. A hard-fought first, Douwes good with a knee and middle kick; Samedov getting punches through and making partial contact with a high kick. In the second the pair repeatedly closed with tight combinations, both giving and getting a good number of hard blows. Great effort falling on strong chins. The third was slower, Douwes the one coming forward, Samedov blocking with a high guard then scoring quickly on counters, clocking his opponent with a right and just missing with a spinning back punch. One card went blue, one red and one had them even, sending the fighters back in for a tiebreaker round.
Here Samedov was the more aggressive, firing in low kicks, pounding at the guard with a high kick and a knee then closing to work the body blows. A strong performance by Samedov, who would finish the day as the tournament's second-best fighter.
With his tournament win, Errol Zimmerman advances to the World GP '08 Final Elimination in Seoul, where the year's final 16, including the world's top fightsport title-holder, three-time and defending K-1 WGP Grand Champion Semmy Schilt of the Netherlands, will pair off for a one-match elimination tournament.
There were two K-1 Superfights and a whole lot more on the card in Amsterdam.
Highly-anticipated was a showdown between a pair of Dutch K-1 stars -- two-time WGP Grand Champion Remy Bonjasky and the always-tough Melvin Manhoef. On a rare literary side note, Bonjasky this week celebrated the release of his authorized biography, "Remy Bonjasky -- God in Japan," by Mabel van den Dungen.
The stocky Manhoef is 15cm/6" shorter than God, but said before the bout that he had trained to overcome the height disadvantage. This he did, deftly ducking under Bonjasky's high kicks and answering with body blows, stepping past the low kicks, and, when Bonjasky threw middle kicks, grabbing the leg and pushing forward to deliver a punch. Bonjasky had his flying knees, but Manhoef was equally belligerent with flying punches, and the crowd had to admire his spunk. Late in the first Bonjasky overwhelmed his opponent with leaping legs for one down, then delivered a kick to the midsection to score another. In the second a refreshed Manhoef threatened again on counters, but Bonjasky scored a down with a knee and had Manhoef looking beat at the bell.
But Manhoef came out hard again in the third, launching a spinning back kick and meeting Bonjasky's high kicks with his duck and counter tactic. There were times throughout when it looked like Manhoef had rattled Bonjasky, but in the end it was the more experienced fighter who stayed on his feet, and Manhoef who went down, twice in the third, to force a referee stop. A thrilling contest and well-deserved win for Bonjasky.
In another Superfight it was a couple of muay thai fighters -- 22 year old Tyrone Spong of Suriname, and K-1 veteran Azem Maksutaj of Switzerland.
Maksutaj took the initiative, charging in with fists and low kicks, but a patient Spong soon found his form, launching hard low kicks and just missing with a high kick. Maksutaj's positioning and movement kept him out of trouble until he got caught on the ropes, and Spong brought up a knee to score a down. Spong had Maksutaj reeling late in the round, but the Swiss fighter was saved by the bell.
Both fighters threw low kicks to start the second, Spong showing impressive power. Again Maksutaj got caught, and this time it was a right kick to the midsection that felled him. He did not beat the count.
The K-1 Europe GP was complemented by the Dutch fight promotion "It's Showtime," bringing the total number of bouts on the day to nineteen.
"It's Showtime" featured a number of K-1 fighters:
Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand beat Moroccan Faldir Chahbari by decision; Armenian muay thai fighter Drago out-pointed Warren Stevelmans of Holland; and Dutch kickboxer Gokhan Saki surprised Paul Slowinski of Australia with a right to score a first-round down, then finished the '07 Europe GP Champion with a left cross to win by KO.
In other fights, Sem Braan beat Alexandre Cosmo by decision; Perry Ubeda KO'd Stephan Tapilatu; Georgio Petrosyn out-pointed Chris Ngimbi; and Nieky Holzken KO'd Joerie Mes.
In undercard action it was Robin van Rosemalen over Hammadi Mahdaoui and Rico Verhoven bettering Christiano Delgado, both by decision.
The K-1 World Grand Prix '08 Europe Final attracted a sellout crowd of some 20,000 to the Amsterdam Arena and was broadcast live across Japan on the Fuji TV network. For international live and time-delay broadcast scheduling, consult local providers. Check with the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Hari Shocks Sefo Schilt wins in Yokohama
By Monty DiPietro
AMSTERDAM, April 25, 2008 -- The springtime weather vacillates in Amsterdam, and
today a powerful storm arrived from the East. It's the new generation of
fighters from Belarus, Hungary and Romania, here to challenge Western Europe's
domination of the K-1 World Grand Prix.
The competitiveness of Central and Eastern European fighters was confirmed at the K-1 Europe Elimination in Budapest this February. In tomorrow's K-1 World GP '08 Europe Final at the Amsterdam Arena, the arrivistes aim to prove they can beat the best.
The K-1 World GP '08 Europe Final is a classic eight-man elimination tournament, all bouts contested under K-1 Rules (3Min. x 3R w/1RExt.). A quartet of first-tier fights advance four men to the semis, and the winners there go head-to head in the final.
Yesterday and today, participating fighters shared their thoughts with local and international media at the Claus Event Center in Hoofddorp.
The first tournament matchup features Doug Viney of New Zealand, a 31 year-old boxer who came out of the reserve fight to emerge as the improbable winner of last year's K-1 WGP Repechage Tournament in Las Vegas. Viney beat Zabit Samedov in the final. The Belorussian has vowed revenge.
"I trained hard and I feel great," said Samedov. "I still think I did enough to beat Doug the Vegas fight," said Samedov, "and I'm happy to be meeting him in my first fight tomorrow, now I have the chance to prove myself against him!"
Replied Viney, "I don't care what he thinks, at the end of the day, it's the judges who decide who won a fight. And I'm glad he wants to set the record straight, that's what I plan to do, with a KO."
Next up, French finesse fighter Freddy Kemayo will step in against Romanian farmer's son turned rugby player turned K-1 fighter Catalin Morosanu. After his victory in Budapest, Morosanu said he planned to improve his strength by "going back to Romania and eating two pigs." His trainer, however, had other ideas.
"He said I had to lose weight to improve my stamina, so he wouldn't let me eat the pigs," said Morosanu. "Instead, I went to Thailand to train, and I ate bugs, little fried insects, lots of them. I lost three kilograms [7 lbs], and now my stamina is better and I have more strength in my legs. I will crush Kemayo like a bug, and then, after I win this tournament, I promise I will go back to Romania and eat two pigs!"
Informed of Morosanu's plans, Kemayo laughed. "I don't know about all that, but I know I'm not a pig, I fight back! I can't underestimate anyone, and I know that Morosanu is like a pit bull -- he will only come forward. But I feel I've matured since my last fight, I can see things different now and I am prepared to the maximum for this tournament."
The third quarterfinal will see emerging Dutch fighter Errol Zimmerman of the highly-respected local Golden Glory gym taking on Hungarian hero Attila Karacs, who hopes to build on his impressive victory in Budapest.
"Zimmerman is a very good fighter," said Karacs, "but I have more experience now and I believe I'm better and stronger and faster. My strategy for fighting him is simple -- I want a KO."
Karacs, one of the fighters leading the challenge from Central and Eastern Europe, said the region is ready to make its mark in K-1.
"In Holland they have a long history of muay thai and kickboxing, while we have more of a boxing tradition. But we have been improving our training and styles quickly, and I think our new generation is now going to challenge the Dutch."
The last of the tournament matchups has the dangerous Swiss K-1 star Bjorn Bregy meeting veteran Jan "The Giant" Nortje of South Africa. Bregy, who won the K-1 Europe '06 GP and came in second last year, was clear about his intentions tomorrow: "I want to take the European Championship back."
Nortje was still en route to Amsterdam at the time of the press conference.
In the Europe GP tournament reserve bout, James McSweeny of the United Kingdom will meet Brian Douwes of Holland
The man who gets through three fights to win this tournament advances to the World GP '08 Final Elimination, where this year's final 16, including the world's top fightsport title-holder, three-time and defending K-1 WGP Grand Champion Semmy Schilt of the Netherlands, will go head-to-head.
There are a couple of K-1 Superfights and a whole lot more on the card in Amsterdam.
Highly-anticipated is a showdown between a couple of Dutch K-1 stars -- two-time WGP Grand Champion Remy Bonjasky and the always-tough Melvin Manhoef. While posing for the photographers, so intense was the "don't blink first" staredown between these two that K-1 Europe's Simon Rutz was forced to step in to separate them.
On a rare literary side note, Bonjasky this week also celebrates the release of a book. "Remy Bonjasky -- God in Japan" is an authorized biography by Mabel van den Dungen. While the Japanese press pondered the title's deific suggestion, Manhoef obliged by posing for photographs in prayer.
"Melvin is powerful and explosive, and the fight has attracted a lot of attention in Holland," said Bonjasky before divining, "lots of people are speculating on who will win. But I think I know!"
"I know that neither of us are there to fight for a decision," added Bonjasky. "He's going to come out aggressively and I intend to meet him just as aggressively, so I think it will be a KO, and I don't think it will last three rounds."
The stocky Manhoef, who is 15cm/6" shorter than his opponent, told reporters he had trained to overcome the height disadvantage: "We worked on specific things, but I won't tell you today, instead I will show you tomorrow."
In another Superfight, it will be a couple of muay thai fighters -- 22 year old Tyrone Spong of Suriname, and K-1 veteran Azem Maksutaj of Switzerland.
The K-1 event is complemented by the Dutch fight promotion "It's Showtime," bringing the total number of bouts on the day to no less than twenty. "It's Showtime" will feature a number of K-1 fighters, including Buakaw Por Pramuk, Drago, Paul Slowinski and others.
The K-1 World Grand Prix '08 Europe Final kicks off at 4:30 pm. on Saturday April 26 at the Amsterdam Arena. For international live and time-delay broadcast scheduling, consult local providers. Check with the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Hari Shocks Sefo Schilt wins in Yokohama
By Monty DiPietro
YOKOHAMA, April 13, 2008 -- Moroccan muay thai
dynamo and Defending K-1 Heavyweight Champion Badr Hari, 23, scored three quick
first-round downs to defeat Ray Sefo tonight at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2008 in
Yokohama. In the evening's Main Event, Defending K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
Semmy Schilt defeated challenger Mark Hunt.
It had been more than six years since Mark Hunt's incredible 2001 World GP Tokyo Dome Final performance, when the New Zealand boxer dispatched K-1 stars Francisco Filho, Stefan Leko and Jerome LeBanner to become the first non-European K-1 World GP Champion. Hunt wanted very much to score another upset tonight, against the juggernaut that is Semmy Schilt.
To make matters worse, Hunt also received a hard left knee to the chops late in the round. As the seconds clicked down, Schilt went all-out, and at the clapper delivered a spinning back kick smack into his opponent's midsection. Hunt fell in a heap and lay there with pain tattooed on his face. A most convincing KO win for Schilt.
"We practiced the spinning back kick in training," smiled Schilt in his post flight interview, "but I didn't know it would work out so well. I'm glad I won because he was also a GP Champion, so now I have beaten all the active K-1 Champs!"
Asked what advice he could offer anyone contemplating fighting him, Schilt simply smiled, "I'd tell them not to take the fight!"
"I felt like I'd been kicked by a horse," said a distressed Hunt, "I think anybody who got caught with that kick, even Ernesto Hoost, would have been out. I only started getting my air back when I heard the ring announcer call the number 'eight'."
Ray Sefo versus Badr Hari meanwhile was a highly-anticipated matchup, the civil New Zealand veteran facing the volatile Moroccan rising star.
Despite some trash talk in pre-fight interviews, there were smiles on both fighters' faces as they met center-ring for the referee's instructions. Then it was straight to business. An explosive start -- both fighters attacking aggressively, Sefo firing in a right that put his opponent off balance, Hari responding with a number of knees then a devastating left cross to score a down. After resumption, Hari went right after Sefo, who was forced to the ropes, closed up in defense. Sefo has a great chin, but Hari brought up a hard knee then added a right straight to score another down.
Hari showed no mercy, firing one punch after another, and again bringing the knee up on the doubled-over Sefo. The crowd watched nervously, well aware that Sefo had many times before taken a beating only to rebound and return the favor. But on this night, "Sugarfoot" could not sustain a counterattack. As Hari's fists flew, the referee stepped in and waved his arms, signaling a sensational first-round KO victory for Badr Hari.
"Before the fight, I said I'd get a KO, and I delivered!" said Hari afterward. "In the ring, you can't miss anything, but Ray blinked and I landed the blow, and that was that."
"I was feeling okay," said Sefo, "and then I got caught by the knee and it all went down from there. Badr was the better fighter, that's all."
The card comprised nine bouts, all fought under regular K-1 Rules.
The penultimate contest featured a couple of superbly conditioned combatants -- kyokushin stylist Ewerton Teixeira of Brazil and Japanese karate fighter Yusuke Fujimoto. Teixeira entered the ring with but one K-1 bout to his name -- a 2004 win against Petar Majstorovic. Fujimoto, meanwhile, is the K-1 '07 Asia GP Champion and has honed his skills at the respected Mejiro Gym in Holland.
Teixeira missed with a high kick and a spinning back kick early on, but then answered Fujimoto's hard low kicks in kind. A Teixeira right set Fujimoto stumbling, but Fujimoto also got some good punches through in the first. In the second, both fighters closed frequently and fearlessly, leading with the fists and making good contact. This was shaping up to be one heck of a battle.
In the third there was more aggressive punching, Teixeira missing with a number of his ambitious kicks, Fujimoto repeatedly closing with the right but absorbing punishment from Teixeira's quick counters. A spirited round, in which Teixeira's left straight punch would have put many fighters down -- Fujimoto showing a good chain to stay on his feet and answering deftly with a spinning back punch that made partial contact. Judges saw a draw and called for a tiebreaker round.
Teixeira landed a dandy left straight punch here, Fujimoto was also good with body blows, moving forward but now beginning to either slip and fall to the canvas or grab hold of his opponent to stay on his feet, suggesting possible damage to his left leg.
When the round ended, the judges once again pronounced a draw, sending the fighters to a second and final tiebreaker.
Here Teixeira's superior stamina proved the difference, as he kept on coming while Fujimoto began falling apart. It was a left straight on a counter that scored Teixeira his first down, followed by a left hook for a second down just 20 seconds later. Fujimoto was now awfully wobbly, and Teixeira's right straight punch was the coup de grace, dropping the Japanese fighter for the third time and giving the Brazilian the KO win.
At 35 years of age, seidokaikan veteran Musashi is Japan's most accomplished K-1 fighter. Tonight he faced a challenge from compatriot Junichi Sawayashiki, a 23 year old kickboxer. His stunning upset win over Jerome LeBanner last year established Sawayashiki as one of Japan's most promising youngsters.
The fighters exchanged jabs and low kicks through the early going, Musashi getting a good middle kick through, Sawayashiki making partial contact with a high kick in the first round. In the second, Musashi worked the body blows before getting a left kick up and on target to score a down. After resumption, Musashi put his opponent on the ropes and laid in with the fists, and soon a left uppercut had dropped Sawayashiki a second time. The poor kid beat the count, rising to his feet only be sent back down by Musashi's decisive left straight. An impressive win, Musashi sending the message that he still has a lot of fight left in him.
The Brazilian with the magic legs, kyokushin fighter Glaube Feitosa, met low-kick specialist Alex Roberts, a kujyuken fighter from the United Kingdom making his K-1 debut.
