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Kickboxing's Best Kept Secrets Lie In Unexplored Weight Classes

It's really been brought to my attention lately that a lot of people don't have a clue about about any weight classes in kickboxing besides 70kg and heavyweight, the two divisions that K-1 used for the most part throughout its history. The absence of other weight classes in K-1 for so long created somewhat of a sentiment to some people that those weight divisions didn't matter or that the fighters weren't any good or as good compared to 70kg or heavyweight. That couldn't be any more wrong.

The weight classes outside of 70kg and heavyweight have really been left in the dust for so many years. They've never really had a big stage to fight on like K-1. It's Showtime did utilize other weight classes but that platform still wasn't enough to get some recognition for all the world class kickboxers that unfortunately for their wallets, aren't a 70kg fighter or a heavyweight.

The heavyweight division tends to be looked at in such a prestigious light and cited as the place where the best kickboxers in the world are yet there is such a huge drop off after the top 5 even and then again after the top 10 and it's not too soon until you find out that it's mostly mediocrity. In other weight classes you won't see this to the same extent where everything after the top 15 or so is mostly mediocrity. That's not even mentioning that the overall skill levels of the fighters there isn't on the same level as for example, fighters at 60-63.5kg. It's obviously apparent when you actually watch the fights, comparing and analyzing them.

70kg is a strong a deep division, there's no denying that. People look at it as the most stacked weight class in kickboxing, and while it undeniably is, people really don't realize just how many good fighters there are below that weight. Generally it's that people just don't care to find out for themselves and stick with the notion that most popular equals the best. I could name over 30 guys (I'll elaborate on this in another post) around 61kg that are all good, skillful fighters by kickboxing standards, easily moreso than heavyweights. At heavyweight you can barely find 16 top guys all at or around the same level, enough to be competitive with each other, not even mentioning that the field of lightweight fighters is just going to be more skilled in general.

Alexey Ignashov, who at the time had wins over Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and Alexander Ustinov lost to Kaoklai Kaennorsing of all people, a 70kg Thai who was on his way out of the Rajadamnern scene in Thailand, long gone from the time when he won that stadium's title in its weakest weight class. I don't care how "inconsistent" Ignashov was, at the time he was on a six fight win streak that included beating Semmy Schilt and in the past two years only had losses to Peter Aerts and Stefan Leko, both top fighters at heavyweight at that time. Kaoklai also knocked out Mighty Mo who would then go on to beat Remy Bonjasky, right after that fight. Cyril Abidi could stop Peter Aerts twice but then go and lose to Rampage Jackson, twice. This, for the most part, happens at heavyweight and these are some of the best guys there losing these fights. At 70kg, almost all of the time, the top guys beat who they were supposed to beat, as in, MMA fighters, boxers and freakshows. Although these fights haven't happened as much in the lower weight classes, most of the times they have, the guy who's supposed to win has won. The only exception might be Wicky Akiyo vs. Tetsuya Yamato.

Heavyweight and 70kg were also developed for years by the old K-1, and to a much lesser degree they started from the ground up with 63kg. Just look at the talent they produced in such a short time with the Koshien series, and with exclusively Japanese fighters. Give any other weight class the development and platform that 70kg and heavyweight had and it would progress immensely. A world stage with enough money for guys to make a living would not only attract more fighters but also motivate current fighters at that/those particular weight classes even more. With Glory and K-1 now holding all the power and openly talking about more weight classes, it's possible.

I haven't even touched on other weights like 65-67kg, 77kg, 85kg, but you should get the point by now and I like 60-63.5kg a lot so I use it as my example when discussing this matter. After around 72.5kg the overall skill level and talent pool gradually diminishes as you go higher in weight until you get to heavyweight, with a few exceptions in between. 90-95kg arguably has better talent than 85kg. Weight classes in kickboxing are a mess though. Guys fight all over the place. You'll see guys fight at 79kg and then at 85kg like Artem Vakhitov, or at 85kg and then at around 91kg like Sahak Parparyan. There aren't established weight divisions aside from 70kg and heavyweight for the most part.

