TOKYO, February 4, 2006 -- Scarcely a week after his 25th birthday, former All-Japan Boxing Welterweight Champion Yoshihiro Sato picked up a present well worth waiting for -- the K-1 Max Japan Belt. Sato looked smart dispatching three challengers en route to victory tonight at the Saitama Super Arena just north of Tokyo.
TOKYO, February 3, 2006 -- To kick off The Year of the Dog, K-1 is unleashing 14 top World Max fighters in the Japan Max Tournament, set for Saturday, February 4 at the Saitama Super Arena.
Former World Max Champion Masato of Japan will meet Aussie Ian Schaffa in the Main Event Superfight, and eight hopefuls will square off at the World Max Japan Tournament. Also on the card are former World Max Champ Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand, and the explosive Greek Mike Zambidis.
All bouts will be contested under K-1 Rules, 3Min x 3R with a possible tiebreaker round, two in the final.
The Japan Tournament first quarterfinal pits the experienced Seidokaikan fighter Kazuya Yasuhiro against the dynamic Hayato. Both told the 300 media people covering the press conference that they would do their best.
Also pledging to put up a good fight were bad boy boxer Tatsuji and Yuya Yamamoto, who will tango in the second quarterfinal. A smiley Yamamoto added that he hoped his age (at just 21 he is the youngest fighter in the tournament) would stand him in good stead.
The third bout will see the mean-looking Akira Ohigashii take on the tall and uber-conditioned Ryuki Ueyama. Both men sad they were happy to be here and would give it their all.
Also enthusiastic both on the eve of the event were a couple of powerful kickers, Yoshihiro Sato and Akeomi Nitta, who will mix it up in the last of the quarterfinals.
In the reserve fight, Hakuto will step in against Yasuhito Shirasu. An interesting card, with experience and youth, speed and power. Who will earn a spot at the World Max Final Elimination this spring? We'll know tomorrow.
Masato, the "Silver Wolf," a supremely-balanced fighter and former World Max World Champion, will take on power-puncher Ian Schaffa of Rings Australia.
Said Masato: "Schaffa has speed and power, I'll match it with speed and power."
Schaffa: "Masato thinks he's faster than I am, but my fighting spirit will get me the win!"
Fierce fighting machine Remigijus Morkevicius of Lithuania will go against speedy Japanese fighter Shingo Garyu in what promises to be a tough Superfight. An uncharacteristically shy Morkevicius wished everyone luck, while Garyu got a laugh by saying "Honestly, tomorrow is my chance to become famous -- I want to become famous!"
Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand, who won the Max Final in 2004, is one of the world's best kickers. Here he will test his skills against squat Greek slugger and KO master Mike Zambidis.
A reserved Buakaw promised to please his Japanese fans, while Zambidis put it simply: "I am here to fight hard!"
The K-1 World Max Japan '06 Tournament starts at 16h00 Jpn time on Saturday February 4 at the Saitama Super Arena just north of Tokyo. The event will be same-day broadcast in Japan on the TBS Network, in other locations check with local broadcasters for time-delay scheduling. As always check the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp) for complete coverage soon after the final bell.