Roberts started with a couple of low kicks and a knee to the midsection, but these did not at all rattle Feitosa, who remained characteristically cool. A number of technical exchanges followed, and by the end of the round although neither fighter had dominated, Feitosa had the edge, and Roberts' nose was bloodied.
If Roberts the rookie was beginning to believe he was holding his own against one of the world's best, that thought flew out of his mind the minute Feitosa's left foot connected with the right side of his head. The British fighter collapsed to the canvas ingloriously, and Feitosa had yet another clip for his kyokushin high-kick highlight reel.
The Squat Samoan with the herculean right hook, Mighty Mo, stepped in against cocky Japanese kickboxer Keijiro Maeda.
Maeda cycled at the far perimeter, occasionally tossing in a kick, while Mo tracked him from the center of the ring. Mo did catch the Japanese fighter on several occasions and Maeda did go to the canvas, but these were ruled slips. Apart from endlessly circling, Maeda's unusual strategy involved diving into the clinch or darting away when it looked like he might get punched. In the second, Mo answered one of Maeda's dive-and-hug maneuvers with a knee, but otherwise had a difficult time tagging his wily opponent.
Maeda continued with the kick-and-run strategy in the third, a number of low kicks making good contact, a number of them also hitting Mo below the belt. Mo now attempted his own low kicks, but these were woefully inadequate. You had to give Maeda credit -- he had put Mo off his game. It wasn't pretty, but it forced a tiebreaker round.
Here, Mo was again kicked below the belt, prompting an extended time stop and recovery period. At the age of 34, Mo is 13 years older than Maeda, and stamina now came into play. An increasingly exhausted and frustrated Mo could not find his distance, while the evasive Maeda scored enough with this kicks to take a unanimous decision.
Veteran kickboxer Petr Vondracek of the Czech Republic, who had lost his last four K-1 bouts, hoped to turn things around here against Japanese karate stylist Mitsugu Noda.
But that was not to be. Too much clinching in the early going, until Noda unloaded a barrage of punches on the cornered and closed-up Vondracek, prompting the referee to call a standing count. A repeat performance in the second, Noda putting Vondracek on the ropes and pummeling him for a good while before finally earning another standing count. The Czech made a bit of a rally, coming in with a series of hooks, but Noda weathered these and was soon on the offensive again, literally chasing Vondracek round the ring to get a referee stop and the victory.
A hard-hitting German, Chalid "Die Faust" hails from the champion-producing Golden Glory gym in Holland. Here he met the technically-advanced Russian kyokushin karate fighter Aleksandr Pichkunov.
Die Faust had lost his last K-1 contest after eating a knee served up by Glaube Feitosa, another kyokushin fighter. So this was something of a chance for payback. Pichkunov the kicker was also coming off a loss, having been out-punched by Doug Viney.
A tentative start here, both men testing with low kicks and the occasional jab. The pace picked up midway through the first, Pichkunov moving forward with punches and sailing a spinning back kick just high. But Die Faust answered the challenge, coming back with a punching attack to end the round.
In the second Die Faust hunkered forward with straight punches and stepped inside to throw the uppercut, but Pichkunov's defense was sound, although Die Faust did clock him soundly with a right. In the third Pichkunov strived to score with low kicks, while Die Faust, leaning forward, made the most of his upper body strength, pumping in body blows and tight hooks. The judges saw a draw and called for a tiebreaker round.
Here, Pichkunov repeatedly jabbed and threw low kicks at the ever-approaching Die Faust, until, in the final seconds, the exhausted pair simply slugged it out from in close. Once again, judges could not pick a winner, and a final tiebreaker was prescribed. This time Pichkunov stayed with the low kicks, stinging his opponent; while Die Faust attempted combinations -- but neither fighter got through to do serious damage. A tough one to call, the split decision giving Pichkunov the win by the narrowest possible margin.
The nine-bout card started with a couple of Japanese fighters, Takashi Tachikawa, who came out of the K-1 Tryout series and is known for his low kicks; and Hiroyuki Enokida, a seidokaikan stylist improbably making his K-1 debut at age 37. This was a bizarre fight. Four seconds after the bell, Tachikawa deposited his rotund opponent with a punch. Enokida beat the count, only to be laid out again immediately after resumption. This was looking like a laughably one-sided affair, when suddenly Enokida smacked through a right hook that KO'd Tachikawa. Three downs in 40 seconds!
In undercard action, Tsuyoshi Nakasako of Japan beat compatriot Takumi Sato by decision; and Tsutomu Takahagi of Japan KO'd Kyoung Suk Kim of South Korea.
The K-1 World Grand Prix 2008 in Yokohama attracted a crowd of 10,629 to the Yokohama Arena. It was broadcast live across Japan on the Fuji TV network, and will be shown on a delayed-basis in a total of 135 countries around the world. For local broadcast information, contact your provider. Check with the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
K-1 World GP '08 in Yokohama Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, April 12, 2008 -- Hoping to make history
for a second time, former K-1 World Grand Prix Grand Champion Mark Hunt returns
to the ring tomorrow against the three-time and defending K-1 WGP Champion Semmy
Schilt of Holland.
It's been five years since Mark Hunt last fought in K-1, but fightsport fans everywhere remember the New Zealand boxer's 2001 World GP performance, when he took the sport by storm. Hunt first KOed all three opponents to win the Oceania GP elimination tournament in Melbourne. Then, at the Tokyo Dome in December, he dispatched K-1 stars Francisco Filho, Stefan Leko and Jerome LeBanner to become the first-ever non-European K-1 World GP Champion.
Hunt would love to score another upset tomorrow, when he faces the juggernaut that is Semmy Schilt in the Main Event at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2008 in Yokohama.
The event features nine bouts, all fought under regular K-1 Rules, in a one-match format. Participating fighters met the media today at the Fuji TV headquarters in Tokyo's seaside Odaiba district.
Three consecutive championships attest to what Semmy Schilt is capable of. But the Dutch seidokaikan fighter was characteristically reserved at the press conference, answering questions about his fight with Hunt -- in which his K-1 Super Heavyweight Belt is also up for grabs -- by coolly repeating his trademark mantra: "I'm glad to be here as the Champion, and I will show a great fight."
Hunt, likewise, was not exactly gabby: "Wish me luck!"
Only when asked about the height difference --- Schilt stands 33cm/13" taller than Hunt -- did the stocky Kiwi loosen up. "Really?" he asked, affecting befuddlement, "there's a height difference? I don't think so." When pressed by the reporter, Hunt smiled. "Semmy's the three-time champ and he's a great fighter, we'll just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow."
Tomorrow's penultimate match up is a bout between kyokushin karate fighter Ewerton Teixeira of Brazil and Japanese karate fighter Yusuke Fujimoto, who won last year's K-1 Asia GP in Hong Kong and has honed his skills at the respected Mejiro Gym in Holland.
"I trained hard in preparation, Fujimoto looks in good shape, but I will do a great fight," said Teixeira. Replied Fujimoto, "My opponent has good upper body strength and is competing in K-1 for the first time, so I look forward to meeting a new fighter, but I mainly focus on myself and on making a good fight. I'm in great condition, and I'm ready to go!"
At 35 years of age, seidokaikan veteran Musashi is Japan's most accomplished K-1 fighter. At the Yokohama Arena he will step in against compatriot Junichi Sawayashiki, a 23 year old fighter whose shocking upset win over Jerome LeBanner last year established him as one of Japan's rising K-1 stars.
"I trained hard and long, and I believe I'm prepared to win," said Musashi. Sawayashiki, looking relaxed, promised, "tomorrow I will be aggressive, and I will win."
In a highly-anticipated matchup, it will be K-1 living legend Ray Sefo of New Zealand entertaining the explosive bad boy Badr Hari of Morocco.
Said Sefo, "I heard in one of his interviews that Badr said I had better be in shape, well that's true. My last year was terrible, but I am in great form now. I have nothing but good things to say about Badr, he's young, talented, determined and wants to win. But I want to win too, and tomorrow I'm coming after him."
Replied Hari, "I don't know what to say, Ray said enough, just make sure to get your ticket because I promise a big knockout, that's the only thing I can promise, a big knockout!"
The Brazilian with the magic legs, kyokushin fighter Glaube Feitosa, will meet low-kick specialist Alex Roberts, a kujyuken-kaikan fighter from the United Kingdom.
Said Feitosa, "I practiced, I trained with [Francisco] Filho, and I will do well." Speaking in fluent Japanese, Roberts replied, "It's my debut and I'm facing a great opponent so I think it's a great chance to do a great fight, and that's what I hope to do."
The Squat Samoan with the herculean right hook, Mighty Mo, will step it against cocky Japanese kickboxer Keijiro Maeda.
"I am back," said Mo, "because I want to make some noise and fight a good fight." For his part, Maeda went off on a bit of a tangent, "I've been playing a computer game recently, called 'Monster Hunter' and I've got quite good at it. They say that Mo has 'monster hands', but tomorrow I want to make him say 'stop, I've had enough, no more'!"
Veteran kickboxer Petr Vondracek of the Czech Republic will take on Japanese karate stylist Mitsugu Noda.
"I will be strong and fight to win," said Vondracek. "I know my opponent is a strong fighter," replied Noda, "but my goal this year is to win the Japan GP and I want to get off to a good start, so I can't lose tomorrow!"
The hard-hitting German, Chalid "Die Faust" hails from the champion-producing Golden Glory gym in Holland. Tomorrow he will meet the technically-advanced Russian kyokushin karate fighter Aleksandr Pichkunov.
In his last K-1 fight, after eating a knee, Die Faust lost to Glaube Feitosa, another kyokushin fighter. So this is something of a chance for payback. "I am very well prepared, and I want to wish my opponent good luck," said the gentlemanly Die Faust.
Pichkunov also lost his last bout, after being out-punched by Doug Viney. "I'm happy to have another chance in K-1," said the Russian. "This time it's only one match, so I can give my all in the one bout. I wish good luck to everyone, especially me!"
The nine-bout card starts with a couple of Japanese -- Takashi Tachikawa, known for his hard low kicks, and Hiroyuki Enokida a 37-year-old seidokaikan stylist. In undercard action, it will be Tsuyoshi Nakasako of Japan and compatriot Takumi Sato; and Kyoung Suk Kim of South Korea taking on Tsutomu Takahagi of Japan.
The K-1 World Grand Prix 2008 in Yokohama kicks off at 3:00 pm. on Sunday, April 13 at the Yokohama Arena. It will be broadcast live across Japan on the Fuji TV network, and on a delayed-basis in a total of 135 countries around the world. For local broadcast information, contact your provider. Check with the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Masato Masterful in Hiroshima
By Monty DiPietro
HIROSHIMA, April 9, 2008 -- Twenty-nine year-old
Japanese kickboxer Masato out-punched South African boxer Virgil Kalakoda to
emerge victorious tonight in the Main Event at the World Max '08 Final 16
Tournament in Hiroshima.
Masato won the World Max Championship in 2003, and made it to the final last year. Here, Masato wanted to prove he's still a force to be reckoned with. Kalakoda, meanwhile, had won seven of his eleven World Max fights, and stepped in the ring with a chance to claim a spot at the top.
The South African switched to an unusual cross-arm guard late in the round, and in the second opened up some, shifting his weight forward, looking for way in. But Masato's lateral movement kept him out of trouble, while his zippy punches and kicks to the midsection proved the best strikes of the round. All three scorecards had Masato ahead in both the first and second rounds. One had to wonder what Kalakoda was waiting for.
In the third, Masato's go-to strategy paid off, as he got round his opponent's guard with a right hook. Kalakoda fell hard to canvas, and there was no way was going to beat the count. A tremendous performance and a KO victory, confirming Masato as not only Japan's best, but one of the world's best.
"I said I wanted to beat Virgil with a punch and that's what I did," said a beaming Masato in his post-fight interview. "Now, because my predictions are coming true, let me make another one -- I will win the World Max Championship this year!"
The K-1 World Max is one of the most thrilling fightsport competitions in the world today. With its 70kg/154lbs weight class, World Max delivers an unparalleled combination of speed and technique that have made it a favorite of sports fans everywhere.
The road to this year's World Max Championship has three-stages. The final and semifinals are scheduled for October, and the fighters competing there will be determined at the historic Nippon Budokan in July, when the final eight square off in a quartet of elimination bouts.
Tonight, all eyes were on Hiroshima. The event featured 16 fighters from 12 countries in eight elimination matches -- with the victors going to the Budokan.
Aside from Masato, three other World Max Grand Champions competed in Hiroshima.
Defending and two-time Max Champ Andy Souwer of Holland stepped in against the small Greek with the big punch, Mike Zambidis.
The first round saw Zambidis closing sharply to score with a right hook and flying knee, Souwer doing well with numerous low kicks and a punishing right knee. In the second, Zambidis got another knee up and brought on an aggressive barrage of body blows at the clapper, but his front leg was beginning to bruise at the thigh from Souwer's kicks. A hard-fought third round, Souwer continuing to press with the low kicks, Zambidis closing up his guard and blasting in with body blows.
All three judges called it a draw, and so a tiebreaker round was prescribed. Zambidis waited for Souwer to make the first move -- a high kick that missed -- then exploded with the fists. The Greek fighter's blocking was sound, he it looked like might have stolen this one -- until, after an innocent Souwer jab, he let his right guard drop. Souwer wasted no time firing up a high kick that smacked Zambidis hard on the side of head. Souwer got the win by KO -- and remarked afterward that he believed he had earned a win after three rounds -- but this was a much closer fight than many would have expected.
In the evening's penultimate bout, two-time World Max Grand Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand met the first-ever Max Champion, Dutch boxer Albert Kraus.
Buakaw had the more balanced attacks through the first round, mixing it up with punches and kicks, scoring with a left hook. Kraus rarely kicked, but did block most of what came his way, and made good contact with an uppercut. In the second again Buakaw skillfully brought his varied arsenal to play, while Kraus continued to close with the jab and again landed an uppercut. Seemingly indefatigable, Buakaw kept on coming and in the third used the legs and fists alike, but Kraus showed excellent blocking, and pounded in a left straight punch to keep it close.
Judges could not agree on a winner, and so called for an extra round.
Buakaw now threw everything but the kitchen sink at his opponent, but Kraus' evasions and blocking were up to task. A tough one to call, and a mixed reaction from the crowd when Buakaw's arm was raised.
Kickboxer Yoshihiro Sato, the 2006 World Max Japan Champion, took on Murat Direkci, a tough Turk who had posted an impressive first-round KO victory over Albert Kraus in his last fight.
Sato brought a 10cm/4" height advantage to this fight, but Direkci responded fittingly, using front kicks to control the distance and getting through early with a couple of creative ascending punching attacks. In the second round Sato fired in low kicks, and although these did little to discourage Direkci from coming forward with the fists, they were taking their toll on his legs.
The third saw spirited efforts from both fighters. Sato cocked his opponent's head back with a front kick, and make contact with the left straight punch, Direkci putting an estimable punch through late in the round. The blocking was sound and there was little apparent damage but this was an entertaining technical bout. The win went to Sato by unanimous decision.
Twenty-one year-old Ukrainian kickboxer Artur Kyshenko stepped in against Ray Sefo protégé Jordan Tai of New Zealand in a terrific contest.
An exchange of hard low kicks to start this one, before the fighters switched to punches. Tai put a nice right overhand on target, before Kyshenko came in with straight punches and connected with a sensational high kick. Tai took a hard knee at the end of the first, but got out of the round. Tai pumped up a nice uppercut midway through the second, and while Kyshenko was good with his knees, Tai ably answered one of these with a right punch to score a down late in the round. A furious end to the second.
