K-1 may be quiet these days, but that doesn't mean the rest of the kickboxing world is just sitting back. Shootboxing has their 2nd big show of 2011 coming up later this month, and they have just announced quite the main event. Headlining Shootboxing 2011 act.2 on April 23 will be former multi-time Shootboxing S-Cup and K-1 MAX Grand Prix champion Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato. According to our rankings, that's a clash between the #3 and #5 fighters in the world at 70kg, and no matter how you see it, this is undoubtedly a great fight.
Souwer will come into the fight with a considerably edge in Shootboxing rules; an edge he has used to his advantage before, including his quick submission victory over Hinata last year. He also has the advantage of already holding a win over Sato - the two men met once before in K-1 MAX in 2007 with Souwer scoring the decision win (video below). But Sato is an incredibly skilled fighter, and an opponent you can never underestimate. After a rocky 2008, the Japanese star has regained his footing somewhat, going 9-3 in the last two years. He will be coming in off an upset loss to Armen Petrosyan, while Souwer has two recent upset loses of his own, to Abraham Roqueni under K-1 rules, and to Toby Imada at Shootboxing's 2010 S-Cup.
I see this being a highly technical affair, with both men using superior skill. The trouble for Sato is that Souwer may just have a few more skills in his arsenal. In addition to the experience in Shootboxing's unique rules, Souwer also is skilled at fighting in the clinch - and area that has shown to be a weakness for Sato, as seen most recently in the Armen Petrosyan fight. As he typically does, Sato will have a reach advantage here, and as always, he'll know how to use it. I expect he will try to keep on the outside and pick Souwer apart, but Souwer should be able to break through that range, get inside, and cause Sato enough damage to take the win. This is definitely one of those fights where the old adage of a human chess match will come to life.
This show will serve as a benefit for disaster relief in Japan, with many of the fighters already promising to donate their purses to relief efforts. Also announced for this card are some of Shootboxing's biggest homegrown names: Girls S-Cup champion RENA, Shootboxing 55kg champion Ryuya Kusakabe (who is also scheduled for Krush on April 30, so may end up dropping out of one or the other), and the popular Hiroaki Suzuki.
Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato, K-1 MAX, 2007: