TOKYO, June 27, 2007 -- Action in this year's K-1 World Max series heats up tomorrow with a do-or-die showdown featuring 18 of the best fighters in the popular 70kg/154lbs weight class. Set for the historic Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo, the Final Elimination tournament will advance fighters to October's K-1 World Max final.
Today, participating fighters shared their pre-event thoughts with the media in a standing-room-only press conference at the Meridian Pacific Hotel.
The Main Event tomorrow will feature the '03 World Max Champion Masato of Japan; and the defending Hero's mixed martial arts middleweight champion, JZ Calvin of Brazil.
Masato was relaxed as usual, saying "I will just go to the fight and do my best. The only thing I'm worried about, with this hot weather, is drinking too much water and getting bloated. So I'll watch out for that!"
JZ was similarly casual: I am a fighter but I am also a fan, and this is an awesome card so I'm looking forward to the event. In my fight with Masato we have two champions, and I hope people will enjoy it!"
The penultimate match up will see defending and two-time World Max Champion Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand take on Western European World Max Champion Nicky Holtzken of Holland.
Buakaw: "I want to show the fans a both interesting and entertaining match"
Holtzken: "This is my first time fighting in Japan and I am happy and confident and I can't wait -- there will be fireworks in the ring I promise!"
The 2005 World Max champion and runner-up in last year's final is shoot boxer Andy Souwer of Holland. Tomorrow he will meet muay thai fighter Ole Laursen of Denmark, one of several "producer's picks" on the card.
Souwer did not attend the press conference, as he was in the steam room sweating off a little extra weight to qualify later today at 70kg.
Said Laursen: "I trained hard for this match, and I hope Andy did too. I am ready!"
Armenian muay thai fighter Drago made it to the World Max semifinals in '06. For another shot at glory, tomorrow he will have to get past a little guy with a big punch, producer's pick Mike Zambidis of Greece.
Drago: "I will show a really nice fight."
Zambidis: "I haven't decided what I'll wear tomorrow, but I do know I will put on a spectacular fight -- I want the audience to get their money's worth!"
The World Max Japan Champion for the last two years is Yoshihiro Sato. Tomorrow, the lanky kickboxer will be tested by World Max Eastern Europe Champion, muay thai fighter Denis Schneidmiller of Germany.
Sato: "Last year I lost against Buakaw, this year I will use that experience to advance!"
Schneider: "I want to have a special match tomorrow, I think it's going to be a great one!"
Albert Kraus of Holland was the first-ever World Max Champion. Kraus made it to the final eight last year, and tomorrow he will face fellow boxer and '06 final eight fighter, Virgil Kalakoda of South Africa.
Speaking in Japanese, Kraus promised to do his best.
The easy-going Kalakoda joked, "There are already three Dutchmen in this tournament, Albert -- I think that's too many and so I'm afraid you aren't going to make it through!"
A producer's pick, muay thai fighter Artur Kyshenko of the Ukraine, will step in against Asian World Max Champion Soo-Hwan Lee of South Korea.
Kyshenko: "I feel great to be here, I want to come to this sort of pleasant press conference more often, so I will do my best tomorrow in order to be invited back!"
Lee: "I want to show fans all over the world my surprising ability."
Kohiruimaki: "I know that Shinobu has stamina and is good fighter, I look forward to the fight!"
Amara: "I want to make this my most beautiful fight ever!"
There will also be a couple of Superfights on the card: kickboxers Takayuki Kohiruimaki of Japan and Tsogto "Shinobu" Amara of Mongolia will mix it up; and Japanese boxer Tatsuji will go up against Nigeria's Andy Ologun.
All fights will be conducted under K-1Rules (3min x 3R with a possible tiebreaker round). The action kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Nippon Budokan, and will be broadcast live in Japan on the TBS Network. For scheduling information elsewhere contact local broadcasters. As always, visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for complete coverage of this and all K-1 tournaments.