And a furious start to the third, as all manner of attacks were unleashed -- straight punches, spinning back punches, high kicks and knees galore. Kyshenko got a high kick and knee in to drop his opponent, but these were both ruled slips. Tai was aggressive with his fists, and at the end of it all the judges called for a tiebreaker round.
The extra round was again non-stop action, Tai putting in an uppercut and nice high kick; Kyshenko also scoring with a high kick, and rattling his opponent with a mean knee and right cross. If it were possible to raise both fighters' arms, it would have been deserved. As it was, Kyshenko had enough of an edge to get the win.
In a showdown between emerging fighters with consummate provenience, Italian Saro "The Sicilian Don" Presti of Team Peter Aerts met South African Warren Stevelmans, who trains with Remy Bonjasky at the VOS gym that Ernesto Hoost made famous.
The two sparred tentatively through most of the first round before Stevelmans countered a Presti low kick attempt with a left hook to score a late down. It was Stevelmans again in the second round, controlling the fight effectively before charging in with a left knee that connected squarely with his adversary's jaw. The Italian could not beat the count, and Stevelmans had the convincing win.
Armenian dynamo Drago tangoed with Gori, who hails from tiny Rota in the Mariana Islands and fights for the United States. The pair showed similar styles, both testing with jabs and kicks before a Drago left punch distressed Gori, who went stumbling toward the corner but stayed on his feet and escaped the round. In the second, Drago picked up the pace, and a high kick deposited Gori on the canvas, although this was ruled a slip. The third saw more aggression from the Armenian, who confidently fired in high, front, and ax kicks as he chased Gori round the ring. A body blow earned Drago a down late in the round, after which he attacked with sufficient aggression to score two more downs and finish the fight, the decisive blow, a left hook, coming with only four seconds remaining.
The number four told a different story in the following bout when Yasuhiro Kido, who won the World Max '08 Japan in February, took on South Korean kickboxer Chi Bin Lim. The bell sounded and the pair closed to center-ring, whereupon Kido fired up a right knee to the chin, and Lim went limp and collapsed. Time elapsed? Only four seconds. It appeared no one was more surprised than Kido -- who gleefully hopped round the ring to the delight of the crowd.
In a fast and spirited undercard bout, Yuya Yamamoto of Japan went with kicks while Brazilian Marfio "The Warrior Tiger" Canoletti used the fists. There was action from start to finish but in the end Yamamoto was launching the majority of the attacks. Superior stamina proved the difference as the Japanese fighter was awarded a comfortable unanimous decision.
All fights were conducted under K-1 Rules -- 3min. x 3R with one possible tiebreaker round.
There were also a pair of K-1 World Youth special matches. Japanese wunderkind Hiroya, 16, entertained 15 year-old compatriot Tsukasa Fuji in a 60kg/132lbs matchups. Both boys had their chances here, Fuji adept with his front kicks, Hiroya showing his versatility with low kicks and punch combinations. In the third round, Hiroya hurt his opponent with a left punch to the body and follow it up with a couple of rights to finish on the offensive and pick up the win by unanimous decision.
Meanwhile, at 55kg/121lbs, it was Shota Takiya of Japan and Vitalij Lisnyak of the Ukraine displaying quick combinations and great technical promise in a bout that ended with a split decision in favor of the Japanese fighter.
The K-1 World Max '08 Final 16 Tournament attracted 6,700 fans to the Hiroshima Green Arena. It was broadcast live in Japan on the TBS network. For delay broadcast information in other countries contact local providers. For complete coverage of this and all K-1 World Max and World GP events visit the K-1 Official website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp).
World Max 16 in Hiroshima Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
HIROSHIMA, April 8, 2008 -- The K-1 World Max is
one of the most thrilling fightsport competitions in the world today. With its
70kg/154lbs weight class, World Max delivers the unparalleled combination of
speed and technique that have made it a favorite of sports fans everywhere. The
road to this year's World Max Championship has three-stages. The final and
semifinals are scheduled for October, and the four fighters competing there will
be determined at the historic Nippon Budokan in July, when the final eight
square off in a quartet of elimination bouts.
On the eve of battle, the 16 fighters met the media at the Rihga Royal Hotel.
Four former World Max Grand Champions will be competing tomorrow, including Japanese favorite Masato, who faces Virgil Kalakoda of South Africa in the Main Event.
"I'm very sure it will be fierce, with a lot of punching attacks," said Masato. "Virgil is a good puncher, but I have more experience than he does, and so I think I'm the more capable fighter."
Kalakoda, speaking in Japanese, showed surprising brevity: "I am the one who will win."
In the penultimate bout, two-time World Max Grand Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand will meet the first-ever Max Champ, Dutch boxer Albert Kraus. Both these fighters were guarded with their comments, saying only that they were happy to be here and would do their best.
In another highly-anticipated matchup, Defending and two-time World Max Champion Andy Souwer of Holland will step in against the small Greek with the big punch, Mike Zambidis.
"This is the first event of the new K-1 World Max series," said Souwer. "I plan to start off carefully, and make a good defense of my title, take it one step at a time to the final."
Zambidis said he was happy to be fighting the Champ, and would do his best to win.
Lanky Japan Max star Yoshihiro Sato will take on Turk Murat Direkci; while in a showdown between K-1 veterans' protégés, Italian fighter Saro "The Sicilian Don" Presti, who trains with Peter Aerts; will meet Warren Stevelmans of South Africa, who trains with Ernesto Hoost.
In other elimination bouts; Artur Kyshenko of the Ukraine will meet Jordan Tai of New Zealand; Armenian dynamo Drago will tango with Goro of Rota/USA; and Chi Bin Lim of South Korea will take on Yasuhiro Kido of Japan / Taniyama Gym
All bouts will be conducted under K-1 Rules -- 3min. x 3R with one possible tiebreaker round.
There will also be a K-1 World Youth Special Match fought under special rules and with a 60kg/132lbs contract. Sixteen year-old Japanese wunderkind Hiroya will entertain 15 year-old compatriot Tsukasa Fuji.
In undercard bouts, Yuya Yamamoto of Japan will meet Marfio "The Warrior Tiger" Canoletti of Brazil; while in a 55kg/121lbs contest, it will be Shota Takiya of Japan against Vitalij Lisnyak of the Ukraine.
The K-1 World Max '08 Final 16 Tournament kicks off at 18h00 on April 9 at the Hiroshima Green Arena It will be broadcast live in Japan on the TBS network. For delay broadcast information in other areas contact local providers. For complete coverage of this and all K-1 World Max and World GP events visit the K-1 Official website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp).
Yasuhiro Kido Wins K-1 World Max Japan '08
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, February 2, 2008 -- Twenty-five year-old
kickboxer Yasuhiro Kido rose from relative unknown to Japan Champion tonight at
the K-1 World Max '08 Japan. Held before a sellout crowd at the historic Nippon
Budokan, the event featured an eight-man elimination tournament fought under K-1
Max Rules (70kg/152lbs weight class; 3min. x 3R Ex.1R). There were also be a
couple of Superfights and a trio of K-1 World Youth showcase bouts.
A bottle-blond fighter from Isehara City (pop. 100,000), Kido won the All-Japan Student Kickboxing Welterweight Championship in '01, and won again, in the Middleweight class, in '02. But the muay thai-trained kickboxer had a mere three K-1 bouts under his belt coming into this tournament, and his name was hardly mentioned in speculation of who might prevail. Most of that attention was focused on Nigerian-Japanese kickboxer Andy Ologun, who met karate stylist Yuya Yamamoto in the first tournament matchup.
Kido made his debut in the second bout, against Keiji Ozaki, a taekwondo fighter. Some high kicks from Kido to start, Ozaki hanging back. Kido's 12 cm/5" height advantage helped him control the distance through much of the first, although Ozaki did get a dandy right straight through late in the round. In the second and third Ozaki repeatedly closed with the quick left jab, but to no avail, while Kido's legwork kept him ahead, a high kick rattling Ozaki for a standing count at the final clapper. The unanimous decision got Kido a date with Ologun in the semifinals.
Starting the second bracket were a couple of boxers, go-to guy Tatsuji and Hiroyuki Maeda. One week shy of his 36th birthday, Tatsuji was the oldest fighter in the tournament. His ring entrance music was the theme from "Rocky." Maeda lived up to the music, fighting like a champion here -- mixing it up from the start and scoring an early down with a left hook. Tatsuji beat the count, but Maeda kept on coming, and scarcely a minute in socked in another left in for a second down and the win.
Last up was Ryuji, who brought a record of 23 wins and 4 losses to his fight with kickboxer Hayato. A fast-paced first, both fighters getting good punches through, the momentum swinging one way then the other. In the second, Ryuji applied early pressure with the fists, smacking in a left hook, before Hayato met his opponent's advance with a right punch to score a down. Ryuji rallied however to finish strongly. The third featured more great action, Ryuji closing with hooks, Hayato good with blocking and countering with straight punches and low kicks. A slugfest to the final bell, the narrowest of majority decisions advancing Hayato to the semis against Maeda.
The first of the semifinals featured Kido and Ologun. Kido used front kicks to stymie Ologun's early advances. Aside from a fair Ologun high kick not much hurt got delivered until the second, when Kido began to pump in the low kicks and made partial contact with a spinning back punch. In the third Kido's kicks' aggregate effect slowed Ologun, who did not threaten. Kido turned it up toward the end, coming in with the fists, and won the round on all cards to take a unanimous decision.
In the second semi it was Maeda and Hayato. Maeda was spunky here, fast on his feet and repeatedly closing with the fists. Midway though the first, Hayato looked to have hurt his opponent with stinging low kicks, but Maeda made a terrific late rally, scoring a down with a right hook. Hayato beat the count only to find himself once again on the bad side of a barrage of fists. With his defenseless opponent pinned in the corner, Maeda pumped in the punches, and the referee might have stepped in had the bell not sounded to end the round.
During the break, however, an ominous air closed on Maeda's corner, as cornermen stretched the fighter's right arm and uneasily examining the elbow. The bell sounded but Maeda did not answer. The ringside doctor had a quick look, then announced to the disappointed crowd that the injury would prevent Maeda from continuing. And so it was Hayato through to the final
Kido and Hayato threw plenty of punches in this one -- pity it didn't go longer. There were no fewer than four downs in the first minute. Kido got a right straight punch past a sloppy defense to score the first, and put a left hook in seconds after resumption to collect a second. Many in the crowd figured that was it, but Hayato had other ideas, and the still-shaky fighter brought the crowd to their feet with a punch that dramatically deposited Kido on the canvas. Alas, prospects of a comeback crumbled in no time, as Kido put that right in again to score his third down and pick up the win.
With his tournament victory, Kido becomes Japan's official representative at the World Max '08 Final, scheduled for October.
In the Main Superfight, it was two-time World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand taking on two-time and defending Max Japan Champion Yoshihiro Sato. These boys fought back at the World Max '06 Final, Buakaw stopping Sato with a left to win by KO.
Dozens of low kicks through the first round, both fighters snapping them in smartly, Buakaw also getting partial contact with a high kick. The second saw more of the same, Buakaw expertly controlling the distance with front kicks, the taller Sato striving but failing to get close with the knees. Buakaw got a right punch through, but otherwise it was kicks. Sato stepped in with the uppercut here and again in the third but Buakaw was deft with the evasions, and scored repeatedly on counters. Sato got a right hook through in the third, Buakaw answering immediately with a left. Sato kept coming in to score with low kicks to keep it close. Late in the round Buakaw pushed his opponent across the ring with a couple of front kicks, then ducked and weaved to avoid a late punching attack.
Judges could not pick a winner and so an extra round was prescribed. Buakaw and Sato now went almost entirely with the fists, Buakaw repeatedly going around the guard with hooks, Sato unable to take advantage of his opponent's relaxed guard to get the knees up. Buakaw landed a good number of blows to the body and head, while Sato gave the partisan crowd a glimmer of hope with a solid left hook that sent Buakaw stumbling for a moment. It was however too little too late, and Buakaw took the split decision.
In other Superfight action, dynamic Ukrainian muay thai stylist Artur Kyshenko stepped in against meat and potatoes kickboxer Shingo Garyu of Japan. Kyshenko just wanted to fight, but today Garyu was inclined to theatrics; crouching close and low for a funky staredown during the referee's pre-bout instructions. But from the bell, Kyshenko just fought, and it turned out that was all he had to do, as three hard left hooks yielded three quick downs. A near-perfect technical performance and a well-earned win for Kyshenko.
The event also provided a peek at some up-and-coming K-1 talent, in the U-18 K-1 World Youth Competition. Three matches were contested under K-1 Rules, with a 60kg/132lb contract and a Japan vs Holland theme -- The Japanese kids managed by Team Dragon President Kensaku Maeda; the legendary Andre Mannaart standing at the helm of the Dutch effort.
If the Dutch never grew up, Japan would dominate K-1 -- that was the message here, as the local youngsters won all three contests. Overcoming an 11cm/4" height disadvantage, wunderkind Hiroya threaded a left and a right through Robby Hageman's guard to drop the Dutch teen and win by KO; in an otherwise close contest, Kizaemon Saiga won the third round on all cards to beat Bappie "Baby Face" Tetteroo by unanimous decision; and Shota Shimada spun a back punch round and caught Roy Tan hard on the jaw to score a late 2nd round KO win.
In the World Max Japan tournament reserve, Yasuhito Shirasu beat Kozo Mitsuyama by second round KO.
The K-1 World Max Japan attracted a crowd of 9,549 to the Budokan in central Tokyo. The event was broadcast live in Japan on the TBS network. Delay-broadcasts will bring the action to a total of 135 countries -- for scheduling information contact local providers. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
K-1 World MAX Japan 2008 Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, February 1, 2008 -- The K-1 World Max '08
season kicks off tomorrow with the World Max Japan Tournament. Set at the
historic Nippon Budokan, the event features an eight-man elimination tournament
fought under K-1 Max Rules (70kg/152lbs weight class; 3min. x 3R Ex.1R). There
will also be a couple of Superfights and a trio of K-1 World Youth showcase
bouts. Participating fighters (minus those who had to be in school) met the
media today at the Happo-En Hotel in central Tokyo.
The attrition tournament will determine Japan's official representative at this year's World Max Final. All fighters appeared relaxed and in excellent condition, and pledged to do their best.
Starting the second bracket will be a couple of boxers, go-to guy Tatsuji and tough customer Hiroyuki Maeda -- who, at 36 years of age is the tournament veteran. Last up, it's Ryuji, who brings a record of 23 wins and 4 losses to his fight with kickboxer Hayato.
Winners in their first-fights will square off in a pair of semifinal bouts, with the two victors facing off in the final.
In Superfights, it will be two-time World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand taking on two-time and defending Max Japan Champion Yoshihiro Sato; and dynamic Ukrainian muay thai fighter Artur Kyshenko stepping in against meat and potatoes kickboxer Shingo Garyu of Japan.
The event also provides a peek at some up-and-coming K-1 talent, in the U-18 K-1 World Youth Competition. Three matches will be contested under K-1 Rules, with a 60kg/132lb contract and a Japan vs Holland theme: Japanese wunderkind Hiroya will take on Robby Hageman; Shota Shimada will tango with Roy Tan; and Kizaemon Saiga will go up against Bappie "Baby Face" Tetteroo. The Japanese side are being managed by Team Dragon President Kensaku Maeda; while the legendary Andre Mannaart stands at the helm of the Dutch effort.