The bottom line is that most kickboxing fans don't even know about some of the sport's best fighters and some have misconceptions about who the better fighters in the sport really are.


It's Showtime Champ Sahak Parparyan Fights This Weekend

Sahak Parparyan last fought on May 12 in Kortrijk, Belgium where he defended his It's Showtime 85MAX World Title with a unanimous decision victory over Andrew Tate in a hard fought contest. That was Sahak's fourth fight of the year and understandably, he took some time off. His return is set, and it's this weekend.

On this Saturday, September 15 in Alkmaar, Netherlands, Sahak Parparyan returns to the ring and he's taking on another It's Showtime veteran, Jason Wilnis. Wilnis fought on the same card as Sahak in May, dropping a decision to Cheick Sidibe. He last fought on September 2 at the Muay Thai Mania V card in The Hague, getting a decision win over Louis Tavares. Wilnis is only 21 and still has a lot ahead of him in his career.

For Sahak, he's considered the best 85kg fighter in the world at the moment. He's also ventured up in weight on more than one occasion, beating Mourad Bouzidi at 95kg on short notice and beating Toni Milanovic at 91kg. Wilnis has also fought up in weight, as his last fight was at 93kg.

Also on the card is one of the brightest up and comers on the Dutch scene, Steve Poort. He's still in the B Class and is fighting Regian Eersel there.


Danyo Ilunga, Gago Drago Fighting Tomorrow In Germany

Once again Germany has a kickboxing card with some notable fighters. Tomorrow, September 8 in Merseburg, Germany, Merseburger Fight Night goes down with names like Danyo Ilunga, Gago Drago, Marco Pique and Wendell Roche on the card.

The It's Showtime 95MAX World Champion Danyo Ilunga will be competing in a one night, eight man tournament for a prize of $10 000. Ilunga faces Wendell Roche in the first round of the tournament, in a rematch of their It's Showtime title fight from December of 2010. The other first round tournament match-ups are Utley Meriana vs. Salvo Polugic, Senad Hadzic vs. Martin Jahn and Uguz Ovgur vs. Vladimir Toktasynov. Reserve fights are Sergio Pique vs. Jerry Otto and Romano Romasco vs. Steve Kitzing.

Gago Drago returns to action as he takes on Bakar Barakat. This is Drago's first fight since his loss to Andy Ristie in May at K-1 in Madrid, and he's lost eight in a row. Barakat has mostly done boxing lately, fighting 23 boxing matches in 2011. (Yes, we're not kidding.) The level of opposition that he beat, however was for the most part not good. He comes off two decision losses in a row in boxing this year. Barakat is a veteran of kickboxing, though.

Marco Pique fights Max Baumert. Pique comes off a loss to Aikpracha Meenayothin, although there's no shame in that.

Bakar Barakat vs Gago Drago
Alban Ahmeti vs Onur Karaoglan
Max Baumert vs Marco Pique
Waldemar Wiebe vs Peter Bäumler
Muay Thai
Peter Chobanov vs Mikail Bajramov
K-1 $10 000 Heavyweight Tournament
Group 1
Utley Meriana vs Slavo Polugic
Patrick Liedert vs Martin Jahn
Group 2
Wendell Roche vs Danyo Ilunga
Uguz Övgür vs Vladimir Toktasynov
Reserve Fights
Sergio Pique vs Jerry Otto
Romano Romasco vs Steven Kitzing

Hiroki Akimoto vs Yosuke Morii Headlines MA Kick/WBC Japan Card on 10/7

MA Kick has announced a co-sponsored event with WBC Muay Thai set to take place on October 7th at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo and featuring 3 WBC Japan champions defending their titles, as well as a battle for the vacant Bantamweight title. 

