Another exhibition match at Rajadamnern, another knockout for Muay Thai legend Buakaw Banchamek. This time the Japanese opponent he was facing did have plenty of experience although Yoshihiro Sato hasn’t fought since 2015.

By contrast Buakaw has been extremely active and his return to Rajadamnern has generated a lot of interest. He stopped fighting in the Thai stadiums after winning K-1 Max in 2004.

In August he returned to Rajadamnern amid a fanfare of publicity to knock out Kota Miura, easily beating the mixed martial artist in an exhibition kickboxing match. This bout looked like it would be more competitive but it lasted less than a round.

Sato is a two time K-1 Max Japan tournament winner and the only man to ever knock Buakaw out. This was the fifth encounter between them and the Thai had won four.

Slow start

Having finished his career with two KO losses in 2015 there was a question over how much Sato had left in the tank, even though he is only a year older than Buakaw.

Both fighters started tentatively in the exhibition kickboxing match which was scheduled for three rounds. Sato showed some glimpses of his former skills early on, but Buakaw looked to amp up the pressure and power.

Sato came in with a significant height advantage and fired off a body kick early on which only found the arms of Buakaw who threw the Japanese fighter to the ground after catching a teep. He easily evaded the next three kicks to and started to counter with punching combinations.

Sato finally connected with a body kick and tied Buakaw up in the clinch but couldn’t do any damage there. He kept the Thai at bay with a teep but a hard one two to the body.

More competitive

With a minute remaining in the round Sato went down for the first time but it was more of a slip. A one-two to the head downed the Japanese fighter and he couldn’t recover with the referee calling off the contest at the 2:15 mark.

The crowd erupted and the sight of Buakaw winning a fight at Rajadamnern Stadium still appears to be a novelty for many. Prior to his two victories this year he had not fought there since 2014.

With Buakaw proving a hit at the box office he will surely be back in action in Bangkok before too long. But the 40 year old has a bare knuckle Muay Thai fight against fellow legend Saenchai PKSaenchaigym booked for March, which could turn out to be much more competitive than his fights with Miura and Sato have been,