The K-1 World Max Japan starts at 2:30 on Saturday Feb 2 at the Budokan in central Tokyo. The event will be broadcast live in Japan on the TBS network. Delay-broadcasts will bring the action to a total of 135 countries -- for scheduling information contact local providers. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Sakuraba still Dynamite!!
By Monty DiPietro
OSAKA, December 31, 2007 -- Veteran Japanese
fighter Kazushi Sakuraba, 36, beat Masakatsu Funaki in the Main Event tonight at
the K-1 Premium Dynamite!! Also victorious at the New Year's Eve fightsport
extravaganza were Kid Yamamoto, Bob Sapp, and 16 year-old karate stylist Yudai.
Since its inception five years ago, Dynamite!! has become one of the world's most popular fightsport productions, broadcast live across Japan with viewer estimates of up to 30 million. This is fightsport entertainment for the entire family -- featuring wily veterans and wide-eyed teens; popular Japanese television tarento; foreign behemoths; and yes, enough elite-fighter matchups to satisfy the martial arts purists.
Dynamite!! was held before a full house at the Kyocera Dome Osaka. Seven bouts were fought under HERO's Rules (mixed martial arts), and eight under K-1 Rules (standup).
In the Main Event it was a couple of Japanese mixed martial arts legends meeting under HERO'S Rules, with a 85kg/187lbs weight contract. Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki brought a wealth of experience and illustrious careers to the ring. Both are grapplers and so this fight was expected to go to the mat early.
There were a few low kicks and punches to start, both fighters connecting smartly before an off-balance Sakuraba managed a takedown to mount. Funaki coiled up, and after the pair spent some time locked in a Greco-Roman embrace Sakuraba emerged standing over his opponent. Funaki used bicycle kicks to keep his opponent at bay, smacking one up to the face, before Sakuraba grabbed the feet and came down to a side mount to begin fishing for the armbar. The pair were wrapped tight when Sakuraba worked Funaki's right arm free, twisting it behind the back to force the submission and take the win.
"It's been seven years since I fought Funaki and I was surprised at how good his punching and timing are," said Sakuraba in his post-fight interview. "He is stronger than I remember, I was planning to pound on his face, but he was so good at blocking that I couldn't." Asked about FEG Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa's call for a Sakuraba vs Rickson Gracie fight next year, Sakuraba replied, "I'm up for it, I've never fought him, but I can only think of one fight at a time. This was a good year and I was relatively uninjured, so I'd like next year to be like that!"
The card's penultimate matchup featured Japanese mixed martial arts star Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto and Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter Rani Yahya in a 61kg/135lbs HERO'S contest. Yahya charged in early swinging away, only to have his momentum kiboshed by Yamamoto's surgical left punch. Yahya made attempts with low and high kicks, but the Kid was better with his counters, and repeatedly closed to point with a strike-and-retreat strategy. Yahya several times saw his leg takedowns stymied, and when the Brazilian did go to the ground Yamamoto declined the invitation, electing to hang back for a re-stand. In the first and second there were periods of frantic punching exchanges, but despite copious attempts, neither fighter could knock the other down.
The Kid's low crouch contrasted with Yahya's upright stance, and allowed the Japanese to both jump forward with punches and stave off takedown attempts. Following more fruitless flailing of the fists in the third, Yahya threw three high kicks, all of which were ably blocked, before Yamamoto connected squarely with a right, then a left, to leave Yahya dazed and down in the corner. The pumped-up Kid stepped in to fire kicks at his opponent's head, making partial contact before the referee intervened to stop the fight, raising Yamamoto's arm in victory.
"I kept a good distance to keep my opponent for coming in with a tackle," said Yamamoto afterward. "His punches were unorthodox so I hesitated a bit. A punch got through in the second round and I was seeing double after that. But in the end I came out with a win!"
Five years ago, American fighter Bob "The Beast" Sapp had one of the most recognizable faces in Japan. Tonight Sapp returned for a HERO'S bout with another very recognizable face, Japanese television tarento and comedian Bobby Ologun of Nigeria. The question was -- which face would be more recognizable after the fight?
After a couple of unabashedly over-the-top ring entrances, the pair set up for their showdown. From the bell, Sapp marched forward as Ologun pranced about out of reach, until finally Sapp got a grip and a takedown. The Beast muscled his way into a full mount which, given his mass, offered Ologun little if any chance for escape. Sapp tried in vain to wrest his opponent's arm free before abandoning that endeavor and simply pounding down the fists to earn a referee stop and the win.
"I'm happy overall," said Sapp in his post-fight interview, "but I know what I need to work on. It's good to be back. I think the audience wants more of the Beast and I want to do more. I plan to sit down with FEG and see what 2008 has in store, it should be a happy new year!"
In other HERO'S fights:
Kiyoshi Tamura of Japan took on compatriot Hideo Tokoro. These are a couple of mixed martial arts specialists, and not a strike was thrown before they went to the mat courtesy a Tokoro takedown. After a restand and a solid Tamura middle kick, the pair went to the mat once more where, alas, not a whole lot happened. Tamura allowed his opponent to stand, threw a kick or two and then they were down again. A round with plenty of ups and downs but little apparent damage. More grappling in the second, Tamura not capitalizing on a rear mount, Tokoro reversing but similarly unable to gain good position before another of many referee-ordered re-stands. But for a solid Tamura left hook, another round marred by a lack of action. With his 17kg/38lbs weight advantage, Tamura had the edge in power, and hard low kicks earned him some points early in the third. A relatively lackluster affair that finally found its conclusion when the pair went to the mat midway through the final round and Tamura extracted an arm and hyperextended for the submission.
Japanese former pro wrestler Minowaman went up against Zulu, a Brazilian who weighs in at a whopping 185kg/408lbs. Minowaman declared before the fight that weight difference was less important than spirit in a fight. But as Zulu stood center ring, Minowaman showed only spirited jogging, circling the ring's perimeter more than a dozen times -- perhaps intent on dizzying his opponent? The cat and mouse game played out for several minutes before Zulu finally got a hold of Minowaman and smothered him. Then the bell sounded.
In the second it was more perimeter play for Minowaman, who only occasionally darted in with low kicks. Again, Zulu eventually caught his opponent, throwing him to the mat like a rag doll. Soon, Minowaman managed to get to his feet and began running circles again. Had the bout been fought on a tennis court this might have gone on forever. As it was Zulu cut off the ring and got another takedown, but was woefully unable to work a submission before the bell sounded. Zulu tracked and downed his prey again in the third, and this time his hammer punches prompted Minowaman's corner to throw the towel.
The ever-aggressive Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef made his Dynamite!! debut, testing his mixed martial arts skills against Japanese boxer Yosuke Nishijima. The two strikers squared off from the start, Manhoef coming in with a flurry of punches that left Nishijima stunned against the ropes. Somewhat surprisingly, Manhoef then elected to execute a takedown, quickly assuming a full mount to finish his opponent with the good old-fashioned ground 'n pound.
In a 70kg/154lbs bout, it was wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata of Japan versus lean mean multidisciplinary fighting machine Joachim Hansen of Norway. After a bit of sparring, Miyata got the takedown and mount, but Hansen's guard forced a stalemate and re-stand. Miyata connected with a high kick and a left hook, but Hansen scored a strong down with a left hook. As a vulnerable Miyata lay on his back Hansen approached, only to be stopped by the bell. Miyata got another takedown to start the second. Hansen was good in guard, then suddenly rolled his opponent into a choke sleeper for the tapout win.
There were some big names competing in the K-1 Rules side of the Dynamite!! card.
World Max star Masato of Japan made his annual appearance, hosting accomplished South Korean boxer Yong Soo Choi. This was a fast and furious fight, Choi using his reach to chase Masato with straight punches in the early going, Masato answering in kind. Choi would have loved to box with Masato, but this is K-1, and Masato positively flummoxed the Korean with his legwork. Choi never found his distance, as most everything he swung sailed harmlessly past Masato. With excellent timing, Masato released a high kick that rocked Choi's jaw and put him down in a heap. Masato turned away, apparently believing that was the finish -- but Choi valiantly beat the count, and managed to get out of the round. In the second, Masato controlled the fight with his kicks and knees, and although Choi connected with a good right straight punch here, so did Masato. In the third Masato kept up the pressure, unleashing his full arsenal of attacks on an exasperated and exhausted Choi, whose corner had little choice but to throw the towel.
"I didn’t want the towel to be thrown in," said Masato afterward, "I wanted to finish him with a punch. I could feel that my punches were solid, but his punches didn't do squat. As for going for K-1 Max Championship again, I say this every year -- but yes, I want to. The training menu has already been decided. My trainer said it's going to be tough, with lots of running (laughs). As long as I'm in the game, I want to shoot for number one. If I don't, I'll regret it. I'll fight until I’m satisfied. I tried a bunch of different things recently, but in the end I'm addicted to the fight game!"
Seidokaikan fighter Nicholas Pettas of Denmark pledged to mark the 20th anniversary of his first-ever karate lesson with a victory over ssirium wrestler Young Hyun Kim of South Korea. This was no small challenge, as Kim brought a 37cm/12" height and 50kg/134lbs weight advantage to the ring. Both fighters had a plan -- Kim wanted to close and bring up the knees; Pettas wanted to chop away with the low kicks.
Pettas' plan prevailed. The Dane avoided the knees while repeatedly firing in hard low kicks, and as the clapper sounded, scored a down when Kim's battered left leg gave out. In the second, incredibly, Pettas got a high kick up to his opponent's head, then moved in with big overhand punches. It was a right that proved the decisive blow, as Kim began to sway, and like a tired old redwood, lumbered slowly to the ground and just lay there. A triumphant performance by Pettas that brought the crowd to their feet in delirium.
Japanese seidokaikan fighter Musashi took on the card's second African-born Japanese television comedian when he meets Bernard Ackah of Cote d'Ivoire. Musashi chided Ackah at the pre-event press conference, "I love comedians and respect Ackah for what he is, but this is K-1…" The remark prompted Ackah to retort, "I'm also a fighter, don't worry, there will be no comedy in the ring when we meet."
The Osaka-born Musashi did not come out particularly hard in front of his hometown crowd. Instead he found himself eating a lot of leather as Ackah put him on the ropes and unloaded a dozen quick punches. Musashi's guard stayed high and close, but a number of the blows, especially a couple of uppercuts, made good contact. The second round saw Musashi looking truer to form, pressing well and hurting Ackah with low kicks, pumping in the body blows and a good right hook. Ackah answered with straight punches but Musashi simply had more power on his stuff. In the third Musashi took total control, throwing middle kicks and hooks past his opponent's clumsy guard, pounding in a right then a left hook to drop Ackah and pick up the KO win.
In an undercard bout, Japanese fighter Takashi Tachikawa withstood a determined early challenge before cutting down Yoshihisa Inoue with low kicks.
Dynamite!! 2007 also featured a special K-1 Rules tournament for fighters aged 18 and under, with a 60kg/132lbs weight limit. Meant to develop the next generation of Japanese K-1 fighters, the K-1 U-18 Japan Tournament mirrored the classic K-1 elimination format, but with four fighters participating instead of eight.
The preeminent Japanese K-1 prospect is undoubtedly kickboxer Hiroya, who will turn 16 next week and names Masato as his hero. Hiroya had prevailed in all three of his previous K-1 bouts. In his semifinal bout here, he faced karate stylist Kizaemon Saiga.
Hiroya went with the hard low kicks from the start, while a flashy Saiga responded with flying and flip kicks before being stopped by a low blow. After resumption Saiga was again quick and creative with the legs, just missing with an ax and then making partial contact with a kyokushin kick. Hiroya stayed with the low kicks, and brought the knees up late in the round. Throughout, the boys showed very good balance and blocking. The second saw Hiroya using the front kick to control the distance while firing in more hard low kicks; Saiga mostly missing, albeit spectacularly, with his jazzy legwork. In the third Saiga landed a good right straight punch early, but Hiroya came across with the better stuff later, including a nice left hook, to wrap up the win with a unanimous decision.
The second U-18 semifinal featured kickboxers Kenji Kubo and Yudai. Both youngsters mixed up the punches and kicks nicely and had their chances in the first. Yudai put a good high kick up in the second, and connected well with straight punches and an uppercut. Kubo was aggressive in the third, but Yudai's positioning was near-perfect, as the 16 year-old met his opponent's advances confidently and scored points with precisely-delivered counters. A unanimous decision, putting Yudai into the final against Hiroya.
The U-18 Final between Hiroya, 15; and Yudai, 16, started with a tentative first round, the boys light on their feet, looking for openings, only testing with the jab and low kicks. Minimal fisticuffs again in the second, Hiroya landing a right straight, Yudai getting his licks in but neither sustaining pressure. After being admonished by K-1 legend and bout referee Nobuaki Kakuda, the boys took it up a notch in the third, Hiroya getting in with a right straight and a couple of body blows; Yudai planting a front kick on his opponent's face. It went to the scorecards, where one judge liked Yudai but the others saw a draw, prompting a tiebreaker round.
Fast -paced action here, Hiroya good with a right straight punch but Yudai's positioning and evasions sparing him any other damage. Yudai was more assertive, threading through another high front kick and scoring with low kicks and combinations to earn the win by split decision and become the first fighter to win the K-1 U-18 belt.
"Ever since I saw the belt, I knew that I wanted it," said Yudai in his post-tournament interview. "I was calm coming in, I was even less nervous than my amateur fights! I did what I wanted to do, I said that I would win and I did it! Next year, I want to get stronger and fight even stronger opponents!"
In the U-18 Reserve Fight, Ryo Murakoshi used a knee to KO Arata Fujimoto.
While all this was happening in Osaka, there was also an affiliated fightsport event taking place at the Saitama Super Arena just outside Tokyo. In the YARENNOKA! 2007 marquee fights, Russian MMA master Emelianenko Fedor took a few punches to the face before submitting South Korean fighter Hong-Man Choi by armbar in the first round; while Kazuo Misaki escaped from an early scare to score an upset KO win over Yoshihiro Akiyama in a battle of Japanese judoka.
Dynamite!! 2007 attracted a sellout crowd of 47,918 to the Kyocera Dome Osaka and was broadcast live across Japan on the TBS Network. For scheduling information in other regions contact local broadcasters. For complete coverage of this and all HERO'S and K-1 events visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp).
Schilt Three-Peats as K-1 World GP Champion
By Monty DiPietro
YOKOHAMA, December 8, 2007 -- Semmy Schilt of
Holland turned aside all challengers tonight to win the K-1 World Grand Prix 07
Final at the Yokohama Arena. Schilt's third-consecutive WGP Championship is
unprecedented in K-1 history. Along with fightsports' most coveted belt, the 34
year-old seidokaikan karate fighter also picked up a winner's purse of
The 15th annual K-1 WGP Final followed the sport's classic eight-man tournament format: Four first-tier bouts advancing a quartet of fighters to the semifinals, the winners there squaring off in the final. All bouts were contested under K-1 Rules, 3min x 3R, with two possible extra tiebreaker rounds.
The first tournament quarterfinal saw veteran kickboxer Jerome LeBanner of France step in against gargantuan South Korean Hong Man Choi, a former ssirium wrestling Grand Champion.
Choi's 28cm/11" height advantage was strikingly evident when the pair met center ring for the referee's pre-fight instructions. LeBanner had joked beforehand that he would have to "bring down a tower," and took up the task from the start, darting in with a left straight and pumping in a right to the body. Throughout the first round LeBanner circled with good evasions, coming forward quickly to score with the left and low kicks. In the second the Frenchman led with the left, and brought a nice right cross over his opponent's guard. Choi did not appear to be bothered by the blows, and rattled LeBanner with a hard left hook late in the round to stay close.
