20th July, 2005

A crowd of over 17,000 packed into the Yokohama Arena tonight for the K-1 Max 2005 Finals. The eight fighters had all earned their spot through a qualification tournament in Tokyo earlier this year.

First up in the quarter finals was Japanese favorite and 2003 champion Masato who faced the heavy hitting Greek fighter Mike Zambidis. The two men also met at the same stage of the K-1 Max 2003 tournament.

Masato started by attacking Zambidis with sharp low kicks but looked wary of his opponent’s power. The Greek opened up with some sharp kicks of his now at first, before looking to unload with his trademark heavy hooks to the body and head.

Masato looked to jab and move more and landed with some strong kicks to the body. His opponent managed to land with a hard left hook to the body and attempted a jumping switch knee, but the Japanese fighter showed some slick footwork to avoid it.

In round two Zambidis came out looking pumped up and firing in heavy hooks. Masato did a good job of soaking them up and slammed in some hard kicks.

A hard low kick from Masato saw Zambidis attempt a fast, hard left hook counter, but the 2003 tournament winner’s sharp reflexes saw him avoid the shot.

Masato’s boxing looked on point now as he fired in sharp combinations from a fast jab and opened up with some long knees. Zambidis kept chasing him but struggled to pin the local favourite down.

In the final round Zambidis upped the pressure even more, landing at the start with a hard left hook and right cross and attacking Masato with low kicks. Meanwhile Masato kept moving well and looked to slow up Zambidis with stiff jabs.

Zambidis tried again with a jumping knee, but again Masato just slid away from danger. Masato fired in a fast right hand at the onrushing Zambidis and caught him flush on the jaw, dropping Zambidis for an eight count.

Masato stayed calm after the knockdown, using the ring to stay out of danger. The Greek went for broke trying to turn the fight around, but the Japanese veteran was too slick and avoided most of his shots.

Near the end of the round Masato stopped Zambidis in his tracks with a blistering punch combination. At the end of the fight Masato was announced as the winner by unanimous decision, but he was limping badly after the fight and had to be helped from the ring.

Local favourite

Next up was Japan’s second contender, Takayuki Kohiruimaki, who faced Andy Souwer from the Netherlands. The action took a little while to get going as both looked to just move around at first, testing each others reactions with feints.

Souwer came in with a hard hook, straight combination as Kohiruimaki looked to tie him up in the clinch and knee. The Dutchman dropped to the canvas in pain after a hard knee but it was thrown as the referee was breaking the clinch and he was given time to recover.

Kohiruimaki kept looking to clinch and knee, but the referee was quick to break both fighters. Souwer started to open up with hard punches towards the end of the round and started to back up the Japanese fighter.

In the second round the action started with Souwer throwing down Kohiruimaki, but he got a warning from the referee for what looked more like a judo move than a kickboxing technique. The Dutch fighter started to push forward more now, opening up with hard punches.

Kohiruimaki preferred to stay on the back foot and looked to tie up whenever he got close. But Souwer stunned him with a hard hook and right hand and started to open up with some blistering punch combinations.

Souwer backed up Kohiruimaki throughout the final round, opening up with heavy punches. The Japanese looked to slow the action by tying the Dutchman up and trying to use his knees

Souwer looked dangerous with every punch but Kohiruimaki stunned him a little with a left hook just before the end of the round. The Dutchman attacked again relentlessly with punches and landed with a big knee just before the bell to take a clear lead on the score cards.

To the surprise of everyone one of the judges actually scored the fight a draw. But the other two voted in favour of Souwer who advances to the semi finals with a majority decision win.

Close contest

Next up was 2002 K-1 Max winner Albert Kraus who faced Australia’s John Wayne Parr. Both started the action trading sharp hands.

Parr opened up with some solid kicks to the body as Kraus kept looking for big punches and connected with a hard left hook and then opened up with the Australian on the ropes.

Parr came back with more sharp kicks and attacked the body of Kraus with some solid hooks and followed in with a hard right. Parr looked to retain a high work rate, but got caught with a hard hook to the body from the Dutchman with 30 seconds left in the round.

In round two Parr came out with more fast kicks, but struggled to find his range at first. Kraus kept looking for big punches, but couldn’t land anything clean as the Muay Thai veteran kept moving well and fired back with sharp body and push kicks.

Kraus opened up with some sharp punches towards the end of the round but Parr fired back with some rapid fire kicks.

In the final round Kraus started by coming forward and opening up with punches. A short way in Parr connected with a succession of hard punches and a high kick that seemed to stun Kraus.

