July 7th, 2004

K-1 World Max 2004 took place at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo tonight. The eight participants had all qualified through an elimination tournament held at the same venue in April and a 10 million yen prize was on the line for the winner.

The first quarter final of the night saw Takayuki Kohiruimaki face Mike Zambidis. The Japanese contender earned his spot after beating Paolo Balicha of Portugal while the Greek warrior beat another Japanese fighter, Hayato, to earn his place.

Zambidis started the fight attacking Kohiruimaki’s legs with sharp low kicks. Kohiruimaki looked to move away from the power shots of Zambidis, his face a mask of concentration.

Zambidis came in with some strong punches, but Kohiruimaki kept a high, tight guard and looked to tie up Zambidis whenever he got the chance. In the second Zambidis was the first to land, firing in a hard left hook.

Kohiruimaki came in with a jumping knee that was close to catching Zambidis on the jaw. Kohiruimaki started to drive in long knees and could sense Zambidis was struggling with them. A couple more knees from Kohiruimaki dropped Zambidis to the canvas, where he took a count.

Zambidis came back with a barrage of hooks, but most bounced off the arms of Kohiruimaki, who came back in with more solid knees. Zambidis came forward punching in the final round, knowing he had to do something special to turn the fight in his favour.

Kohiruimaki soaked them up well again though and fired in more strong knees. Zambidis kept looking for the big punch, but none fazed Kohiruimaki, who countered back throughout with his knees. At the final bell Kohiruimaki took an unanimous points decision.

Thai newcomer

The second quarter final saw John Wayne Parr of Australia, who qualified after beating Duane Ludwig. He faced Thailand’s Buakaw Por Pramuk, who beat New Zealand’s Jordan Tai to qualify.

Buakaw is not well known outside of his homeland but the 22 year old is a Muay Thai veteran and has held Omnoi stadium titles at 126lbs and 135lbs as well as winning a 140lbs Toyota Marathin and the 135lbs Thailand title.

The opening round saw neither rush out wildly, preferring to feel their way in. Buakaw showed good use of his push kicks to keep Parr off balance and came from behind his jab with some explosive body kicks. Parr came in with a high kick, but Buakaw swayed back out of range and fired in a hard kick to the back of Parr.

Buakaw landed with a fast low and body kick, before Parr countered with a sharp body kick of his own. Buakaw avoided another fast high kick from Parr, again catching him with a lightening fast counter kick.

In the second round Parr came out with a hard right and follow in left kick. Buakaw again doubled up with low and body kicks and makes Parr miss again, punishing him with another fast counter kick.

Buakaw upped the intensity, raining in kicks at Parr and near the end of the round turned Parr around in the clinch and landed with a solid counter knee.

In the final round Buakaw came out with more sharp body and push kicks. Parr came in with a sharp one two and knee. Buakaw landed a fast left kick again, but soon got warned for hitting on the break.

Parr came forward looking for punches, but Buakaw kept on scoring with his kicks and looked in control. The judges thought otherwise and declared the fight a draw, meaning an extra round was required

In the fourth Parr started quickest, attacking Buakaw with some solid punches. Buakaw rained in fast kicks again though, switching from left to right. Parr kept on looking for strong punches, but struggled to catch Buakaw clean and Buakaw again outscored him with kicks. At the bell Buakaw was awarded the round by two judges to one and progressed to the semi finals.

Defending champion

Next up saw the favourite Japan’s Masato, who qualified after beating Serkan Yilmaz of Turkey. Masato faced Jadambaa Narantungalag of Mongolia, who earned a spot in the tournament despite dropping a decision to Albert Kraus in the qualifiers.

Masato struck first with a solid low kick. Jadambaa tired a fast high kick, but Masato fired in a low kick at the same time, chopping Jadambaa’s legs from under him. Masato fired in a sharp right hand, left hook combination at Jadambaa, who returned with some hard body shots and Masato looked to tie him up in the clinch.

Jadambaa tried a spinning back kick, but Masato moved back from the kick, taking away its sting. Jadambaa looked dangerous with his hands, but Masato kept tying him up on the inside and landed with some sharp knees. In the second Masato started the action with more sharp low kicks.

Jadambaa spent most of the round pushing forward looking to punch. Masato showed great control of the ring, using his jab well and countering with sharp punches and low kicks. Jadambaa attempted a jumping, spinning hook kick, but missed the target and crashed to the canvas.

In the final round Jadambaa came out with a flurry of punches, but Masato soaked most of them up on his gloves, before countering with a hard right. Jadambaa tried another high kick, but again Masato kicked his support leg from under him.

Jadambaa kept the pressure up throughout attacking mainly with his hands, but Masato showed a masterful defence and countered back throughout. At the final bell Masato, who won K-1 Max 2003, took a majority decision win and advanced to the semi finals.

Inaugural champion

The final quarter final match saw K-1 Max 2002 winner, Albert Kraus, from the Netherlands who qualified after beating Jadambaa. He faced Shamil Gaidarbekov of Russia, who earned his place by beating Brazil’s Marfio Canoletti.

Shamil started by attacking the legs of Kraus with low kicks. Kraus fired in a few low kicks of his own and started to look for openings for his hands. Kraus landed with a heavy overhand right, but looked a little reserved compared to his tournament fights in previous years.

Shamil kept the pace up in the second coming forward and attacking Kraus with punches. Shamil attempted a spinning back kick, but Kraus read it well and moved out of danger.