LeBanner made the third thrilling, closing fearlessly with the overhand before coming round from behind to tag the retreating Choi's chops with a right. Surprisingly, Choi made few attempts to bring the knees into this fight, connecting for the first and only time midway through the third. It was too late, though, as the big Korean was now fatigued. As Choi slowed, LeBanner intensified his punching attacks, putting up points with tight combinations to earn a unanimous decision and a trip to the semifinals.
The second quarterfinal pitted Semmy Schilt against Brazilian kyokushin master Glaube Feitosa. This was the first of three wins on Schilt's road to victory, and it was also the hardest.
The two fighters traded low kicks to start, Feitosa with speed, Schilt with power. Feitosa made partial contact with a high kick, while Schilt closed to fight with the knees. No significant damage in the first. The second saw Feitosa with his guard high and close, patiently taking what Schilt was dishing out -- before suddenly firing up a beautiful kyokushin kick that caught the side of Schilt's head hard. It was the strike of the fight, and the crowd rose to their feet as a stunned Schilt wobbled awkwardly backward. Schilt very much looked like he was going down, but his fall was arrested and his balance restored by the ropes. Seeing his chance, Feitosa chased the dizzy Dutchman with fists, but could not finish. The round ended with a recovered Schilt throwing hard low kicks, jabbing with the left and again coming in with the knees. In the third Schilt repeatedly tossed in the jab and hoisted the knees, while but for a decent left straight punch Feitosa could not bring any hurt to the big guy.
A spirited contest, and the WGP laurels might well have graced a different head had Schilt gone down in the second. But as it was Schilt came out of the bout having clearly put more strikes through, and took the win by unanimous decision.
The second bracket opened with Moroccan bad boy Badr Hari, the K-1 Heavyweight Champion, taking on two-time WGP Champion Remy "The Gentleman" Bonjasky of Holland. There is no love lost between this pair, who have lashed out at one another in interviews. This one was expected to be a war.
And it was. An explosive start, speed and power characterizing the countless low kicks that flew in the first. Hari launched a nice high kick here, Bonjasky a flying knee; and both men also went pugilistic, Bonjasky going for the nose, Hari pumping the right to the body. More punch and low kick combinations to start the second before the fighters stood off some, searching for openings. Both kept the guards high and showed good blocking, a hint of animosity evidenced when Hari refused to touch gloves after Bonjasky had signaled a low blow. The pair did not touch gloves at the end of the round either. In the third, legs were further brutalized. Bonjasky threw several left hooks then smacked in a right kick to the top of Hari's leg, and the Moroccan looked to have slowed some by the final bell.
A close one, Bonjasky taking the third on all cards to prevail by the narrowest of majority decisions. But after absorbing so many hard low kicks, one had to wonder whether Bonjasky would be fit for the semis.
The last of the quarterfinals featured three-time WGP Champion Peter Aerts of Holland and 23-year-old Japanese kickboxer Junichi Sawayashiki.
Aerts has competed in all 15 K-1 WGP finals, and the "Dutch Lumberjack" displayed his experience here, cutting his opponent down in just 89 seconds. Aerts started fast with low kicks to put Sawayashiki off-balance. A deftly-placed high kick then caught the Japanese fighter hard on the head for a down. Sawayashiki beat the count, but on resumption Aerts coolly threaded a right straight punch through for a second down and the win. Aerts looked nothing like his 37 years, while Sawayashiki just looked out of his element.
In the first semifinal it was Jerome LeBanner -- the lone non-Dutch fighter remaining in contention -- stepping in against Semmy Schilt.
From the bell LeBanner was the aggressor, and why not -- Schilt must have appeared small after Choi! The Frenchman cocked his head to the left and threw the overhand right to good effect, and Schilt was forced into retreat, pushing LeBanner back with front kicks. Schilt threw some hard low kicks and decisively reversed the flow at the clapper, bringing a hard right knee up to LeBanner's face then laying in with punches to end the round.
There was some confusion at the start of the second, when it appeared that LeBanner's cornermen might not leave the ring. LeBanner pulled rank, waving them out and starting in with a series of punch attacks. However it soon became clear from LeBanner's movement that his right leg was compromised. Schilt exploited this by firing in a low kick for a down. A distressed LeBanner beat the count, but his corner had seen enough and threw the towel, giving Schilt the win.
The second semi featured Remy Bonjasky, who had taken a heap of punishment in his first fight; and Peter Aerts, who had barely been touched in his.
If Bonjasky was hurt he wasn't showing it, exhibiting fluid movement and throwing high kicks from the bell. Bonjasky went to the mat after an exchange of kicks, but this was ruled a slip. Aerts stood his ground, stepping in with the right straight punch, working the body and throwing low kicks along with a knee that slowed Bonjasky down some. Aerts went to the body again in the second, and the closed-up Bonjasky was now hopelessly on the defensive. After being cautioned for a lack of attacks, Bonjasky fired the fists onto his opponent's guard, Aerts responding by mockingly dropping his gloves and inviting Bonjasky in.
Fatigue had caught up with Bonjasky, who was listless in the third, rarely throwing anything and missing badly when he did. Aerts put low kicks in, worked the body again, and picked up enough points to win by comfortable unanimous decision.
The final between Schilt and Aerts marked the third meeting between these two -- Aerts taking the first fight, in Auckland in March of last year; Schilt equalizing in the Championship bout at the WGP 06 Final. The repeat of last year's final showdown provided a dramatic opportunity for the fighters to settle the score.
Aerts may have been the crowd's sentimental favorite, but Schilt would not be denied. The bout began with Aerts moving in ambitiously with overhand punches. Schilt fended off the attacks with low kicks, and went to the clinch when the distance closed. Schilt soon corralled his opponent into the corner and brought up the knee, but Aerts escaped and found the space to resume his pursuit. Schilt put through a left straight punch that didn't look especially dangerous, but caught Aerts square on the chin. Unfortunately for Aerts, as he stumbled backward his right knee buckled, and he fell to the canvas smarting less from the punch than its side effect. With pain etched on his face, Aerts grasped his failed knee, and could only listen in frustration as the count progressed. Aerts could not get up, and Schilt had the Championship.
"I'm very glad to win tonight and to make history by winning the Championship three years in a row," said a beaming Schilt in his post-tournament interview. "It was a good final, there were no easy fights. I think the first fight [against Feitosa] was the hardest, but the first fight is always the most difficult, it decides what happens in the other fights."
Asked if the final with Aerts was a "dream fight," the normally stoic Schilt attempted a joke: "I think if you really want to see a dream fight you have to rent a DVD, like one of the Rocky movies…" Ok, now we know why Schilt is stoic.
Schilt's victory continues a Dutch domination of K-1 that is nothing short of astounding. The three Dutch fighters in tonight's WGP Final all won their quarterfinals, and were only eliminated by fellow Dutchmen; the K-1 WGP Champion has been a Dutchman for the last six years; and in K-1's 15-year history, a Dutch fighter has won the WGP 12 times.
In the tournament Reserve Fight it was Mighty Mo of the United States and Paul Slowinski of Australia. The squat Mo's right hook has been the bane of many an opponent; while Slowinski's karate background and conditioning afford him a more varied repertoire of attack strategies. Slowinski also had one of the greats in his corner -- Ernesto "Mr Perfect" Hoost.
Slowinski answered Mo's early punching charge with a series of low kicks, but Mo stepped through these to persist with the fists, a right opening a cut near Slowinski's eye and prompting a doctor's check. Mo was aggressive again after resumption, closing repeatedly and connecting well with the fists. In the second Mo again took the initiative, but now Slowinski made good on counters, leading with the left straight then firing in a hard low kick to drop the big Samoan. Mo looked like he might just beat the count, and the referee gave him ample opportunity to assume a fighting pose, but Mo could only respond with a grimace, and the fight was called, giving Slowinski the victory.
A Superfight saw veteran Japanese seidokaikan fighter Musashi take on David Dancrade, a French kickboxer making his K-1 debut. Dancrade threw low, middle, high and spinning back kicks in the early going, while Musashi blocked and took his time, testing with the occasional jab or low kick. But suddenly, at the clapper, Musashi fired in a left kick that caught Dancrade on the midsection and sent him to the canvas. The French fighter stayed there, unable to beat the count. A good fighter makes winning look easy by picking his spots, and Musashi's K-1 experience proved the difference here as he did just that.
Also on the card, Jan "The Giant" Nortje South
Africa beat Dong Wook Kim by TKO when the South Korean could not continue after
bashing his foot into The Giant's knee; Takashi Tachikawa of Japan scored a KO
win over Ki Min Kim of South Korea; and Mitsugu Noda of Japan beat Noel Cadet of
France by TKO.
The K-1 World Grand Prix 07 Final drew a boisterous sellout crowd of 17,667 to the Yokohama Arena. The event was broadcast live in Japan on the Fuji TV network; in Korea on XTM; in Hong Kong on PCCW; in Australia on Main Event; in Brazil on Globosat; in Canada on The Fight Network; in Romania on ProTV; in Hungary on RTL; and across Scandinavia on Viasat. Delay-broadcasts will bring the K-1 WGP 07 to a total of 135 countries -- for scheduling information contact local providers. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
K-1 World GP 2007 Final Press Conferernce
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, December 7, 2007 -- On a cool and sunny
afternoon, from high atop an outdoor stage in Tokyo's seaside Odaiba, the eight
men who would be K-1 World Grand Prix 07 Champion met the media and fans on the
eve of fightsports' ultimate showdown.
The K-1 WGP is celebrating its 15th year, with a winning format unchanged since the sport's inception: Four first-tier bouts advance a quartet of fighters to the semifinals, the winners there square off in the final. As such, the man crowned King of Kings will have to get past three different opponents at the Yokohama Arena on Saturday, December 8.
This year's final kicks off with a bout between veteran kickboxer Jerome Le Banner of France and South Korean Hong Man Choi, a 218cm/7'2" former Ssirium Grand Champion.
LeBanner looked relaxed, and was playful with the photographers: "I've been waiting for the big event, and I'm very ready. Hong Man looks like one of the twin towers I have to destroy. And I'll try not to get a pain in my neck looking up at him!"
Choi, who has become something of a fashion horse, appeared today in a burgundy velvet blazer, and quipped: "LeBanner is cool isn't he? Well, I trained hard and will do my best. I know it will be a good result."
The second tournament matchup will pit K-1 Super Heavyweight Champion and two-time and Defending WGP Champion Semmy Schilt of Holland against Brazilian kyokushin master Glaube Feitosa. These two are possibly K-1's most stoic fighters, and fittingly, both wore gray business suits and were reserved with their comments.
Said Schilt: "I'm glad to be here as the Champion, I will show you a great fight and we'll decide who is best."
Feitosa: "Fighting the Champ pleases me, I am ready and set and will put up a great fight."
The second bracket opens with Moroccan bad boy Badr Hari. The K-1 Heavyweight Champion, Hari turned 23 just three days ago; and tomorrow he will face two-time WGP Champion Remy "The Gentleman" Bonjasky of Holland. There is no love lost between this pair, who have lashed out at one another in interviews. But today's cool weather seemed to take the fire out of their comments. A bundled-up Bonjasky showed little emotion, while the meanest thing Hari sent his opponent's way was a stare.
Hari: "Ladies and gentlemen I am happy to be here, happy my friends came from very far away to watch me, and tomorrow I'm ready to knock somebody out."
Bonjasky: "I am doing sport, I want to be the best and this is just another fight. Maybe Badr hates me, maybe he doesn't, but anyway I wish all the fighters good health."
The last of the quarterfinals features three-time WGP Champion Peter Aerts of Holland and 23-year-old Japanese kickboxer Junichi Sawayashiki. Incredibly, the veteran Aerts has competed in all 15 K-1 WGP finals.
Aerts: "I didn't prepare a speech, but I hope to kick some ass tomorrow. My opponent, he looks like he could be my son -- but I haven't seen his mother though so I don't know."
Sawayashiki: "I am fully prepared for tomorrow and will fight my very best."
When a reporter told Sawayashiki many observers believe Aerts will walk over him, the 23 year old smiled and said, "I think so too."
In the tournament Reserve Fight it will be Mighty Mo of the United States and Paul Slowinski of Australia.
Mo: "I feel good, Paul is a top-notch fighter so I'll bring my A-game!"
Slowinski: "It's a big chance for me against Mighty Mo. I was supposed to fight Ray Sefo, so I trained for a boxer with big hands, Mo and Ray have similar styles so it doesn't make much difference."
A Superfight will see Japanese seidokaikan fighter Musashi take on French boxer David Dancrade.
Musashi drew a laugh with his comments: "My opponent was changed at the last minute, I didn't know anything about him, not even if he's orthodox or southpaw, but K-1 sent a photo to my mobile phone. Now I see him in person I can only say he looks a lot like his photo. But I trained hard, I'm ok and I will do a good fight tomorrow."
Dancrade: "It is an honor to fight Musashi, I am well prepared and will do a good fight."
Also on the card, Jan "The Giant" Nortje South Africa will take on Dong Wook Kim of South Korea; Takashi Tachikawa of Japan will mix it up with Ki Min Kim of South Korea; and Mitsugu Noda of Japan will fight Noel Cadet of France.
All seats are all sold out for the K-1 World Grand Prix 07 Final, which commences at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 8 at the Yokohama Arena. The event will be broadcast live in Japan on the Fuji TV network; in Korea on XTM; in Hong Kong on PCCW; in Australia on Main Event; in Brazil on Globosat; in Canada on the Fight Network; in Romania on ProTV; in Hungary on RTL; and across Scandinavia on Viasat. Delay-broadcasts will bring the K-1 WGP 07 to a total of 135 countries -- for scheduling information contact local providers. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Matchups Set for K-1 World GP Final
By Monty DiPietro
SEOUL, September 30, 2007 -- The K-1 World Grand
Prix '07 Final Eight were determined at the Seoul Olympic Complex last night.
Today, in the Grand Ballroom of the COEX Intercontinental hotel, the first-tier
matchups were set for the December 8 Yokohama Arena GP Final.
The pairings were decided with a system that
combines choice and chance. One after the other, in an order decided by lot, the
fighters were free to select any available position on the tournament tree.
Twenty-three year-old Japanese wunderkind Junichi Sawayashiki, who had drawn the number two selection, went against the "start early" strategy, opting to avoid LeBanner and instead put himself in the "H" spot, blue corner in the fourth quarterfinal. LeBanner was seen having a bit of a laugh at this.
Next up was Korean fighter Hong-Man Choi, and the biggest guy in the tournament, who made a bit of a deke on the stage, suggesting he might line up beside Sawayashiki before walking over to the "B" spot and a date with LeBanner. This delighted the Frenchman, who exchanged high-fives with Choi.
"I am very happy to fight this giant guy," said LeBanner, "December 8 will be a new Pearl Harbor!" Said Choi: "I am honored to be fighting someone I respect."
Two-time WGP Champ Peter Aerts of the Netherlands was up next, taking the spot beside Sawayashiki to set up a fight between the tournament's oldest fighter (Aerts is 36) and the second-youngest (Sawayashiki is 23).
"He had a good fight last night," said Aerts, "but I chose him because he has less experience." Sawayashiki just smiled and joked, "Same with me."
