LeBanner Beats Abidi; Schilt Wins Paris GP
PARIS, May 27, 2004 -- Jerome LeBanner came out better than Cyril Abidi in a grueling battle of the Gauls Superfight; and Dutch Seidokaikan Karate fighter Semmy Schilt turned aside all challengers to capture the crown in the K-1 European Grand Prix 2005.
Champions Win at World Max '05 Open Tournament
TOKYO, May 4, 2005 -- The three K-1 World Max Champions showed why they are what they are, soundly defeating their respective challengers at the K-1 World Max 2005 World Open Tournament today at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo's bayside district of Odaiba.
The K-1 World Max, with its 70kg (154lbs) weight class and fast-paced fights, has developed enormously popularity since its inception in 2003. Thus far a Dutch fighter (Albert Kraus, 2003); a Japanese (Masato, 2004); and a Thai (Buakaw Por Pramuk, 2004) have won the Championship Final. All three Champions were on the card tonight.
In the main event, it was Masato against hugely popular Korean Muay Thai fighter Chi Bin Lim, who brought a record of 43 wins in 49 fights (28 by KO) to his K-1 debut. Masato is Japan's best kickboxer -- a smart and quick competitor whose good looks have garnered him a legion of young Japanese female fans. Many of them were here tonight, gleefully shrieking their heartthrob's name as he strutted into the ring.
The "Silver Wolf" got right down to business, snapping in low kicks from the bell. Masato also got a right punch through early on. Although both fighters missed frequently with their kicks, Masato probably had the better in the first -- and definitely had the better in the second. Here a right straight punch got in, and with Lim stunned, Masato pushed forward with a volley of punches that backed Lim into the corner.
In the third, again, Masato was superior. A fighter who in the past has opted to stay outside and wear his opponent down with low kicks, Masato was more the boxer on this night, repeatedly following up his low kicks by leading with the jab then stepping in to mix it up with the fists. Lim didn't look bad, and had great kicks, but Masato was better, tagging the Korean with a left straight and following this up with a right and then another midway through the round to record the bout's best blows and bag the win.
Both fighters were bloodied afterward. A good bout that saw Masato -- a well balanced fighter to begin with -- further fine-tuning his style in advance of this year's World Max Final.
Masato showed up for his interview with his left shin swollen and iced, testimony to Lim's hard kicks. "I have been having a hard time with my health lately," smiled the Japanese fighter, "I had a bad cold last month, and I wasn't able to train for a couple of weeks. That was a problem, but I still knew I was going to win, because I was mentally prepared. Now I feel happy of course, because I have taken one more step toward winning [the World Max Final] in Yokohama this July."
Defending World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand is another fellow who figures on winning in Yokohama. Buakaw met Belorussian fighter Vasily Shish in the card's penultimate Superfight. Shish is a protégé of Alexey Ignashov's manager Igor Jushko. Both Shish and Buakaw are Muay Thai fighters, and both are but 22 years of age, making this the youngest pairing on the card. But despite their youth, these fighters have no lack of experience at the top level, and that was evident here tonight.
It was no surprise that Buakaw went to the low kicks from the start, and his are mighty hard low kicks. The Thai wunderkind snapped in low kicks and used front kicks to control the distance, but Shish showed some skill with his legs as well, threatening with high kicks, and neither fighter was able to dominate in the first. The two mixed it up more in the second, and here Shish got a high kick up to Buakaw's head. But the Champ got his licks in too, and the relative reverberations of the impacts confirmed that Buakaw had a little more on his stuff than Shish did.
Again it was kicking in the third, Buakaw increasingly fancy now, flying in with the knees in search of a KO, just missing with a high kick against an off-balance Shish. A good technical fight -- Buakaw his usual near-perfect self, Shish good but not good enough to pull off an upset.
"It was tougher than I expected," said a happy Buakaw post-bout, "but thanks to all my team and my fans for their support, I will go on now and do my best to defend my championship in July."
In the third of the Champions' bouts, Albert Kraus faced Virgil Kalakoda. This was the K-1 debut for Kalakoda, a South African who is the son of veteran trainer Steve Kalakoda.
After a rough 2004, Kraus' fortunes turned for the better earlier this year when he became the first K-1 fighter ever to beat Buakaw Por Pramuk.
Kraus made his ring entrance wearing a flapping powder-blue breastplate which could not be described as outstandingly masculine -- but once again the Dutchman's fighting skills proved inversely proportional to his fashion sense. Just as Masato the kicker had worked punches into his style, Kraus the puncher was much improved with his kicks here.
Kraus put a right hook though early in the first to rattle Kalakoda. But Kalakoda was pretty good with the fists himself, speedy and precise. In the second, Kraus again got the right hook in, a couple of times, and his low kicks were now stinging Kalakoda. Although the South African stepped forward with a nice uppercut, it was increasingly evident that he was outclassed here. Kraus took it to Kalakoda in the third, driving in with low and middle kicks, right punches and hooks, and looking perfect on defense when his opponent went for counters. Kalakoda showed a lot of spunk, stood his ground and made Kraus work for it, but there was no question that the 2003 Champ deserved the unanimous decision.
In a much-anticipated Superfight, tough guy Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto of Japan stepped in against the hard-punching Mike Zambidis of Greece. Given the explosive nature of both these combatants, this promised to be a brutal contest. At the pre-event press conference, Zambidis promised to "teach Yamamoto about kickboxing," but it was the Kid who threw the first kicks. Zambidis found his form later in the round, getting a good right straight punch through and making partial contact with a couple of knees and high kicks. In the second, Zambidis began with a brutal body blow, and ably blocked the Kid's kicks with ease, exacting payback with his counters. Fighting from the southpaw stance, the Kid popped his right in nicely midway through the round, but Zambidis was good again with the quick counters.
