'Kohi' Defends Title; Kraus Shocks Buakaw at K-1 World Max Japan
TOKYO, February 23, 2005 -- Thirty-two year-old Takayuki Kohiruimaki fought his way past three challengers to win the World Max Japan 2005 at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo tonight. 'Kohi' picks up six million yen for the feat, and advances to the K-1 World Max 2005 Final, set for this May 4.
K-1 World Max Japan 2005 Press Conference
TOKYO, February 22, 2005 -- With public interest in K-1's 70kg World Max fighting class at an all-time, more than 100 media reps from Japan, Korea, Europe, Oceania and the Americas filled a press conference today at the Shin Takanawa Hotel to get a look at the eight fighters who will battle in the World Max Japan 2005.
The tournament will be held tomorrow at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo's new Odaiba seaside district. The winner will join seeded World Max Champions Albert Kraus of the Netherlands (2002), Masato of Japan (2003), and Defending Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand at the K-1 World Max Final, set for this May 4 in Ariake. (The other four fighters for the final will be determined by past performance records in World Max.)
The fights will be contested under K-1 rules, with three rounds of three minutes each and a possible extra tiebreaker in the quarterfinals and semis, two possible extra rounds in the final.
The first matchup will see defending World Max Japan Champion Takayuki Kohiruimaki take on Yasuhiro Kazuya. "Kohi" as he is known to his many fans, used low kicks to effect to beat Serkan Yilmaz in the final last year. This was a very emotional win for the fighter, who dedicated it to the memory of his father, who had died some months previously. Kohi has won six of his last seven fights, the only loss coming to last year's World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk.
The second tournament bout will be a battle of the mono monikers, as Tomo takes on Kojiro. Tomo is the little brother of veteran K-1 fighter Musashi, and the familial resemblance is as evident in their fighting style (Seidokaikan Karate) as their faces. Tomo also has the distinction, at 187cm (6'2"), of being the tallest fighter in the tournament. His opponent, Muay Thai fighter Kojiro, has been on a slide as of late, losing his last four, and so Tomo has to be hoping to get through here. Both fighters were upbeat at the press conference, saying they were relaxed and ready and promising to make a good go of it.
A meat and potatoes kickboxer, Kozo Takeda made it to the final at the 2003 World Max Japan tournament, losing there by decision to Masato. His opponent in the third quarterfinal will be the explosive Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto. The Kid also lost by decision to Masato, this just seven weeks ago at the K-1 Dynamite event in Osaka. Yamamoto, who did not make it to the press conference, is a rough and tumble fighter, a tough customer with a scowl to match his killer instinct. Expect this one to be a war.
At just 163cm (5'4"), Takehiro Murahama is by far the shortest fighter in the this tournament, possibly in the entire World Max class. But the never-say-die former JSBA Cardinalweight Champion packs a lot of punch from that small frame, and has given more than one fighter a hard time in the ring. Plus he has a very good chin. Here, Murahama will meet the kickboxer Hayato, who will bring a 17cm (7") height advantage to the ring. Tomorrow, we will see if that is enough.
There will also be three Superfights on the card:
In a clash of Muay Thai stylists, Japanese fighter Kinami will step in against French fighter Farid Villaume, who went all the way to the final at the King's Birthday Cup in Bangkok in 2003. Both fighters will be making their K-1 debuts.
MMA fighter Caol Uno of Japan will try to stop the acrobatic Turk Serkan Yilmaz in the second Superfight. Yilmaz has a knack for bringing moves to the ring that other fighters have never seen, and has shown that he knows how to throw a good honest straight punch as well. Yilmaz was winless in four K-1 bouts last year, so will be looking to reestablish himself here against Uno, who make it clear to the media he has another result in mind.
The final Superfight is already the subject of much interest and speculation from K-1 fans and media. Dutch fighter Albert Kraus, who took the first-ever World Max Championship in 2002, will go up against Defending Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk. The 23 year-old Buakaw has quite possibly the best legs in World Max, while Kraus is a well-balanced fighter, especially strong with his fists. The question is, can Kraus get inside and hand the Thai wunderkind his first defeat? To the delight of the assembled media, both fighters made their press conference comments in Japanese. "No problem, no problem!" smiled Buakaw; while Kraus pledged: "I want to be the number one fighter this year, so I will do my best tomorrow!"
K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa wrapped things up: "It has been three years now we have been doing the World Max, the attraction is of course the combination of technique and speed. We see from the fan response that it is very popular, and this is evidenced by the fact that TBS will be broadcasting tomorrow's tournament from 9:00 pm, the so-called 'golden hour' of prime time television. We have many exciting fighters here from Japan and from abroad, and I am sure we will see a thrilling tournament!"
The K-1 World Max Japan 2005 kicks off at 18h00 on Wednesday February 23 at the Ariake Coliseum. It will be same-day broadcast on the TBS network in Japan. Check the K-1 Official website (www.k-1.co.jp) for complete coverage soon after the final bell.
Special thanks to Monte Dipietro and K-1 for this review.
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