The Beast is Back! Sapp Wins K-1 Japan GP
HIROSHIMA, June 14, 2005 -- A display of superior stamina and newfound prowess with kicks propelled Bob "The Beast" Sapp past three opponents and earned the American former-NFLer the Championship at the K-1 Japan Grand Prix '05. Sapp, who has been criticized in the past for fading shy of finishing a single round, battled through eight tough rounds tonight to win the tournament before a full house at the Hiroshima Green Arena.
K-1 Japan Grand Prix 05 Press Conference
HIROSHIMA, June 13, 2005 -- The rainy season is draped over Tokyo like a wet blanket, but down in Hiroshima today it was sunny and warm -- an appropriate atmosphere for one of the local highlights on the K-1 calendar, the Japan Grand Prix. Scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday June 14, the eight-man elimination tournament will advance a single fighter to the K-1 Final Elimination on September 23 at the Osaka Dome.
The Final Elimination will be an eight-bout (one match) tournament, with the winners advancing to the this year's Tokyo Dome Final. Already qualified for the 16 Osaka spots are the 2004 Final Eight -- Remy Bonjasky (Holland), Mighty Mo (USA), Peter Aerts (Holland), Ernesto Hoost (Holland) Francis Botha (South Africa), Ray Sefo (New Zealand), Musashi (Japan) and Kaoklai Kaennorsing (Thailand).
Joining these fighters will be Choi Hong Man (South Korea), who won the Asia GP in Seoul this March; Glaube Feitosa (Brazil), who took the US GP title in Las Vegas in April, and Semmy Schilt (Holland), victor at the European GP in Paris last month.
This year's Final Elimination field is shaping up nicely -- and at the Japan GP tomorrow another spot will be claimed. Looking fit and focused, the fighters vying for that honor met the media today at the Rihga Royal Hotel in central Hiroshima.
The first of the tournament matchups will be a battle of two tough guys, as Hiromi Amada and Tatsufumi Tomihira step in for what promises to be a war. Tomihira pledged to give his all to win, while the always provocative Amada was more specific: "I plan to go all the way," he said, " and I plan to win all three fights by KO!"
Yusuke Fujimoto will take on Hajime Moriguchi in the second fight. Winner of the tournament fashion award for his outrageous wide-lapel gold and black tuxedo and bandana/sunglasses look here, Fujimoto proved a man of few words, promising to deliver a 100% effort. Moriguchi, a man of even fewer words, said only that he would do his best.
The lone non-Japanese fighter in the tournament is American Bob Sapp, who will meet Yoshihiro Nakao in the third bout. Sapp said he looked forward to taking on the "entire country of Japan" and winning the tournament.
Nakao drew a laugh when he told the media that he hoped Sapp was paid up his insurance premiums, but Sapp was quick to retort: "Nakao is small, and tomorrow I will show everyone just how small he is when I kick his ass!"
A couple of capable technical fighters, Tsuyoshi Nakasako and Hiraku Hori, will do battle in the last of the first-tier bouts. Both men pledged to do their best to advance.
In the tournament reserve bout, Seidokaikan fighter Takeru will take on Yuki Niimura.
In Superfights on the card:
South Korean behemoth and 2005 Asia GP Champion Hong-Man Choi of will step in against "Green Beret" Tom Howard of the United States.
Said Howard: "I look forward to showing the world that the old adage 'The bigger they are the harder they fall' is true." Choi was more reserved in his comments, simply promising to satisfy his many fans in Korea and Japan.
The second Superfight will pit K-1 veteran Ray Sefo of New Zealand against Ruslan Karaev of Russia.
Sefo was gracious as always: "I don't know much about my opponent, but I will do my best -- good luck to all tomorrow."
Said Karev: "It is a year since I have been in the K-1 ring, and I intend put on a great fight!"
Also announced at the press conference was a matchup between American-Japanese former Sumo Grand Champion Akebono and Hong-Man Choi -- the bout set for this July 29 at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The K-1 World GP Intercontinental Tournament will also see the participation of Japanese fighter Musashi and Hawaiian native B.J. Penn -- the opponents for these two will be announced at a later date.
The K-1 Japan Grand Prix 05 kicks of at 16h00 local time at the Hiroshima Green Arena. It will be same-day broadcast across Japan on the Fuji TV Network and in South Korea on the MBC ESPN Network; and on a delayed basis elsewhere -- check with local providers for scheduling details. As always, you will find a complete report on the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp) soon after the final bell.