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Simon Rutz interview

Over the past decade, Europe's It's Showtime has grown to become the clear-cut #2 worldwide kickboxing organization behind K-1. They've been extremely busy this year, with a number of strong cards, and look to keep that momentum going with their huge May 29 event at the Amsterdam ArenA, featuring Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, Daniel Ghita, and an all around ridiculous stacked line-up. We spoke with It's Showtime CEO and Founder Simon Rutz about what's next for the company. Always candid and full of info, Rutz gave us a lot to digest regarding their relationship with Strikeforce, his personal relationship with M-1 and Fedor's team, Giorgio Petrosyan's K-1 status, and of course, the ArenA show.

HKL: First things first, we have heard a very exciting rumor that I would love to get your comment on. Sources have indicated that It's Showtime may be partnering with Strikeforce in order to bring kickboxing to the US as part of Strikeforce shows. This would be a huge move for It's Showtime into the US market, and a great increase in kickboxing exposure here. Is this true? Can you give us any details about this?

SR: The relation between Strikeforce and IT'S SHOWTIME is good and of course sometimes we speak about the possibility to cooperate more than we do now. But Strikeforce and IT'S SHOWTIME are really busy at this moment with their own events, so it is something for the future. In the future Strikeforce wants to run shows in Europe, and they have asked me if I can help them with that. And of course that is not a problem.

If you do work with Strikeforce, that would mean you are on shows involving M-1, Vadim Finkelstein, and the management of Fedor Emelianenko. I know Fedor's team and your organization have a history together - how would you feel about working with them in Strikeforce?

I shall never work with Apy Echteld. So long as Echteld is involved with M-1, IT'S SHOWTIME shall never work with them. I never understand why Vadim Finkelstein works with this man. I have known Vadim for many, many years now, and I have never had a problem with him. But Apy Echteld is a different story. A few years ago, Echteld try to hire a hitman to kill a person I know very well. Apy Echteld is very bad for the sport, and I hope that he is soon in prison. IT'S SHOWTIME will work with Strikeforce, but not with M-1. I think the only reason why Strikeforce is working with M-1 is because of Fedor Emelianenko.

Switching gears, the big event coming up for you is obviously the Amsterdam ArenA show on May 29. How is everything going with that event?

Everything is OK, and we are almost sold out with more than 20,000 attendees. Most people in the world don't know, but our Amsterdam ArenA event is the biggest kickboxing event in the world now. Also for the people in America who love to watch kickboxing I have good news; for just 10 euro everybody can watch this event live on their own screen. Visit www.showtimefights.com. So everybody can see live fights from Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, Gohkan Saki, Daniel Ghita, Yosihiro Sato, Pajonsuk, Artur Kysenko, Murat Direkci and many, many more.

You've dealt with a number of tricky card changes throughout this event that I would love to get some thoughts on. First off, what is your opinion on Remy Bonjasky turning down the main event fight with Badr Hari? Do you feel like his reasons are justified, and how do you as a promoter respond to that?

First of all Remy Bonjasky is a good fighter and he is good for the sport. I must respect the reasons why he doesn't want to fight against Badr Hari. I tried three times to let him fight in the Amsterdam ArenA, but he refused. The first time he said yes to me, but he changed his mind. What can I say about this? It is a pity that this fight is not happening in Amsterdam! A lot of people say that he is afraid of Badr Hari and this was, in my opinion, the opportunity for him to let the people know that it is not true.

Another recent switch was moving Gokhan Saki in to replace Tyrone Spong against Melvin Manhoef. You had some trouble with Saki in the past dropping out of events, what made you decide to bring him in against Manhoef?

A lot of people in the world like it when our organization is working with Golden Glory [Saki's management]. The truth is that IT'S SHOWTIME and Golden Glory have the most interesting and exciting kickboxers under management. When IT'S SHOWTIME has a conflict with Golden Glory, it is not good for the sport and also not good for future matchmaking. Of course I sometimes have big discussions with [Golden Glory's] Bas Boon, but at the end, most of the time, we do business. And why did I decide to let Gohkan Saki fight against Melvin Manhoef? That is simple: this is a hell of a fight!

One of the fights I'm most looking forward to is Kysehnko v. Direkci. A lot of fans seem to overlook Direkci. Where would you say he ranks against the top fighters in the 70kg division?

I think that Murat Direkci is one of the top 5 kickboxers in the world at 70 kg. He beat Albert Kraus (KO), Drago (KO), Joeri Mes (TKO) and many more. The reason why a lot of people overlook Direkci is because he doesn't want to fight for K-1 MAX anymore, because they pay too low and make payments much, much too late!

Any predictions about what fight or fighters will surprise fans that night?

On the Amsterdam ArenA event something amazing always happens with some of the fighters. Some names will get bigger and some names are going down. In the Amsterdam ArenA nobody can hide his true identity. More than 20,000 people are yelling the fighters forwards.

One last question about Amsterdam - we're big supporters of Giorgio Petrosyan, and were sad to see him drop out. How is Petrosyan's recovery going? Will we see him in the MAX Grand Prix this year?

The plan is that he can fight again in July. He had a lot of problems with his hand and I hope that everything is OK by July. If he fights in the K-1 MAX Grand Prix depends if K-1 pays his prize money from last year, because K-1 hasn't done that yet!

Speaking of the Grand Prix, you mentioned that Petrosyan, Drago, Chahid, and Pajonsuk will be in the MAX GP this year. Are they all set to participate as part of the Final 16 or will any of them be in a reserve fight? Any more It's Showtime fighters confirmed for MAX?

If K-1 still lives, then those four fighters are fighting in the Final 16. The only reason Giorgio Petrosyan would not be fighting there is if K-1 doesn't pays his prize money from last year. So far, we have just these 4 fighters in the Final 16, but we have more than 10 other fighters at 70 kilo who are at this level.

Your 77kg champ Cosmo Alexandre has been on a great roll lately, with a number of huge wins. Who can we expect to see challenge him for the belt?

A good opponent for Cosmo Alexander at 77 kg is Lhoucine "Aussie" Ouzgni. Most people in the world don't know him yet, but he is really at the top.

Last question - last time we spoke you said "in 2011 we will introduce something new for our organization, but for now I can say nothing about that." Any hints for us about what this will be, or anything else you want to share about what fans can look forward to from It's Showtime?

May 29th we announce everything in the Amsterdam ArenA, and believe me it is big, big news!




Post new comment
Rob, Holland reporter (1964 posts)
Posted: 2010-05-11 at: 09:50
Hmm weird...I posted a comment here and now it is gone :S
Anywhooz, what I said was I found it strange FEG has yet to pay Petrosyan.
And thnx for posting Stark, this was a great read!
stark (1143 posts)
Posted: 2010-05-11 at: 11:28
I wonder what is that big, big news
Cdn Mongoose (1425 posts)
Posted: 2010-05-13 at: 10:12
I have a friend in Japan who is looking into the payment issue.
Cdn Mongoose (1425 posts)
Posted: 2010-05-13 at: 10:13
I hope the something new is not MMA........I hope it is a North American TV deal.
Rob, Holland reporter (1964 posts)
Posted: 2010-05-20 at: 05:50
@Cdn Mongoose I have no idea what it can be. But knowing Its Showtime, it will be pretty awesome :D
Any word from your Japansese sources??
Post new comment



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