Two rivals from the K-1 Max glory days will be reunited at Rajadamnern Stadium next month. Buakaw Banchamek is set to go up against Yoshihiro Sato in an exhibition kickboxing match.

This will be the fifth meeting between the two men. The first took place at the K-1 World Max 2006 final with Buakaw winning by KO to become the tournament champion for the second time.

But while Buakaw has remained extremely active Sato stopped fighting in 2015 and will be coming out of retirement for this contest:

Second time

This will be the second time Buakaw has faced a Japanese opponent at Rajadamnern Stadium. Last month he knocked out Kota Miura in the third round of their exhibition kickboxing contest.

These bouts are billed as exhibitions meaning that the result will not appear on either man’s record. But the rules and regulations are identical to professional kickboxing so to all intents and purposes this will be a real fight.

Miura is 20 years younger than Sato but came into that contest with no kickboxing experience. He is the son of a famous footballer and has a big fan following in Thailand, perhaps more due to his looks than his achievements inside the ring.

Successful comeback

By contrast Sato has plenty of kickboxing experience, albeit none of it recent. He faced Buakaw three times in K-1 Max tournaments and lost the first two but got his revenge with a stoppage victory in 2008.

Five years later he travelled to Thailand to face Buakaw in a Muay Thai fight and lost by decision. The 41 year old retired in 2015 after a run of just one win in seven fights.

Buakaw did not fight at all during the pandemic and missed all of 2020 and 2021. But in July he made a comeback in Cambodia, beating Dmitry Varats in front of a handful of people in Phnom Penh.

His fight at Rajadamnern last month was a much bigger occasion with fans excited to see him return to a stadium he had not fought in since 2004. At the age of 40 he remains one of the biggest names in the sport of Muay Thai, but it was success as a kickboxer which really put him on the global map.

In 2006 Buakaw silenced the fans at the Yokohama Arena by knocking out Sato with a left hook in the quarter finals of the K-1 Max World Grand Prix. 16 years later the two men will be fighting for the fifth time and this time it is the Thai who will have the hometown crowd behind him.