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K-1 World MAX 2008 Final Press Conference

K-1 World Max 2008 Final Press Conference

Written by Monty DiPietro.

TOKYO, September 30, 2008 -- Fan polling on the K-1 Japanese Website has named Andy Souwer and Masato as the favorites, but longtime K-1 watchers know that anything can happen when the bell rings tomorrow at the World Max 2008 Final.

With its 70kg/154lbs weight limit, K-1 World Max's speed and technique have made the fightsport production immensely popular in Japan and around the world. At the Nippon Budokan tomorrow, this year's top four World Max fighters will clash in a couple of semifinal bouts, the winners then meeting in the Main Event to fight for the World Max 2008 Championship Belt.

The 13-bout card also includes a couple of tournament reserve bouts, a World Max Superfight, the ISKA World Lightweight Title Match and another lightweight contest, plus the quarterfinals in K-1's new Koshien King of U-18 series.

In a press conference today at Tokyo's Laforet Hotel, participating fighters shared their thoughts with the media in advance of the event.

The first of the World Max semifinals sets respected Japanese kickboxer Masato -- the World Max 2003 Champion and last year's runner-up -- against compatriot Yoshihiro Sato, the '06 & '07 World Max Japan Champion.

"Since August, I been working to make myself stronger," said Masato. "It's been the hardest, deepest and most fruitful training of my career. I think now I have more strength than ever, and tomorrow with Sato I will win. I noticed at the weigh-in that he was 500g under, so maybe he didn't maximize his training? Anyway after a beat him, I will go on and beat Souwer, and become the champion!"

"I know the expectations are high for Masato," replied Sato, "but my friends and fans and peers have all given me a great deal of courage for this fight. Last year I fought Buakaw, whom I respect highly, but I made a miracle and beat him. Tomorrow I will make a bigger miracle and beat Masato. I was at my weight when I woke up yesterday, and I got in a hot bath and lost about 300g in just a few minutes. I have a fast metabolism, that helps me grow muscle!"

The second semi sees two-time and defending World Max Champion Andy Souwer -- who has but one World Max loss since July 2003 -- taking on 21 year-old Ukrainian fighter Artur Kyshenko, whose only loss in nine World Max bouts came against Masato in last year's final.

Due to new World Max rules (see below), Souwer will not be permitted to compete in his trademark shoot boxing pants.

"I represent shoot boxing, so it's too bad I can't wear the pants, but I'll do what I have to do, it will have no effect on my performance," said Souwer. "As I always say, I am on my road to the championship. Now in the final four I'm coming to the end of the road -- everything so far this year has been leading me here, and I will continue to do my very best! I'm happy to hear Masato say he wants to fight me in the final, he's the most popular fighter here and he'll bring a lot more to the final than others, so I want to fight him too. Good luck to all!"

"It's my first time giving a speech like this," smiled Kyshenko from the podium. "To be in the final four is an honor, and I wish all good luck. To be here means we are all good and we all had some good luck. I don't know who will be smiling the champion's smile tomorrow, but I will try to be the one!"

In the first tournament reserve, Japanese kickboxer Yasuhiro Kido will fight the first-ever World Max Champion, boxer Albert Kraus of Holland.

"I appreciate the chance," said Kido, "my opponent is a star and I admired his style for years. But now, I think I can come up to his level, be even stronger, and win."

Speaking in Japanese, Kraus told the audience "I promise I will do my best!"

The second tournament reserve pits two-time World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand against Indian muay thai fighter Black Mamba.

"I have regrets about not being in the tournament bracket to fight for the championship," said Buakaw, "but it's my pleasure just to be in the ring and I will do my best."

Mamba made light of the slim chance for victory afforded him in the fan voting, "I arrived in Tokyo and immediately heard had that I had less than a 10% chance of winning! Well, I imagine Buster Douglas had about the same chance of beating Mike Tyson when he came here, so tomorrow I will fight with my feet, my hands, my spirit and everything!"

In a World Max Superfight, Japanese kickboxer Taishin Kohiruimaki will meet Dutch kickboxer Joeri Mes.

"It's been a year since my last fight," said Kohiruimaki, "so for me and my gym and my fans, I want to prove myself. Mes is strong, but I will hit hard to make it a good fight!"

"I've been fighting in Europe for a long time," said Mes, "but it's always been my dream to fight in Japan. This is a big opportunity for me, I respect my opponent but tomorrow I will destroy him!"

In the highly anticipated ISKA World Lightweight (60kg/132lbs) Title Match, it will be Japanese fighters Susumu Daiguji and Daisuke Uematsu.

Said Daiguji: "I trained very hard for this fight, and I expect it to be a clean one -- I will go for it from the first-round, and when it's over my opponent will have to shave his head!" (In Japan, shaving one's head is an atonement for shameful behavior or poor performance.)