Two-time WGP Champ Remy Bonjasky of Holland got the fifth choice, and went to the "F" spot, blue in the 3rd fight. He was followed by Moroccan Badr Hari, the K-1 Heavyweight Champ and youngest fighter in the tournament (Hari's birthday is December 8, he will turn 23 on the day of the tournament). Hari made his way directly to the "E" spot, pairing himself with Bonjasky.
"I've wanted to fight Remy for long time," said Hari, "if I'm lucky I can get him and Peter in one night!" Said Bonjasky: "Hari is talented, but now comes now the real challenge for him."
This left Semmy Schilt, the two-time and Defending WGP Champ and the current K-1 Super Heavyweight Champ to fight Brazilian Kyokushin star Glaube Feitosa. Schilt had the next choice and went to the red corner in the second bout, leaving Feitosa the blue.
Schilt: "I'm just happy to be in this first bracket!" Feitosa: "It's an honor to fight defending champion, I will do my best."
The truly international Final, featuring three
Dutch fighters and one each from France, Morocco, Brazil, South Korea and Japan,
is set for December 8 at the Yokohama Arena. Check the K-1 Official website
(www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for complete fighter information and coverage of all K-1
Sweet 'n Souwer K-1 World Max Final
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, October 3, 2007 -- Shoot boxer Andy Souwer
turned aside three challengers to win the K-1 World Max '07 Final tonight at the
historic Nippon Budokan. It was the 26 year-old Dutch fighter's second World Max
Championship, he also claimed the coveted Belt in 2005.
The popularity of the K-1 World Max 70kg/154lbs weight class rivals that of the World GP. Where the heavyweights have the power, the lighter fighters appeal with speed and stamina, consistently producing thrilling contests. This year's World Max eight finalists represented six different countries.
The first quarterfinal was a keenly anticipated matchup between all-round kickboxer and media darling Masato of Japan, who won the Max Belt in 2003; and Thai fighter Buakaw Por Pramuk, whose positively lethal legs and fast fists made him the two-time and Defending Max Champion.
Both fighters got the low kicks going early, and the first round had plenty of action -- Buakaw scoring with body blows and a high kick, Masato getting an uppercut in before surprising his opponent with an innocent-looking right straight punch to score a down.
The second saw Buakaw good with the hard low kicks, Masato leading with the left straight and deftly picking his spots on the counters, connecting with another uppercut. Masato used the ring to effect, moving to his left, forcing Buakaw to approach with less than perfect positioning. In the third Buakaw needed a down to get back into the fight, but was uncharacteristically tentative with his attacks. Masato meanwhile continued his mastery, focused and fast with the straight punches, closing for another uppercut while absorbing his opponent's low kicks. A fine performance from Masato for the well-earned unanimous decision.
The second matchup featured power puncher Mike Zambidis of Greece, a compact bundle of strength and determination; and Ukrainian Artur Kyshenko, a muay thai fighter who also likes the fists.
A slow first, Kyshenko with occasional high kicks, Zambidis blocking well and countering with low kicks and body blows -- neither fighter connecting decisively, a slight edge to Kyshenko evidenced on two judges' cards. Better action in the second, Zambidis darting inside with punches but Kyshenko employing his 5cm/2" height advantage to arrest the Greek with long low kicks.
In the third, Kyshenko went with the fists, pumping in body blows, while Zambidis launched a couple of flying knees that came up short. Spirited action to end the fight, which one judge gave to Kyshenko and two saw as a draw, triggering a tiebreaker round.
A more aggressive Kyshenko in the deciding extra round, in with proficient kicks and combinations; Zambidis meanwhile circling with a hit-and-run strategy, missing again with his flying knees but getting body blows through. A difficult one to call, the decision going to Kyshenko.
Dutch boxer Albert Kraus' speed, smarts and punches won him the inaugural World Max Championship in 2002. In tonight's third tournament quarterfinal, the 27 year-old Max veteran met the two-time and Defending Japan Max Champ, kickboxer Yoshihiro Sato.
Sato started fast, intent on using his reach and 10cm/4" height `advantage to run Kraus down. But the Dutch fighter was equally aggressive, moving past the straight punches and knees with body blows and uppercuts. Sato sent a number of high kicks up throughout this one, but Kraus' evasions and blocking were sound.
In second, a Sato knee looked to have Kraus in trouble, but the Dutch fighter answered with a dandy straight punch and left hook to regain his momentum. The third was thrilling, both fighters repeatedly clashing. Sato again used his long legs to fire the low kicks, and leaped forward with the knees. But a determined Kraus was smart in all aspects of his game -- his movement and positioning were perfect, and he tallied big time late in the round with a punch combination that snapped Sato's head back and, were it not for the ropes, might have put him down.
One of the best fights on the night, the unanimous decision going to Kraus.
Andy Souwer of Holland set off on the road to glory against muay thai stylist Drago, an Armenian known for both aggression and creativity.
The pair kept their guards high and close and traded hard low kicks and straight punches in the opening moments, Souwer sailing a high kick just over Drago's head. The second saw Drago taking some chances, leading with the jab and closing with body blows, Souwer coming back with the knees and kicks. And then, in an instant, it was over. Drago leaned in with a left straight just as Souwer was bringing a right hook around. The fighters' arms brushed past one another, and Drago's missed and Souwer's connected, knocking the Armenian out cold.
The first semifinal pitted Masato against Kyshenko in a back-and-forth battle. Masato started fast with the low kicks and straight punches to put his opponent on the defensive. Kyshenko rallied promisingly with some big haymakers and high kicks, but was shut down well by Masato's stinging low kicks. Even as Masato appeared to be in control, the limping Kyshenko came back with three hard right straight punches, and now it was Masato in trouble. Kyshenko was chasing his opponent when the bell sounded to end the first, and took the round on two cards.
In the second Kyshenko resumed the punches, Masato the low kicks. The distance had closed, with both fighters center ring and exchanging punches, when Masato rammed in a left hook in to drop Kyshenko, who was unable to beat the count. Masato to the final.
It was Kraus and Souwer in the all-Dutch second semi. Souwer had very little rest time between his quarterfinal and this fight, but nonetheless brought some strong attacks, setting the distance with front kicks, pumping the knee up and putting the low and middle kicks through in the first, picking up the pace in the second to score with combinations, body blows and high kicks. Kraus got inside, only to be stymied by a high and close Souwer guard. A Kraus left hook in the second kept it close, but Souwer had the better stuff overall, connecting with a nice right in the fast-paced third and taking the decision on two cards, with one judge calling a draw. Souwer, with the narrowest of majority decisions, now had a date with Masato in the final.
The dream final brought the crowd on their feet, the encouragement deafening as their favorite son made his way to the ring. Masato took the initiative from the bell, charging at Souwer with straight punches and body blows, getting full contact with a hard left punch. Souwer weathered the attacks, closed up in defense. Souwer's attacks were less than overwhelming, he missed with a high kick, and saw his low kicks answered fearlessly with more straight punches.
But in the second Souwer turned it up a notch or two, throwing low kicks and flying in with the knees; while Masato pressed forward again to deliver the one-two straight punches, unleashing the uppercut that had done him well in his earlier fights. Souwer persisted with the low kicks, and by midway through these were seriously slowing Masato.
The turning point came late in the round, Souwer smashing in a right straight punch, catching his off-balance opponent with a number of hard low kicks. At the clapper Souwer was chasing the retreating Japanese fighter, and when the bell sounded Masato slowly slumped over the ropes, hurt and exhausted.
The ringside camera stayed on Masato between rounds, and the question now was whether he could answer the bell for the third. The time ticked off, the announcer called 'seconds out,' but Masato's cornermen remained huddled round their seated fighter, who had pain tattooed on his face. A quiet, mournful shake of the head and the hint of a smile from Masato. It was over.
Souwer leapt in the air, then dropped to the canvas and bowed to Masato, lifting the Japanese fighter to his feet as the crowd rose to theirs to offer both warriors a standing ovation.
In his post-fight interview, Masato told reporters that injuries to his hand and legs from his bout against Buakaw had badly limited him in his subsequent fights.
Commenting afterward on his strategy for the final, Souwer said, "My trainer Andre Mannaart and I knew Masato wanted to rush me with punches, so we had this plan to use kicks. My ribs and my ankle were hurt in my fight with Kraus, and my right hand was also causing me pain, but I had to give my all against Masato, who is one of the best!"
With the victory, Souwer reclaims the Belt he surrendered to Buakaw last year, and also picks up a cool 20 million in prize money.
"My second son was born just last week," said Souwer, "I will put this money in the bank for him and his brother."
In the Reserve Fight it was Takayuki Kohiruimaki of Japan vs Virgil Kalakoda of South Africa.
Kohiruimaki wanted the distance to throw his kicks, but Kalakoda kept moving inside with the fists. Kohiruimaki had said in the pre-event press conference that he would "find the right position" to defend against Kalakoda's punches. Unfortunately for the fans, the position he choose was the clinch, prohibited under K-1 rules. This got Kohiruimaki numerous warnings and a yellow card. Kalakoda had the much better strikes, several straight punches and a right hook in the second then a left straight in the third for a down. After the count, Kalakoda pounded in tight hooks for another down and the win.
In a Superfight, seidokaikan fighter Kazuya Yasuhiro of Japan took on kickboxer Su Hwan Lee of South Korea.
Fast and furious this one, the fists seeing action, Yasuhiro getting a right through in the first, Lee scoring a down with a left. Lee took the fight to his opponent in the second, scoring another down with a left hook, snapping in the low kicks and ducking a desperate spinning back punch to stay out of harm's way. Yasuhiro has great heart, and kept coming at the Korean, but couldn't muster the down he needed to get back into the fight, which went to Lee by unanimous decision.
A special junior 60kg Superfight saw 15 year-old Japanese kickboxer Hiroya take on 18 year-old Kwon Eolzzang of South Korea.
An estimable contest, the youngsters showing impressive technique and speed. Both put the good low kicks in early, Hiroya scoring with combinations and a nice right overhand, and planting a couple more hard punches in the second. Eolzzang got his stuff going at times, but Hiroya used superior footwork, positioning and speed to put more muscle on the money, earning a comfortable unanimous decision.
In undercard action, Japanese fighter Gori beat compatriot Ryogi by unanimous decision; and Murat Direkci of Turkey scored a second round KO victory over Satoruvashicoba of Japan.
The K-1 World Max '07 Final attracted a sellout
crowd of 14,231 to the Nippon Budokan and was broadcast live across Japan on the
TBS network. For delay broadcast information in other areas contact local
providers. For complete coverage of this and all K-1 World Max and World GP
events visit the K-1 Official website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp).
World Max Final Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, October 2, 2007 -- The popularity of the
K-1 World Max 70kg/154lbs weight class now rivals that of the World GP. Where
the heavyweights have the power, the lighter fighters appeal with speed and
stamina, consistently producing thrilling contests.
This year's World Max top eight hail from six
different countries, each with his own special set of highly-refined skills. One
will be crowned Champion tomorrow in the historic Nippon Budokan. Today, the
hopefuls shared their pre-tournament thoughts in a standing-room-only press
conference at the Hotel Laforet.
More than a few pundits figure the victor in the first fight could go on to win it all. Thai fighter Buakaw Por. Pramuk, the two-time and Defending Champion, has positively lethal legs, and in recent years has shown he has the fists to match. His opponent in the most keenly anticipated matchup of the year is the strongest fighter in Japan, all-round kickboxer and media darling Masato, who won the title in 2003.
Buakaw: "I've had
a strict, hot weather training regime and I have absolute confidence I will make
a fight that all will enjoy, and absolute confidence I will win!"
The second matchup features power puncher Mike Zambidis of Greece, a compact bundle of strength and determination; and another fists-first fighter, Artur Kyshenko of the Ukraine.
Zambidis: "I am
proud to come from country with heroes like Alexander the Great, tomorrow
everyone will see me do justice to my national heritage!"
Dutch boxer Albert Kraus was the inaugural Max Champ, a young man with superior speed and punches. In the third tournament bout, he will meet two-time and defending Max Japan Champ Yoshihiro Sato, who uses his height (185cm/6'1") to fire the knees and kicks.
Kraus: "I will do
my best, I only want to be number one!"
Shoot boxer Andy Souwer of Holland took the World Max Belt in 2005, but lost to Buakaw in the final last year. Tomorrow he will square off against Armenian muay thai stylist Drago, known for both aggression and creativity.
Souwer: "I have
been training to get back the title I lost last year, I will get the belt
tomorrow you'll see!"
In the Reserve Fight it will be Takayuki Kohiruimaki of Japan vs Virgil Kalakoda of South Africa.
"Virgil is a good puncher, I want to position myself properly for the
In a Superfight, Kazuya Yasuhiro of Japan will take on Su Hwan Lee of South Korea; while a special junior 60kg Superfight will see 15 year-old Japanese kickboxer Hiroya take on 18 year-old Kwon Eolzzang of South Korea.
The K-1 World Max '07 Final kicks off at 18h00
on October 3 at the Nippon Budokan. It will be broadcast live in Japan on the
TBS network. For delay broadcast information in other areas contact local
providers. For complete coverage of this and all K-1 World Max and World GP
events visit the K-1 Official website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp)
In with the Old and the New at the K-1 Final Elimination
By Monty DiPietro
SEOUL, September 29, 2007 -- The Europeans fared
well as always, big Hong-Man Choi squeaked out a controversial win, and Japan's
new wunderkind scored an upset tonight at the K-1 World Grand Prix Final
Elimination in Seoul.
Fightsport's most coveted crown, the K-1 WGP Championship is bestowed each year on a single warrior after a worldwide series of qualifying tournaments. On this early autumn evening, the top 16 stepped in for eight fights at the Seoul Olympic Complex, with the eight winners earning a spot at the WGP Final in December.
The Final Elimination is one of the GP season's highlights -- nowhere on the calendar is the talent pool deeper. Each fighter is fresh, has prepared for a specific opponent, and knows he must unleash his all in the do-or-die event. A very vocal crowd further pumped up the intensity for a tournament that was nothing short of terrific.
The first matchup featured Defending K-1 Heavyweight Champion, bad boy Badr Hari of Morocco, facing the surprise winner of August's Battle at the Bellagio tournament in Las Vegas, Doug Viney of New Zealand.
Viney took the early initiative, stepping in and scoring with the straight left, firing the low kicks, hooks and body blows. Hari took his shots from outside, connecting solidly to rattle Viney's jaw, but the Kiwi's superior positioning usually kept him one step ahead. Hari however got the combinations going nicely in the second to force the fight. The lanky Moroccan then perfectly picked a chance, countering a Viney low kick with a devastating right cross to deposit his opponent on the canvas. Viney could not beat the count, and Hari was on his way to the December Final.
"Everything that I do is calculated," said Hari afterward. "He was very well prepared for my jab, after the first round I could see that. So after that I threw my jab, and set him up for the other punch."
The second bout was a clash of size and power versus raw determination, as the two-time and Defending WGP and Super Heavyweight Champion Semmy Schilt of Holland took on this year's Europe GP tournament winner Paul Slowinski of Australia.
Slowinski joked at the pre-event press conference that he had a "big job" ahead of him here, and that was no exaggeration. At 212cm/6'11" Schilt is one of the largest fighters in K-1, and has the technique and speed to boot. One has to go back more than a year to find a loss on Schilt's record.
Schilt closed to work the knees to start, but Slowinski showed good evasions, and challenged the Champ with some solid straight punches. For a time, that is. Scarcely midway through the first, as Slowinski was backed against the ropes, he briefly relaxed his guard and Schilt brought the left knee up hard, catching him on the right of the jaw and crumpling him to the canvas. Slowinski got to his feet, barely in time, but the referee didn't like the look of his bloodied face, and waved his arms to stop the fight, giving Schilt the KO win.