The main event will feature one of, if not the biggest fight to take place in the Japanese scene outside of Krush, RISE and Shootboxing this year, pitting current WBC Japan and WPMF Japan Featherweight champion Yosuke Morii against MA Kick Featherweight champion Hiroki Akimoto for Morii's WBC Japan title. Morii (20-3-2, 9 KO) had a very strong 2011 which culminated in a much-hyped fight against Genji Umeno, which Umeno won quite handily. This year, Morii is 2-1, taking a loss in Thailand to begin his year, but bouncing back with a win over Heihachi Nakajima to win the vacant WBC Japan title and defending his WPMF Japan title against Hiroki Nagashima. After a successful career in K-1 Koshien, which saw his only two losses coming in 2009 to eventual finalist Shota Shimada and in the 2010 finals against Shohei Hareyama, Akimoto is 15-0-0 (8 KO) in his professional career and has won his last 8 fights by knockout, most recently stopping Hiroki Fujisawa to claim the vacant MA Kick Featherweight title. While Akimoto hasn't exactly fought elite competition in the division, it is hard to argue against him being #3 behind Morii and Umeno considering how his career has gone so far. With Morii just 24 and Akimoto very recently turning 20, this is a key battle between two young stars in the Featherweight division and with K-1's weight class expansion, the winner of this fight will likely have a better chance of getting chosen by K-1, especially with Genji Umeno attending the most recent K-1 press conference. I give a slight edge to Morii here as he has more experience and will probably be able to handle what Akimoto throws at him more than Akimoto can handle Morii's offense.

At Flyweight, WBC Japan and WPMF Japan Flyweight champion Ryuji Kato will look to make the first defense of his WBC title against Hiroyuki Yamano. Kato (18-3-1, 9 KO) is coming off of a defense of his WPMF Japan title against Shuichi Wentz which snapped a 2-fight losing streak. He won his WBC Japan title about a year ago, defeating then-champion Naoki Otsuki. Yamano snapped a 2-fight losing streak of his own with an upset TKO of MA Kick Flyweight champ Yuuji Uwasawa via cut. The two have two common opponents in recent times in Yuuji Uwasawa and Naoki Otsuki, with Yamano going 2-0 and Kato going 1-1. Despite that, I give an edge to Kato as I feel he is the better fighter and Yamano's win over Uwasawa was a product of circumstance seeing as he won by cut while Kato took him 5 rounds and only lost by a point on two cards.

WBC Japan and NJKF Welterweight champion Yuya Yamato will look to defend his WBC title against former WPMF Japan Welterweight champ Daiki Watabe. Yamato (14-7-0, 9 KO) most recently took a tough fight against Yuta Kubo in Krush, losing by 2nd round KO and snapping a 2-fight winning streak where he took wins off of Kanongsuk Weerasakreck and Pradesh Lookprabaht. Yamato won his WBC title from Soichiro Miyakoshi last July and will look to make his first defense here. While Watabe (13-8-1, 9 KO) is just 3-3 in his last 6 fights, he is a deserving challenger, as those 3 losses came to Chi Bin Lim and twice to T-98, who is proving to be one of the top Welterweights in Japan. He has won two in a row, most recently stopping Yukimaru to earn this fight. Yamato should be a good favorite here, but being rattled by Yuta Kubo may have some negative effects on him and could open a window of opportunity for Watabe, who has the power to stop Yamato, who was stopped in 3 of his last 4 losses.

In the final WBC Japan title fight, Takuma Ito and J-Network Bantamweight champion Kentaro Kimura will face off for the vacant WBC Japan Bantamweight title. Ito (13-3-1, 6 KO) started his career 12-0-1, but suffered three straight losses, losing in battles for the vacant WPMF Japan Super Flyweight and Bantamweight titles to Kiminori Matsuzaki and TO-MA, respectively, and losing his MA Kick Bantamweight title to Takashi Ohno. He recently bounced back with a stoppage of Banzen Esugym in June. Kimura has won 5 in a row since a loss to Namito Izawa at Krush.11, winning the J-Network Bantamweight tournament and most recently defeating Yuya Suzuki at Krush.21. Though I like Ito a lot as he trains out of Hashimoto Dojo, he has been shaky in title fights and Kimura has a more impressive resume, especially across his last 5 wins. 

Finally, MA Kick Flyweight champion Yuuji Uwasawa will take a non-title bout against Nagata Haryi. While Haryi isn't a big opponent, Uwasawa has already lost a non-title fight to an unheralded opponent this year and will need to come ready to fight if he doesn't want to fall to 0-2 in non-title fights.


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