Not so close, please! (2)

Mauled by Buakaw Pramuk in the title fight of the 2004 K-1 World  MAX kick-boxing tournament, Masato had to wait three years for his revenge. When both fighters met again in 2007 Masato was expected to benefit from the rule change which allowed only one knee per clinch. Cynics would say that the organisers of the event did all they could to help the local boy but it was up to Masato to take advantage of it. That he stepped into the ring focused, confident and positive is a mark of a great warrior.

As with the 2004 title bout please bear in mind that both fighters are trying to play to their strengths – Buakaw’s kicking and kneeing and Masoto’s mid-range punches. So, this is what the spectators at the quarter finals of the 2007 K-1 World MAX kick-boxing tournament were treated to:

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This is one of the most memorable kick-boxing bouts ever in that Masato, after being humiliated by Buakaw the previous time they met, managed to adopt the fight plan which gave him a decisive win. He stayed at mid-range most of the time where his superior punching skills were the difference. Except in parts of the second round, Buakaw failed to take advantage of the roundhouse and push kicks which had given him victory over Masato in 2004. With the changed rules (only one knee allowed) clinch was not a factor in 2007.

The last minute of this fight is a master-class in combination punching by Masato. After 2007 both fighters continued their careers, then retired and came back from the retirement but for me nothing matches the intensity of their 2004/2007 K-1 rivalry.

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