Parr followed in with more hard shots that had Kraus shell up. The Dutchman soon cleared his head and pushed forward opening up with punches and low kicks.

Kraus got in a hard right hand as Parr came back at him with solid kicks. He landed again with a hard overhand right, but his opponent looked unfazed.

Parr came back at Kraus with fast body and low kicks but the 2002 champion landed with a hard uppercut near the bell. At the end of the fight both fighters looked confident, but the judges all awarded the fight to Kraus.

Defending champion

The final quarter final match saw 2004 K-1 Max winner Buakaw Por Pramuk face Jadambaa Narantungalag of Mongolia. The Thai stalked forward patiently at first, looking for openings but reluctant to open up.

Jadambaa scored first with a fast punch and low kick. Buakaw pushed forward cutting off the ring, but was still slow in opening up with his shots, as he came forward behind a high guard.

After a slow start Buakaw finally came to life, landing a fest left low and then high kick. He tried to off balance Jadamba from the clinch, but the Mongolian turned him as they fell and landed on top.

Buakaw started to power in left kicks towards the end of the round but in the second it was Jadambaa who got the action underway with a fast spinning back kick. The Thai did tie him up in the clinch and spun him off balance several times.

Buakaw started to push forward opening up with lightening fast kicks off both legs and Jadambaa looked like he had no idea how to deal with the speed and power. The Mongolian opened up with a few punches but looked like he was rapidly running out of ideas.

Jadambaa came forward at the start of the final round and opened up with punches but Buakaw tied him up in the clinch and hammered in hard knees. The Thai fired in more fast kicks and repeatedly off balanced the Mongolian in the clinch.

Jadamba came in with a fast uppercut but it didn’t bother Buakaw who looked in complete control. The Muay Thai fighter landed a solid right hand and opened up with more hard punches.

Jadambaa did manage to land with a hard right hand towards the end of the round but Buakaw just answered back with more hard knees. It looked a very clear win for the Thai but surprisingly one of the judges scored the fight a draw, with the other two awarding the decision to last years winner who advances to the next round.

Kickboxing legend

Before the semi finals the crowd were treated to a fight from Muay Thai and kickboxing legend Ramon Dekkers who faced Duane Ludwig. The Dutchman is ten years older than the American and much more experienced.

Dekkers dropped Ludwig in the opening round with a fast, hard jab. In the second the American caused a stir as he seemed to stun the Dutchman with a hard right.

But Dekkers struck again with a hard left hook shortly after, scoring the second knockdown of the fight. He dropped Ludwig again in the final round with a hard left hook but the American managed to see out the round with all three judges seeing the fight for the experienced Dutchman.

Late replacement

News broke before the start of the semi finals that Masato had suffered a hairline fracture to his left ankle and was unable to continue, so his countryman Kazuya Yasuhiro stepped in to take his place.

Yasuhiro had won the reserve bout earlier in the night after beating Darius Skliaudys of Lithuania by second round unanimous decision.

Skliaudys had received a yellow card in the opening round after repeated low kicks to the groin of Yasuhiro and the fight went to the scorecards in round two after the Japanese fighter had picked up a cut. It didn’t stop him from stepping up to replace Masato, facing Souwer in the first semi final.

In the opening round Souwer looked like he was struggling to find his rhythm as Yasuhiro came in repeatedly with acrobatic spinning kicks. But the Japanese fighter only succeeded in throwing himself to the canvass without doing any damage to his opponent.

A minute into the round Souwer started to find his range with punches and the cut by Yasuhiro’s right eye opened up again. He was taken to the ringside doctor who allowed the fight to go on.

Yasuhiro came in with a few more wild kicks, before Souwer unloaded with more punches and the blood was now flowing freely. Another trip to the doctor saw the fight called off and Souwer progressed to the final.

Old rivals

Buakaw faced Kraus next. The two had faced each other on a K-1 card in Japan earlier this year with the former winning by split decision after an extra round was required.

In the opening round Buakaw looked to keep Kraus at range with jabs and push kicks, before landing with two hard low kicks. The 2004 winner looked to unload with hard punches, but struggled to hit the target.

Buakaw started to power in the left kicks now, before Kraus managed to counter one with a hard right hand. The Dutchman looked determined to land a hard punch, but again struggled to get through with anything clean.

The defending champion looked content to pick off Kraus with fast kicks. Buakaw did push forward a little at the start of the second round, attacking with fast punches and kicks.

Kraus wanted to punch but was getting tagged with sharp punches from Buakaw, who was looking strong. The Thai turned up the pressure, attacking with barrages of fast low kicks, punches and knees.