The pace picked up a notch in the third, both men throwing low kicks before Zambidis saw an opening and, in dramatic fashion, slammed a right hook to the nose to lay the Kid out. Zambidis went over to pay tribute to his opponent, and the pair beamed wide smiles as they warmly embraced center-ring. Two great fighters, one great bout.
In other action: The card's first contest, featuring Seidokaikan fighter Kasuya Yasuhiro of Japan and former pro-wrestler Jadamba Narantungalag of Mongolia, was nothing less than thrilling. It had been tough going for Narantungalag recently, he was winless in his last three (although these losses came against elite fighters: Kraus, Masato, Yamamoto). Here a slimmed-down Narantungalag declared war on Yasuhiro in a first round that was all about speed and power and nonstop kicks and punches -- both men giving as good as they got.
In the second it was a wonder the two remained standing, as again the strikes were fierce and frequent. In the third the two somehow turned it up a notch -- it wasn't pretty, both fighters firing in anything and everything, both connecting with punishing right straight punches, both wobbling dangerously but remaining upright. At the conclusion, with Yasuhiro's nose badly bloodied, Narantungalag had earned a narrow but unanimous decision.
Takayuki Kohiruimaki, who won the World Max Japan in both '04 and '05; took on the lightning-fast Darius Skliaudys of Lithuania in the next fight. Said Skliaudys pre-bout, "I know Kohiruimaki is strong, so I will have to be even stronger!"
He certainly started that way -- the Lithuanian southpaw had thrown some ten punches and kicks before Kohi put his first strike in, and Skliaudys looked good throughout the fast-paced first. Skliaudys was driving again in the second, but when a low kick brought the top of his foot into contact with Kohi's knee, he stepped back and collapsed to the canvas with a grimace of pain etched on his face, and it was obvious he wasn't going to get up. Kohiruimaki enthusiastically pumped his fist in the air to celebrate his KO victory even as Skliaudys was being carried out of the ring. It was later determined that the Lithuanian fighter had pulled a ligament in his left foot, an unfortunate freak injury from which he is expected to make a full recovery.
The third matchup pitted popular Australian John Wayne Parr against Shane Chapman of New Zealand. These two boys from down under are good friends, but they left their comradery outside the ring today.
There was a lot of movement in the first, both men flying forward with spirited attacks, Parr flipping over the ropes and out of the ring at one point. Late in the round, Parr got a knee up from the clinch to score a down, and just seconds after resumption planted a right hook to sink Chapman to the canvas again. To be sure, Chapman was no slouch -- he threw some good hard punches in the second -- but Parr's fists had more oomph, and a left to the body earned him another down midway through the round.
Parr chased his opponent round the ring in the third, looking solid defensively and striking almost effortlessly with the kicks and punches. A volley of punishing body blows late in the round put Chapman down hard, and this time the valiant Kiwi could not beat the count. An impressive KO win for Parr, who has to rank with the best of the World Max fighters this year.
Dutch Shoot Boxer Andy Souwer and Muay Thai stylist Marfio "The Warrior Tiger" Canoletti of Brazil met in the card's fourth contest. Souwer, who has also trained in Judo and Karate, has lost just three times in 96 career fights.
The two locked horns from the get-go, standing toe-to-toe and firing in scores of punches to the head and body. In the second they did more of the same, Souwer also working the knees and beginning to take the upper hand in this battle of attrition. As the round wore on Canoletti was increasingly on the defensive, and taking one heck of a rattling.
Aware he was down on points, the Brazilian started the third by racing in with high kicks, but Souwer defended well and soon closed the distance and got the fists, low kicks and knees raining in again. Souwer had the combinations working well, and Canoletti showed a good chin to weather the storm, and a lot of heart to keep coming back in with attacks of his own. This was, however, an easy call for the judges -- a unanimous decision for Souwer.
In a showdown between a couple of Muay Thai fighters, Yoshihiro Sato of Japan took on Team Aerts fighter William Diender of the Netherlands. These two were another young pairing, both fighters just 24 years of age. Sato brought a 11cm (4") height advantage to the ring, and worked the low kicks from the start, also looking to clinch and bring up the knee. But Diender stepped in with some good straight punches, as the two fought from their respective strengths.
In the second Sato used the fists, and his combinations had Diender in retreat more often than not. A Sato front kick to the face and Diender's punch counter were the highlight of the round. Sato's legs were the difference again in the third, the Japanese fighter repeatedly pumped in knees early on, then used front kicks to control the distance later in the round. Diender got past with punches on several occasions, but Sato outscored the Dutchman to take the unanimous decision.
In the opening fight, Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout -- a 21 year-old Canadian who made an impression at the K-1 Bellagio open tryouts last year -- took on Koutetsu Boku of Japan. Stout had some decent legwork, but ate a lot of leather in the first round as Boku's fists were just better. The Canadian made corrections to his blocking as the fight progressed, and was the more aggressive fighter in the third, forcing a draw. Stout finally got his combinations together in the extra round to earn a unanimous decision.
In an undercard bout, Japanese fighter Yuma Yamamoto dominated compatriot Yasuhiro Kido before scoring a down in the third to win by decision.
The K-1 World Max Open Tournament 2005 attracted a sellout crowd of 13,918 to the Ariake Coliseum, and was broadcast live in Japan on the TBS television network. See the official results here: http://www.so-net.ne.jp/feg/k-1gp/top647.htm.
Special thanks to Monte Dipietro and K-1 for this review.
For more information about K-1 visit thier official website