Kraus got through with a few solid right hands. Shamil opened up with a flurry of punches near the end of the round, but most bounced harmlessly off of Kraus’s gloves. Kraus landed a hard right to get the final round underway.

Shamil pushed forward opening up with solid punches, but didn’t land with many clean. Kraus soaked up the attacks well and countered back with sharp combinations.

In the final minute of the round Kraus came to life more, pushing forward and attacking with hard punches and knees. Kraus took a majority decision win at the final bell.

Sharp kicks

The first semi final saw Buakaw face Kohiruimaki. Straight away Kohiruimaki looked tentative, as Buakaw stalked forward, opening up with sharp push kicks, knees and body kicks.

Buakaw started to rag doll Kohiruimaki around in the clinch, spinning him down to the canvas several times. Buakaw started to unload with low kicks and Kohiruimaki looked like he was really struggling to stay in the fight.

Buakaw started to walk down Kohiruimaki and opened up with some hard long knees, dropping Kohiruimaki for an eight count. Buakaw kept up the pressure, opening up with hard low kicks, punches and knees.

Kohiruimaki turned his back on Buakaw under the onslaught, but was saved by the bell. Kohiruimaki attacked the legs of Buakaw with low kicks at the start of the second, but was soon dropped again for another eight count by more solid knees.

Buakaw went in for the kill landing a push kick to the face and then followed in with two big knees and Kohiruimaki went down again, this time the referee stopped the fight, with Kohiruimaki totally outclassed.

Familiar foes

Masato faced Kraus next to see who would meet Buakaw in the final. This was the fourth meeting between them with both having won one match, and the other finishing in a draw.

Masato won by KO in the second round of last years K-1 World Max final and the Dutchman was looking to avenge that loss and win the tournament for the second time. The Japanese fighter started the opening round looking busy, using a sharp jab and firing in some fast low kicks.

Kraus looked reliant on his boxing, but struggled a little to find his range. Masato faked a knee and stepped in with a hard left hook that caught Kraus on the temple.

Kraus’s legs wobbled and Masato followed in with more punches, dropping Kraus for an eight count. Masato followed in after the count, but kept his composure and conserved his energy.

In the second stanza Masato pushed forward again coming from behind sharp jab and attacking Kraus with hard punches and low kicks. Kraus looked tentative and struggled to get off with much.

Masato landed with some hard knees and punches and low kicks and looked in total control. In the final round the Japanese fighter looked determined but Kraus started to attack the body and opened up with more hard punches.

Masato was happy to trade back though and the crowd were treated to some thrilling exchanges. Kraus went for broke in the final ten seconds of the round, but the defending champion kept countering back and took a clear points win at the final bell.

Surprising scorecards

The final pitched the tournament favourite and hometown hero Masato against the unheralded and relatively unknown Buakaw. The former looked to get his punches working early as the Thai fired in fast kicks and strong knees.

Buakaw soon looked on top as he fired in three fast push kicks in a row and then rained in fast, hard body kicks. Masato tried to get his punches going, but struggled to land with any effect as the Thai landed two hard knees just before the bell.

Buakaw rushed straight out at the start of the second, opening up again with more solid knees, body kicks and push kicks. Masato showed very little at first as Buakaw looked dominant, but did manage to land with a hard straight right midway through the round, that looked like it could have stunned Buakaw.

Masato tried to follow in, but Buakaw was soon back on top, landing with more eye catching kicks. In the final round Buakaw carried on where he left off, attacking Masato with explosive body kicks, push kicks and knees.

Masato tried to punch, but started to look a little disheartened. Buakaw looked like he was taking it easy on Masato just over halfway through the round and eased off on his attacks a little.

Masato came in with a few punches, but not many landed and those that did had no effect. At the final bell Masato looked exhausted and Buakaw jumped up on the ropes in celebration, feeling sure he had won.

To the surprise of everyone, including Masato, the fight was scored a draw, after one judge scored it for Buakaw and the other two had it even. So not for the first time this evening an extra round was required.

Having taken it easy in the third round Bukaw upped the intensity in the fourth. The Japanese fighter looked exhausted as his opponent attacked relentlessly with push kicks, knees and body kicks.

At the end of the final round the judges had no option but to declare Buakaw the winner.  It was a dominant display of kickboxing prowess from the Muay Thai fighter who has burst onto the scene in spectacular style.

K-1 Max 2004, Tokyo, July 7th
Buakaw Por. Pramuk def. Masato by Decision  (Unanimous) after extra round (K-1 Max Final)
Mixed rules: Norifumi Yamamoto def. Yasuhiro Kazuya Japan by Submission (Armbar) at 2:40 of Round 2
Masato def. Albert Kraus by Decision  (Unanimous) (K-1 Max 1/4 final)
Buakaw Por Pramuk def. Takayuki Kohiruimaki by KO (Knees) at 0:42 of Round 2 (K-1 Max 1/2 final)
Albert Kraus def. Shamil Gaidarbekov by Decision (Majority) (K-1 Max 1/4 final)
Masato def. Jadambaa Narantungalag by Decision (Majority) (K-1 Max 1/4 final)
Buakaw Por Pramuk def. John Wayne Parr by Decision (Split) after extra round (K-1 Max 1/4 final)
Takayuki Kohiruimaki def. Mike Zambidis by Decision (Unanimous) (K-1 Max 1/4 final)
Duane Ludwig def. Serkan Yilmaz by Decision (Unanimous) K-1 Max reserve match)
Takashi Ohno def. Vincent Swaans by TKO (Referee Stoppage) at 2:56 of Round 1

This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights. For more information click here.