Laughed Uematsu, "My hair will stay on top of my head, because I won't lose. I will get a victory and I will enjoy the championship!"

Remarked ISKA Vice President Paul Hennessey, who is in Tokyo to supervise the title bout. "It's experience versus youth. Daiguji has done the hard circuit, he's had some tough fights in his career; while Uematsu is a bit younger. I think it will be very interesting."

Another lightweight contest will feature Japanese fighters Haruaki Otsuki and Ryuji Kajiwara.

Otsuki: "I hear he has kicks, but I have kicks and more, and I want to get a KO tomorrow!"

Kajiwara: "I see that 70% of people who voted expect he will win. But I have prepared hard with my coach and practiced hard, and my courage and confidence will earn me victory."

In the evening's opening fight, Nieky "The Natural" Holzken of Holland's prestigious Golden Glory Gym will take on South African boxer Virgil Kalakoda in the World Max weight class.

Said Holzken, "I fought Buakaw in my first World Max fight, now I'm back and well prepared. Kalakoda's been here too long, I'm new and I'm going to beat him!"

Said Kalakoda, "I'm happy to be here, my preparation has been good, Mes is aggressive and I am aggressive so it will be an exciting fight. I did not come here to lose!"

K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa took the podium to announce a number of World Max rule changes. Effective October 1, World Max Fighter costumes may not cover the body below the knee or above the waist. No oil, lotion or potentially stimulative or irritating substances can be applied to any part of the body. Vaseline can only be applied to the face and ears, and with only a minimal amount is permitted there. Finally, an "open-scoring" system has been introduced, whereby the judges' cards will be revealed -- for the fighters and their cornermen as well as fans in the arena and watching on television -- at the conclusion of each round. It is hoped that the "open scoring" system will both provide transparency and motivate fighters to be more aggressive.


Also on tomorrow's card are the 2008 quarterfinal contest in the new K-1 Koshien King of U-18 Series. Paralleling Japan's hugely popular Koshien high school baseball tournament -- which enjoys television viewer ratings exceeding those of Japanese major league baseball -- K-1 Koshien is open to high school students aged 16-18, with a weight range limitation of 57kg/126lbs to 62kg/137lbs. Bouts are conducted under K-1 rules, but fighters wear ten-ounce gloves along with shin and foot pads.

Hiroya, a Promoter's Selection, will take on Taishi Hiratsuka, a Top-3 Fighter from the Chubu Area; Shota Shimada, also a Promoter's Selection, will meet Ryo Murakoshi, a Top-3 Fighter in the Kanto Area; while Chubu Area Champion Ryuya Kusakabe will fight Daizo Sasaki, a Kanto Area Finalist; and Kanto Area Champion Koya Urabe will meet Yusuke Tsuboi Japan, a Finalist from the Chubu Area.

All bouts on the card will be contested under K-1 World Max Rules, three rounds of three minutes each, with a possible tiebreaker round in all but the K-1 Koshien Series, and two possible tiebreakers in the ISKA Title bout and the World Max Final's championship bout.

The K-1 World Max 2008 Final kicks off at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 1, at the historic Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo. It will be broadcast in Japan on the TBS network. For television scheduling information in other regions contact local providers. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results and comprehensive coverage of this and all K-1 events.
Masato vs Sato

Souwer vs Kyshenko

Kido vs Kraus

Buakaw vs Mamba

Kohiruimaki vs Mes

Daiguji vs Uematsu

Otsuki vs Kajiwara

Kalakoda vs Holtzken

Hiroya vs Hiratsuka

Shimada vs Murakoshi

Kusakabe vs Sasaki

Urabe vs Tsuboi

Sadaharu Tanikawa

all fighters




Post new comment
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-30 at: 06:44
This is gonna be so much fun!...can´t believe it has gone a year already since last max final ;-). Masato sure look strong and confident. Interesting with the "open system" and if it can boost the fighters and the audience even more. I get the feeling there is a new era of K-1 coming up and I look forward follow it. Nice nice nice! =)
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-30 at: 07:17
Here is for those who wonder how Andy look without his trademark shoot boxing pants...looking strong =)

h ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=va2Scc65R0c
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Chrzan_ko, Video editor (749 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-30 at: 08:47
I've got the same feeling Kim:)

Once this "open system" was used also in WGP (1993-1994?). I wouldn't mind if they returned to that.
D-rop, Video editor (2420 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-30 at: 10:25
Yeah, I´m very much looking forward to this event as well. This ´open system´ could turn out to be very good for K-1. Although I think in K-1 MAX you won´t notice very much difference. These guys always give everything they got.

@ Kim, I was afraid to follow this link of Andy ´without his pants´ , but I was relieved that he wore other pants instead. LOL
Sidekick (492 posts)
Posted: 2008-10-01 at: 06:49
great, great, great...!!
Post new comment


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