TOKYO, April 3, 2007 -- With the best of the best scheduled to face-off in 11 bouts, tomorrow's K-1 World Max Elite Showcase event promises to be a night to remember. The Defending and Former World Max Champions will be joined in the ring by the best Max fighters from the past and a number of exciting emerging fighters. The one-match format is an opportunity for these elite warriors to stake their claim for a spot at the World Max Final Elimination, set for this June 28 at the Nippon Budokan.
The 70 kg/154lbs weight class World Max is an addictive cocktail of technique, speed and energy that has thrilled fans for five seasons. All fights are conducted under regular K-1 rules (3min x 3R w/ 1R tiebreaker).
The 22 fighters who will clash at the Yokohama Arena tomorrow shared their thoughts with the media today in a press conference at the Sheraton Miyako Hotel in downtown Tokyo.
In the Main Event, it will be World Max 2003 Champion Masato of Japan and IKF European Muay Thai Middleweight Champion Ole Laursen of Denmark.
Said Masato: "I want this to be a good fight. 'Challenge' is my new motto, and I'm going to challenge myself to perform well!"
Laursen: "Fighting Masato is a big chance for me, I will put 200% of my heart into it and it will be a good fight!"
The penultimate bout will feature 2005 World Max Champion Andy Souwer of Holland and this year's World Max Japan Champion, Yoshihiro Sato.
Souwer: "I haven't fought for a long time now, I know Sato is up and coming and so I'll concentrate and fight hard, I promise a good fight!"
Sato got a laugh from the reporters with a pun on the first character in his native Aichi Prefecture, which is a homonym for 'love.' He then pledged to do his best in the ring.
Armenian muay thai fighter Drago will meet Yutaro Yamauchi of Japan.
Drago: "It's an honor to be here, I will do my best and show you a spectacular fight!"
Yamauchi: "This is my first fight, and I have a strong opponent, I will enjoy it, and put on a good fight!"
The Defending and lone two-time World Max Champion is Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand. Tomorrow he will step in against Andy Ologun of Nigeria, a Japanese media celebrity who has shown a surprising prowess in the ring.
Buakaw: "This is a great card, I think every match will be exciting, but I want to make mine the most exciting of all!"
Ologun: "I will fight with a 'never surrender' spirit!"
South African boxer Virgil Kalakoda and fellow pugilist Hiroyuki Maeda of Japan did a little verbal sparring at the press conference.
Kalakoda: "Tomorrow, I will be the teacher and you will be the student, and I will give you a lesson in fighting."
Maeda: "I'm so angry with his remark I forgot what I was going to say! Well, I'm 35 years old, not a student anymore, so tomorrow I will teach him. I'm the man, and he will fall down!"
The inaugural K-1 World Max was won by Albert Kraus, and the Dutch boxer remains very dangerous in the ring. Tomorrow, Kraus will take on Japanese fighter Tatsuji, who is pretty good with the fist himself.
Kraus: "I will do my best."
Tatsuji: "I will be aggressive from round one, my plan is to hit hard and break his jaw."
Shoot boxer Daniel Dawson of Australia will meet Ray Sefo protégé Jordan Tai of New Zealand in the battle of Oceania.
Dawson: "These fighters are the best in the world, I can't wait to win and become a K-1 superstar!"
Tai: "I'm honored to be here and I respect Daniel, too bad he can't win tomorrow."
Mike Zambidis of Greece is a power puncher. His opponent here will be kickboxer Kozo Takeda of Japan.
Zambidis: "I said before, I think K-1 is the Olympics of kickboxing, and I look forward to competing at the highest level tomorrow."
Takeda: "I want to do my best."
A showdown between a couple of pesky and creative Mongolians will see Jadamba Narantungalag take on Tsogto "Shinobu" Amara.
Narantungalag: "I am honored to be here with these talented fighters, I will do my best."
Amara: "I want to make a wonderful match!"
Australian jujitsu fighter Ian Schaffa will meet Keiji Ozaki of Japan.
Schaffa: "I will do my best!"
Ozaki: "I want to perform well, win and become famous around the world!"
In an extraordinary 60kg/132lbs opening fight, Japanese recent junior high school grad Hiroya will take on countryman Noritaka Nishimura, a 24-year-old making his first appearance in the K-1 ring. Nishimura joked during his comments that he will have to overcome his 15 year old opponent's superior experience level.
"I'm excited, thanks to all," remarked Hiroya, who will be attending high school and continuing his muay thai training this year in Thailand.
The K-1 World Max Elite Showcase kicks off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4 at the Yokohama Arena. The event will be broadcast live in Japan on the TBS television network. In other countries contact local broadcasters for scheduling information. Visit the K-1 Official Web Site (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for official results, photos and detailed coverage of this and all K-1 events.