The 2002 winner was getting totally out fought but managed to get through with a decent right towards the end of the round. In the final stanza Kraus came out aggressively knowing he needed a huge round.

Buakaw moved around and kept Kraus at bay with push kicks at first before coming in with some hard low kicks. The Dutchman looked very tired now and the Muay Thai veteran was soon back in control, attacking with fast kicks, knees and punches.

There was no surprises in store when the judge’s decisions were rendered this time as Buakaw took a unanimous decision and moved through to the final, looking to become the first man to win back to back K-1 Max tournaments.

Extra rounds

The final saw Souwer face Buakaw. It was a contrast between the slick boxing of the Dutchman and the fast, explosive kicks of the Thai.

Neither looked to have the upper hand early on. Buakaw landed with a fast high kick, but it lacked enough power to really do any damage.

Buakaw looked to take the fight in the clinch and off balance Souwer while unloading with some sharp knees, but the Dutchman came back with some solid knees of his own. He unloaded with a fast punch combination before the defending champion landed with two fast kicks just before the bell.

In round two Buakaw opened up with more fast kicks and knees. Souwer came in with some sharp punches, but the Thai showed a tight defence and made him miss.

Buakaw opened up with a fast kick barrage before tying up Souwer and off balancing him again. The Dutch fighter landed with a fast left hook and follow in kick and then pushed his opponent into the ropes and unloaded with punches.

Buakaw countered back well with fast kicks. There was another flurry of punches from Souwer just before the end of the round, but the 2004 winner managed to avoid most of them.

In the final round Souwer started the more aggressive, looking to punch. Buakaw again preferred to fire in sharp kicks and off balance his opponent in the clinch.

Souwer got through with a solid straight but Buakaw answered back with a hard hook counter shot. The Dutchman kept looking for hard punches, but struggled to land anything meaningful.

Buakaw landed with some more sharp kicks just before the bell. But all three judges scored the fight a draw meaning an extra round would be required.

In the fourth Souwer started with a salvo of punches but Buakaw responded with a fast overhand right. The Thai warrior looked to tie him up in the clinch and off balance him again.

Buakaw came in with more fast kicks, but got caught by a hard left hook to the body. He kept tying up Souwer in the clinch and turning him off balance which frustrated the Dutch fighter.

Buakaw landed with a flurry of fast kicks just before the bell but again the judges were unable to separate them both. All three scored the round a draw setting up a fifth and final round.

Buakaw straight away off balanced Souwer from the clinch, but this time the referee gave him a quick warning. Souwer landed a fast uppercut and right, before getting off balanced again.

Souwer started to complain and looked frustrated by Buakaw’s clinching but the Thai switched strategy and landed a fast left kick and follow in knee. The Dutch fighter opened up with a fast punch combination again, but again not all the shots landed cleanly.

Buakaw finished the round with a few slapping body kicks just before the bell. This time the judges were more decisive with two of them scoring the fight for Souwer and the third for Buakaw.

Souwer becomes the K-1 Max 2005 champion. He follows in the footsteps of previous winners Kraus, Masato and Buakaw.

K-1 Max 2005, Yokohama, July 20th, 2005
Andy Souwer def. Buakaw Por Pramuk by Decision (Split) at 3:00 of Round 5 (K-1 Max Final)
Virgil Kalakoda def. Yoshihiro Sato by Decision (Majority) at 3:00 of Round 3
Buakaw Por. Pramuk def. Albert Kraus by Decision (Unanimous) at 3:00 of Round 3 (K-1 Max 1/2 Final)
Andy Souwer def. Yasuhiro Kazuya by TKO (Cut) at 2:24 of Round 1 (K-1 Max 1/2 Final)
Ramon Dekkers def. Duane Ludwig by Decision (Unanimous) at 3:00 of Round 3
Buakaw Por. Pramuk def. Jadambaa Narantungalag by Decision (Majority) at 3:00 of Round 3 (K-1 Max 1/4 Final)
Albert Kraus def. John Wayne Parr by Decision (Unanimous) at 3:00 of Round 3 (K-1 Max 1/4 Final)
Andy Souwer def. Takayuki Kohiruimaki by Decision (Majority) at 3:00 of Round 3 (K-1 Max 1/4 Final)
Masato def. Mike Zambidis by Decision (Unanimous) at 3:00 of Round 3 (K-1 Max 1/4 Final)
Yasuhiro Kazuya def. Darius Skliaudys by Decision (Unanimous) at 1:32 of Round 2 (K-1 Max Reserve Fight)
Akeomi Nitta def. Kotetsu Boku by Decision (Unanimous) at 3:00 of Round 3

This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.