Schilt says his goal is to win the GP Final three times in a row. "I think tonight I've come a little bit closer to that goal," he said after the bout.
A couple of quick and technical fighters went at it in the third bout, as two-time WGP Champion Remy Bonjasky of Holland met Stefan "Blitz" Leko of Germany.
Leko brutalized Bonjasky's gonads when these two met at last year's Final, kicking him below the belt twice times in their quarterfinal matchup, prompting a long break and a postponement. Bonjasky went on record saying he suspected the second blow was intentional. And so, this had the makings of a "revenge" match.
Leko had the low kicks and combinations working from the bell, while an aggressive Bonjasky went with his signature flashy flying knees and high kicks. At one point, when a Bonjasky kick hit Leko's midsection, the German fighter played the crowd with some "I'm alright, what's the big deal?" theatrics.
Maybe he shouldn't have mocked Bonjasky like that, because now "The Flying Gentleman" redoubled his efforts, and in a moment had flown in with a right knee to the jaw. A howling strike, which downed Leko. A convincing KO romp for Bonjasky, who after a trying string of personal tragedies looks to be back in absolutely top fighting form.
"My mother passed away recently," said Bonjasky, "and winning this fight was like giving a trophy to her, so I'm really glad."
In the next bout it was another German, power-punching Chalid "Die Faust," taking on the Brazilian with the out-of-this-world kicks, Glaube Feitosa.
Die Faust came out swinging, but it was Feitosa who had the better first, controlling the distance with front kicks, countering with a left knee to score an early down and answering his opponent's haymakers with a left straight punch to score a second down late in the round. This one went the distance and the crowd loved it -- there were gasps of astonishment when Feitosa serpentined his kyokushin kicks; and roars of approval when the plucky Die Faust weathered repeated the blows but continued to come back on the attack.
Both fighters got through in the second and third with uppercuts, straight punches and kicks. Die Faust ate a hard knee and stumbled some in the third, but showed a good chin as Feitosa could not finish him, and the bout ended with no further downs. Really a great, fast and spirited contest, Feitosa's hand raised by the referee but the boisterous standing ovation clearly going to both fighters.
In his post-fight interview, Feitosa spoke about his preparations for the December Final: "I train to get stronger, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I will -- it takes a lot of work to improve. Rather than focusing on one thing, I know that I need work on everything."
Next up, French K-1 veteran Jerome Le Banner took on late substitute Young Soo Park of Korea. The scheduled qualification bout between LeBanner and Ruslan Karaev, was turned into a Superfight when Karaev could not make it to the event.
Park started aggressively, firing in three fast low kicks to elicit cheers of encouragement from the crowd. But LeBanner was not buying into the Cinderella scenario, and marched forward with the fists. Now it was the Frenchman putting on the pressure, and it didn't take long before Park looked out of his league. A LeBanner right hook proved the decisive blow, sending the Korean down hard, where he stayed, sorely unable to beat the count.
Remarking this year's Final falls on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, LeBanner joked with reporters afterward, "I want the fight in December to be a big Pearl Harbor. Banzai!"
The sixth fight featured Japanese kickboxing sensation Junichi Sawayashiki, who stunned the K-1 world by defeating LeBanner this March, and turned 23 only last week. Sawayashiki's opponent was compatriot Yasuke Fujimoto, the Asian GP '07 Champion.
Fujimoto started with low kicks, and put a couple of straight punches through to bloody Sawayashiki's nose, prompting a couple of doctor checks. Sawayashiki looked skittish, not committing to attacks even as he absorbed more blows from Fujimoto.
In the second Sawayashiki swung wildly but was rarely on target, until he got a knee and punch combination through to drop Fujimoto. Now it was Fujimoto, bleeding from above his right eye, who got the doctor check. Full-on fisticuffs followed resumption, and at the clapper Sawayashiki brought up a right high kick to score a second down.
Fujimoto was terribly wobbly in the third, his legs buckling at even the suggestion of a strike. After calling a number of slips, finally the referee ruled a down, then a second, then a third, and Sawayashiki had the win.
Testimony to the youngster's spirit, he fought on to victory despite having had his nose broken in the first round.
Three-time WGP Champ Peter "The Dutch
Lumberjack" Aerts has, incredibly, appeared in every WGP Final since K-1's
inception in 1993. To stretch his streak to 15, he'd have to get past another
seasoned veteran, Kiwi slugger Ray Sefo.
The ringside camera zoomed in on the doubled-over Sefo, revealing tears streaming down his face. When Aerts wrapped his arms around his long-time friend, the crowd knew this was no time for jeers, and offered the pair a warm round of applause.
"It was not a problem," said Aerts afterward. "Ray said he was a little bit sick, but the fight was not too much of a problem. I wanted to hurt his legs and that worked out."
The Main Event saw local hero, the gargantuan Hong-Man Choi, in a revenge match against the only fellow to beat him this year, hard-hitting Samoan-American Mighty Mo.
With the crowd chanting his name, Choi looked down on his rotund opponent for a long while before making a move. Mo tried a kick to no avail, and came in with haymakers that made only partial contact. Finally Choi got the knee in, then a front kick, then swatted at Mo with a left. But Mo stood his ground, despite more swatting and hammer punches from Choi.
In the second Mo barreled in with the fists and this seemed to unnerve Choi, who answered with feeble jabs. A Choi low blow toward Mo's groin brought controversy -- the referee did not call a time out, but instead issued a standing count. The two then briefly mixed it up, Mo putting Choi in the corner and connecting with a couple of overhands, while absorbing a knee.
The third saw Choi, his left glove glued to the side of his head in perpetual guard, smacking down the occasional hammer punch, stretching in front kicks and scoring with a good hard middle kick midway through; Mo at darting in from distance to throw the overhands, tagging the Korean with a right and a left.
The judges gave it to Choi, but the decision hardly received the reaction one would associate with a convincing win.
"I feel I was robbed. I should have won," said a disappointed Mo after the fight. "He must have picked up a new technique -- the kick below the belt! I really think that there should be a third fight. There was a lot of favoritism here, next time I want to fight somewhere else."
Informed of Mo's protestation, Choi said, "I don't have any problems with the decision -- I wanted to beat him by KO but beating him by decision is good. I was very nervous yesterday, I kept remembering Mighty Mo from that time, so I only slept for three hours and I was tired. If he wants a rematch, anytime!"
Tonight's eight winners will participate in a draw here in Seoul tomorrow, September 30, to determine the matchups for the December WGP Final.
In other action on the card, the Opening Fight saw 217cm/7'3" Young Hyun Kim of South Korea use the big knees and low kicks to beat Ryushi Yanagisawa of Japan. In undercard action Kyoutaro Ranger of Japan won over South Korean Kyoung Suk Kim under the three-downs-in-a-round rule; while in an all-Korea match, Min Soo Kim beat Randy Kim by decision.
The K-1 World Grand Prix '07 Final Elimination
attracted a crowd of 16,652 to the Olympic Complex in Seoul. It was broadcast
live in Japan on the Fuji TV network and in South Korea on CJ Media. The event
will be delay-broadcast in 135 countries, contact local providers for scheduling
information. Check the K-1 official website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official
results and coverage of this an all K-1 action.
K-1 WGP '07 Final Elimination Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
SEOUL, September 29, 2007 -- Fightsport's most
coveted crown, the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship, is bestowed on a single
warrior at the conclusion of a year of regional qualifying tournaments. From
Honolulu to Amsterdam to Hong Kong to Las Vegas and beyond -- the battles have
been waged. And now, from the hundreds of hopefuls have emerged 16 men who stand
on the verge of greatness.
Tomorrow these fighters will step into the ring at the Seoul Olympic Complex for eight single-match contests, fought under K-1 Rules, with the victorious octet advancing to the WGP Final in December. Nowhere on the WGP calendar is the talent pool deeper or the action more thrilling -- each fighter is fresh, has prepared for a specific opponent, and knows he must unleash his all in the do-or-die event.
On the eve of the tournament, participating
fighters appeared in a press conference at the COEX International Hotel to share
their thoughts with local and international media.
Said Hari: "Last year I was in the final 16 but didn't make it. This time it will be different. I trained hard and I'm ready to KO someone!" Viney: "I'm also ready, and I'm sure the fight will be exciting!"
The second bout is a clash of size and power versus raw determination, as the Defending WGP and Super Heavyweight Champion Semmy Schilt of Holland takes on this year's Europe GP tournament winner Paul Slowinski of Australia.
Schilt: "I'm happy to be here as Champion, I want to show a great fight, I don't care who I meet as long as he comes in 2nd!" Slowinski: "Semmy's a big guy so I have a big job tomorrow, but I feel good about fighting him and I'm looking forward to it!"
A couple of quick and technical fighters will go at it in the third bout, as two-time WGP Champion Remy Bonjasky of Holland meets Stefan "Blitz" Leko of Germany.
always exciting to be here in Korea, I will do my best to win so my fans here
can have a great time!"
In the next bout it will be another German, power-punching Chalid "Die Faust," taking on the Brazilian with the out-of-this-world kicks, Glaube Feitosa.
Feitosa: "It is my
second time here in Seoul, I will do my best to perform at the top of my
French K-1 veteran Jerome Le Banner was scheduled to fight Ruslan Karaev, but K-1 reported that the Russian fighter had been injured in a traffic accident and could not make the trip to Seoul, and that a replacement would be announced "in a few hours." This prompted undercard fighter Young Soo Park, during in his comments to the press, to declare to K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa his strong desire to fight LeBanner.
"Well, I hope the boss can take the offer of this Korean guy," piped in LeBanner, "I don't know him, but why not give a new man the chance to go for my chin, rock and roll!"
Sure enough, scarcely an hour after the press conference had finished, it was decided that Park, whom Tanikawa termed "passionate and courageous," would get his wish.
The sixth fight will feature 23 year-old Japanese kickboxer Junichi Sawayashiki, who stunned the K-1 world by defeating LeBanner this March. Sawayashiki will fight Asian GP '07 Champion Yasuke Fujimoto, also of Japan.
Fujimoto: "It is
my 2nd time here in Korea, last time I had a good performance, and I want to win
again this time!"
Three-time WGP Champ Peter 'The Dutch Lumberjack" Aerts has, incredibly, appeared in every WGP Final since K-1's inception in 1993. If he wants to stretch the streak to 15, he'll have to get past another veteran, Kiwi slugger Ray Sefo.
we're two old men, and only one can be in final, that's all!"
The Main Event will see local hero Hong-Man Choi in a revenge match against the only fellow to beat him this year, hard-hitting Samoan-American Mighty Mo.
Choi: "It's my
third year now in the World Grand Prix, I want to do my best to win this time!"
The K-1 World Grand Prix '07 Final Elimination
kicks off at 17h00 at the Olympic Complex in Seoul and will be broadcast live in
Japan on the Fuji TV network and in South Korea on CJ Media. The event will be
delay-broadcast in 135 countries, contact local providers for scheduling
information. Check the K-1 official website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official
results and coverage of this an all K-1 action.
Doug Viney Wins K-1 Las Vegas Shocker
By Monty DiPietro
LAS VEGAS, August 11, 2007 -- Doug Viney came to
the Bellagio Hotel and Casino carrying his own bags, inconspicuous in an
entourage that included K-1 superstar Ray Sefo and World Grand Prix Tournament
favorite Alexandre Pitchkounov. Viney had a minor role to play, he was slotted
for the tournament reserve bout -- an undercard contest that takes place while
the house lights are half on and the stands are half empty, long before
pyrotechnics and music trumpet the "elite" fighters' arrival. But when the night
was over, Viney was standing center stage with the tournament trophy and a spot
in next month's K-1 WGP Final Elimination in Seoul. It is an understatement to
say that this was one hell of an achievement for Doug Viney.
Viney, 32, was born in Auckland. He had only five amateur bouts to his name when he first fought professionally in 2001. In 2004, Viney represented New Zealand, in a losing cause, in Super Heavyweight Boxing at the Athens Olympics. Five weeks ago, he began training with Ray Sefo, whom he has known since he was a teen. "We worked a lot on the basics," said Sefo after Viney's victory. "Tonight Doug proved what he can do, and this is just the beginning!"
Viney's road to victory started with a 2nd round TKO of American fighter Mahmoud Fawzy the reserve fight.
"I expected to have one fight," said Viney, "and winning that was awesome. But what happened afterward was bloody marvelous!"
First up in tournament action was Viney's sparring partner, karate stylist Alexandre Pitchkounov of Russia. At fight time Pitchkounov was the favorite to win it all, sitting at 8/5 on the Bellagio Sports Book odds board. His opponent was Tsuyoshi Nakasako of Japan, the longshot at 25/1.
Pitchkounov controlled the distance well throughout, snapping in low, front and middle kicks and making good contact with the left straight punch. Nakasako fired in the fists in the second, but Pitchkounov was better on the counters, and caught the Japanese fighter in the face with a front kick before scoring a down with a left hook. The pair stayed inside through much of the third, Pitchkounov picking his spots and getting the better of Nakasako to take the fight by comfortable unanimous decision and advance to the semifinals.
Ranked second on the odds board, at 3/1, was former American Armed Forces Heavyweight Boxing Champion "Savage" Rick Cheek. To get anywhere in this tournament Cheek first had to get past the formidable Imani "Juggernaut" Lee, also a former heavyweight boxer, and the biggest fighter in the tournament at 141kg/310lbs.
A good first round in this bout, both men pushing with low kicks and jabs, Cheek showing superior evasions and combinations, Lee surprisingly technical and quick for his size. The second saw Cheek dancing and circling, flying in a knee; and Lee powering in a left hook or two to keep it close. A Cheek spinning back punch smacked Lee across the lip, and Cheek also put a left straight through -- but the durable Lee was not fazed, and kept tossing in the low kicks. Lee came out fast in the third, chasing his opponent with the fists. Midway through, after taking an innocent-looking right punch to the midsection, Lee bent forward in pain, motionless in the center of the ring. Cheek leapt in with a knee that mercifully missed before the referee stepped in to call the fight for Cheek. Lee protested, but Cheek had the win and trip to the semis.
The third quarterfinal featured a couple of muay thai fighter -- American Patrick Barry, fresh from a stint in Amsterdam training with the legendary Ernesto Hoost; and Rickard Nordstrand of Sweden.
The smallest fighter in the tournament at 90kg/199lbs, Nordstrand nevertheless brought a lot of spirit to this thrilling bout. An early Barry left high kick sent the Swede to the canvas -- some saw a slip, but the referee issued a count. Behind on points, Nordstrand fired in a bunch of low kicks and stung Barry's left leg. But the American's superior power and low kicks took their toll on Nordstrand. Barry showed excellent technique, focus, blocking and balance, evading Nordstrand's knees on several occasions. Barry won it in the second when a low kick put Nordstrand down past the count.
The last of the quarterfinals saw two more muay thai fighters mix it up. Belorussian Zabit Samedov, who at 23 was youngest in the tournament, met Esh'Chadar Brown Ton of the United States.
Fast-paced action here, Samedov the more aggressive and confident fighter, getting the better stuff through. Brown Ton had his chances, but inexperience at this level of competition handicapped the Texan. Brown Ton's face was bloodied in the first, and he went down from a barrage of body blows at the clapper. Bravely, the American answered the bell to start the second, even as ringside officials were checking the cut on his face. Samedov chased his opponent, spinning in a rear heel hick to the midsection to put Brown Ton down for good. A full-throttle effort from the Belorussian, and a trip to the semis.
