Friday, October 26, 2007

the K-1 Final Elimination at SEOUL

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.It was all Aerts in the first. Although Sefo managed a nice right straight punch that cocked Aerts' head back, he looked less than 100% here. The Lumberjack got the fists and textbook combinations in at will, and repeatedly chopped Sefo down with low kicks, these finally scoring a down late in the round. At the bell Sefo uncharacteristically walked away from his opponent. If there was any doubt Sefo was in distress it was confirmed when he did not answer the bell.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.The K-1 World Grand Prix '07 Final Elimination attracted a crowd of 16,652 to the Olympic Complex in Seoul.

i like muay thai and k-1.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sweet 'n Souwer K-1 World Max Final in Tokyo

Japan, 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.

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