Viney got into the tournament when Rick Cheek could not continue due to a leg injury sustained in his bout with Lee. Under K-1 tournament rules, Viney was parachuted into the tournament to face Alexandre Pitchkounov.
"I only had about 10 minutes notice," said Viney, "and I was didn't really want to fight with Alex because he trains in the same camp as me. My brain was 50/50."
But the shot at glory is what every reserve fighter dreams of, so Viney stepped into the ring. The Kiwi was measured but able in his attacks early on, firing in occasional low and high kicks, denying Pitchkounov his distance and coming in quickly with sharp counters. By the bell Pitchkounov's nose was bloodied and he had not landed a single solid blow -- a great start for Viney.
The pace slowed in the second, but for a couple of punching exchanges midway through, with Viney putting through the better stuff. Pitchkounov landed a promising knee, but Viney stayed mobile and out of harm's way, ducking and blocking and repeatedly stepping in with straight punches and low kicks. A unanimous decision for Viney, and a trip to the final.
The second semi was a power-on-power showdown between Patrick Barry and Zabit Samedov. A fast start with the boys closing hard -- head-to-head, pumping the fists. Samedov scored with a hard straight punch before Barry got a high kick up, which Samedov answered with some Ray Sefo-style taunting. In the second both had chances, Barry working low kicks and a good overhand right, Samedov smart with his footwork and movement, scoring from inside with body blows and an uppercut. The third saw crowd favorite Barry looking confident, blocking or evading Samedov's high kicks, countering well with low kicks. A split decision which the crowd did not at all like -- the win and trip to the finals going to Samedov.
And so we had the Viney the reserve fighter and Samedov the youngster in the final.
Viney looking good with his meat-and-potatoes punching attacks, while Samedov, confident to the point of cockiness, went with style and creativity. Viney opened with two hard low kicks, then a right hook that made partial contact. An aggressive Samedov launched a high kick but this was blocked. Viney showed good focus and timing to rattle Samedov with a right straight punch here. In the second Samedov blocked a Viney high kick and countered with a solid low kick and right hook, as the Belorussian's footwork evolved to dancing and taunting. A hard low kick came late in the round, which Samedov won on all cards.
But Samedov, who was battling the flu, appeared to be tiring. In the third Viney got the fists going, and although Samedov connected with a handsome left hook, Viney was countering well, threading in a right straight punch and simply outworking his opponent. It was close. Samedov later said he was sure he'd won; and the crowd wanted another round. But the judges had seen enough to give it to Viney by the slimmest of unanimous decisions.
"To fight at this level, with these guys, is a dream," said Viney afterward. "I feel now that if I continue to train properly, focusing on myself, I can take on the world!"
In the card's Superfights:
Ray "Sugarfoot" Sefo of New Zealand has made Las Vegas his home for the last year. Tonight, the 36 year-old slugger played host to Bjorn Bregy of Switzerland. A karate stylist, the 6'8"/203cm Bregy won the K-1 Europe GP in Amsterdam last year.
A tentative first, with both men testing -- Sefo with low kicks, Bregy using his long reach to tag with the jab, putting up a hard high kick which Sefo blocked. Frequently, Sefo closed with one-two footwork and left jabs, looking to work the hook or uppercut from inside, but was stymied by Bregy's evasions. A couple of Sefo punch and high kick combinations started the second, and the Kiwi made partial contact with a spinning back kick. Bregy was able to control distance though, and but for a brief series of body blows Sefo still could not close to effect. Bregy glanced a right high kick off Sefo's chin in the third, and got a decent knee up from the clinch. A flurry of Sefo punches late in the fight were not enough to even things up, and Bregy notched the upset win by split decision.
"It was a good decision," said Bregy, "He was really strong, which surprised me, but I know I did a good job."
Said Sefo: "I don't want to cry over spilled milk, but I hoped he'd stand and trade. Instead he was always running away, he looked like a 100 meter sprinter!"
In the penultimate Superfight, German kickboxer Stefan Leko -- whose straight punch KO of Peter Aerts at the Bellagio made the ESPN year-end sports highlight reel in 2001 -- took on American powerhouse Mighty Mo, a big fellow with one heck of a right hook.
Leko started with a spinning back kick and spent most of the first throwing low kicks. Mo led with the left jab, pushing forward, finally throwing the right hook late in the round, missing but following with a left that made partial contact. Leko brought the spinning back kick again in the second, otherwise it was mostly low kicks from the German. With his guard high, Leko did not present much of a target for Mo's right, and met the American with low kicks and the clinch when he attempted to close. Mo threw low kicks throughout, but these did not appear to bother Leko at all. Mo did land some fists in the third, but Leko was better with a spinning back kick and a few good straight punches of his own. Mo pushed repeatedly with the left but his power potential was never realized, and the judges gave the fit and quick Leko a unanimous decision.
The third Superfight featured Petr Vondracek of the Czech Republic and Ariel Mastov of Israel. A spunky Mastov downed Vondracek early with a right, and after resumption planted a dandy spinning kick to keep the pressure on. Vondracek got the upper hand in the second, landing a high kick and a couple of straight punches then chasing his opponent with a hook for the equalizer. Vondracek wanted to overwhelm Mastov here but the Israeli showed he could take a lot of punishment, and was able to mount creative attacks on the counter. In the third Vondracek had the textbook one-two punch and low kick combinations working, but Mastov again showed flexibility, doing well with body blows and stunning his opponent with a series of overhand rights. Vondracek looked tired and Mastov exploited a defensive lapse, spinning in a heel kick to the midsection to drop the Czech fighter, who could not beat the count. The crowd loved this one.
All fights were conducted under K-1 Rules (3Min. x 3R with a possible tiebreaker).
The K-1 World Grand Prix '07 in Las Vegas
attracted a sellout crowd to the Bellagio Grand Ballroom. It was broadcast in
Japan on the Fuji TV network, with rebroadcasts set for a total of 135 countries
-- contact local networks for scheduling information. Visit the K-1 Official
Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and coverage of this and all
K-1 Battle at the Bellagio '07 Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
LAS VEGAS, August 9,2007 -- Whether it's
billabong poker, indoor skydiving or a comely companion -- you can find just
about anything you're looking for in Las Vegas. But this morning Scott Coker's
K-1 USA production team were stumped. Finally, just minutes before the World
Grand Prix in Las Vegas press conference, Tony Valente rushed into the Bellagio
Hotel and Casino with a wide smile on his face. His frantic search, covering
more than 65km/40miles, was a success -- Valente had found the flag of the
Republic of Belarus.
"I've fought six times in Vegas, and I win all my fights here!" said German kickboxer Stefan Leko, whose straight punch KO of Peter Aerts at the Bellagio made the ESPN year-end sports highlight reel in 2001. "My motivation comes from a love of the sport, nothing is more beautiful than wining a fight, it is a great feeling!"
Leko's Superfight opponent Saturday will be American Mighty Mo -- a big fellow with one heck of a right hook. "I feel strong," said Mo, "Stefan Leko is up there with the best and my goal is to be there too, so I will bring the best to compete with the best. I have learned a lot, what mistakes not to make, and I'm sure it will be a good fight!"
K-1 veteran Ray "Sugarfoot" Sefo of New Zealand has made Las Vegas his home for the last year. The 36 year-old slugger will take on Bjorn Bregy of Switzerland in another highly-anticipated Superfight. "Age is just a number, I feel like I'm 24" laughed Sefo. "Martial arts has been part of my life for 20 yrs, I got my first gloves at age 5. I love training, I wake up and run from 6 am, and I'm in the gym hitting pads every evening. My opponent is very strong and he will come to fight, which I love -- don't blink or you may miss it, because it won't go to the last round!"
Said Bregy, who won the K-1 Europe GP last year: "It's my first time to fight Ray, although I've watched him fight many times. Of course I know he's one of the best, but if I didn't think I had a chance to beat him I wouldn't be here."
The third Superfight will feature Petr Vondracek of the Czech Republic and Ariel Mastov of Israel. Both men were guarded with their comments, saying that they were in fine shape and would put on a great bout.
The K-1 event's eight-man tournament will advance a single fighter to this year's WGP Final Elimination in Seoul. At press conference time, the Bellagio Sports Book odds board had Rick Cheek as the favorite to win it all. The former American Armed Forces Heavyweight Boxing Champion was listed at 9/5.
"Fighting in K-1 is a dream come true," said Cheek, who at 122kg/270lbs is the second-biggest fighter in the tournament. "It's great to represent the USA, and I will win it for the USA! Of course first I have to get past this monster, Imani Lee!"
Cheek's quarterfinal opponent -- the "monster Imani Lee" -- is the biggest fighter in the tournament at 135kg/297lbs. A former heavyweight boxer, Lee was relaxed and playful with the press: "I'm not saying I'm the greatest, but I'm the latest and I'm here to win, it's my time and I'm going to make it happen!"
Also fighting in the first bracket is karate stylist Alexandre Pitchkounov, who ranked second on the odds board at 3/1.
"Of course," said the reserved Russian, "the best will win."
Pitchkounov's opponent is Tsuyoshi Nakasako of Japan, the tournament longshot at 25/1. Promised Nakasako, "I will push myself to the limit this time!"
The first fight in the second bracket will see muay thai fighter Patrick Barry of the United States take on Rickard Nordstrand of Sweden. Barry tragically lost a grandmother and his family home when Hurricane Katrina hit his native New Orleans two years ago. "Things are on the up with us now, the hurricane was not enough to stop us," said Barry. "To prepare for this tournament, I trained with Ernesto Hoost in Amsterdam, because I believe to beat the best you have to train with the best!" At the time of the press conference, Barry was third on the odds board at 7/2.
Nordstrand, meanwhile, divides his time between muay thai and ice hockey -- consistently leading the Swedish Elite League in penalty minutes. "I like to train, it's fun, and I hope to win Saturday," said the lean Nordstrand. "Maybe all the skating has built up my leg muscles!"
The last of the quarterfinals will feature two more muay thai fighters -- Belorussian Zabit Samedov, who at 23 is the youngest man in the tournament; and Esh'Chadar Brown Ton of the United States. Due a travel hitch, Samedov did not arrive in Las Vegas in time for the press conference. Brown Ton was here, and the Texas pastor they call "The Dispossessor" assured all present: "Thanks to my God, in my mind I can already see victory ahead."
In the tournament Reserve Fight, Doug Viney of New Zealand will take on Mahmoud Fawzy of the United States.
All fights will be conducted under K-1 Rules (3Min. x 3R with a possible tiebreaker).
The K-1 World Grand Prix '07 in Las Vegas kicks off at 7:00 pm in the Bellagio Grand Ballroom. It will be broadcast in Japan on the Fuji TV network, with rebroadcasts in 135 countries -- contact local networks for scheduling information. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Fujimoto Defends K-1 Asia GP Title in Hong Kong
By Monty DiPietro
HONG KONG, August 5, 2007 -- Yasuke Fujimoto
took a circuitous route but arrived victorious tonight at the K-1 Asia World
Grand Prix Tournament in Hong Kong. It was the second consecutive Asia GP title
for the 32 year-old Japanese karate fighter.
K-1 in Hong Kong Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
HONG KONG, August 3, 2007 -- With the mercury
hitting near-record highs, the Hong Kong Observatory this morning issued a "Very
Hot Weather Warning." It is sizzling in Asia's World City -- especially for the
fighters who will do battle in this Sunday's historic K-1 Asia GP 07 in Hong
Masato leads Charge of Champions at K-1 World Max
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, June 28, 2007 -- Masato won in the Main
Event and the three other World Max Grand Champions also came through in
convincing style tonight at the World Max '07 Final Elimination.
K-1 World Max '07 Final Elimination Press Conference
By Monty DiPietro
TOKYO, June 27, 2007 -- Action in this year's K-1
World Max series heats up tomorrow with a do-or-die showdown featuring 18 of the
best fighters in the popular 70kg/154lbs weight class. Set for the historic
Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo, the Final Elimination tournament will advance
fighters to October's K-1 World Max final.
Today, participating fighters shared their
pre-event thoughts with the media in a standing-room-only press conference at
the Meridian Pacific Hotel.
The Main Event tomorrow will feature the '03 World Max Champion Masato of Japan; and the defending Hero's mixed martial arts middleweight champion, JZ Calvin of Brazil. Masato was relaxed as usual, saying "I will just go to the fight and do my best. The only thing I'm worried about, with this hot weather, is drinking too much water and getting bloated. So I'll watch out for that!" JZ was similarly casual: "I am a fighter but I am also a fan, and this is an awesome card so I'm looking forward to the event. In my fight with Masato we have two champions, and I hope people will enjoy it!"
The penultimate match up will see defending and two-time World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand take on Western European World Max Champion Nicky Holtzken of Holland. Buakaw: "I want to show the fans a both interesting and entertaining match" Holtzken: "This is my first time fighting in Japan and I am happy and confident and I can't wait -- there will be fireworks in the ring I promise!"
The 2005 World Max champion and runner-up in last year's final is shoot boxer Andy Souwer of Holland. Tomorrow he will meet muay thai fighter Ole Laursen of Denmark, one of several "producer's picks" on the card. Souwer did not attend the press conference, as he was in the steam room sweating off a little extra weight to qualify later today at 70kg. Said Laursen: "I trained hard for this match, and I hope Andy did too. I am ready!"
Armenian muay thai fighter Drago made it to the World Max semifinals in '06. For another shot at glory, tomorrow he will have to get past a little guy with a big punch, producer's pick Mike Zambidis of Greece. Drago: "I will show a really nice fight." Zambidis: "I haven't decided what I'll wear tomorrow, but I do know I will put on a spectacular fight -- I want the audience to get their money's worth!"
The World Max Japan Champion for the last two years is Yoshihiro Sato. Tomorrow, the lanky kickboxer will be tested by World Max Eastern Europe Champion, muay thai fighter Denis Schneidmiller of Germany. Sato: "Last year I lost against Buakaw, this year I will use that experience to advance!" Schneider: "I want to have a special match tomorrow, I think it's going to be a great one!"
Albert Kraus of Holland was the first-ever World Max Champion. Kraus made it to the final eight last year, and tomorrow he will face fellow boxer and '06 final eight fighter, Virgil Kalakoda of South Africa. Speaking in Japanese, Kraus promised to do his best. The easy-going Kalakoda joked, "There are already three Dutchmen in this tournament, Albert -- I think that's too many and so I'm afraid you aren't going to make it through!"
A producer's pick, muay thai fighter Artur Kyshenko of the Ukraine, will step in against Asian World Max Champion Soo-Hwan Lee of South Korea. Kyshenko: "I feel great to be here, I want to come to this sort of pleasant press conference more often, so I will do my best tomorrow in order to be invited back!" Lee: "I want to show fans all over the world my surprising ability."
Kohiruimaki: "I know that Shinobu has stamina and is good fighter, I look forward to the fight!" Amara: "I want to make this my most beautiful fight ever!"
There will also be a couple of Superfights on the card: kickboxers Takayuki Kohiruimaki of Japan and Tsogto "Shinobu" Amara of Mongolia will mix it up; and Japanese boxer Tatsuji will go up against Nigeria's Andy Ologun.
All fights will be conducted under K-1Rules
(3min x 3R with a possible tiebreaker round). The action kicks off at 6 p.m. at
the Nippon Budokan, and will be broadcast live in Japan on the TBS Network. For
scheduling information elsewhere contact local broadcasters. As always, visit
the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for complete coverage of this and
all K-1 tournaments.
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