K-1 WORLD GP 2003 FINAL 12/6/03 Tokyo Dome (67,320 sellout)
Reserve Match: Carter Williams vs. Bjorn Bregy R2 2:06. Bregy held Williams off for the first round, but didn’t use his reach advantage and was only able to land a few of his knees. Carter wants to fight inside, which should help the 6’8” Bregy deliver his knees, but Bregy mostly tied him up and sometimes landed illegal rabbit punches. Bregy probably won round 1, but was muscled in round 2, slipping, being pushed or thrown down several times. Williams got inside and put Bregy down with a right that Bregy said was to the throat. Williams soon got the two knockdown victory, putting Bregy down with a combination of head punches. Nothing special.
K-1 WORLD GP 2003 Quarterfinals:
Cyril Abidi vs. Francois Botha 3R. Botha’s big punishment for immediately going berserk and getting DQ’d for a blatantly illegal punch on 10/11/03 was being put right back in the tournament for a rematch. What’s next, bonuses for Tong Po style post match maimings? It’s no wonder Abidi’s response when Botha pushed him down after taking his low kick was to kick up at Botha, which is of course illegal, so Botha had no opportunity to throw another illegal punch.
Botha just charged in every time. Abidi was too timid, not throwing enough kicks, especially low kicks. His defense was excellent though. Basically, he’d kick Botha when Botha was coming in. Botha would take it to get the position, but Abidi would block high so Botha couldn’t get any punches through and Abidi would quickly tie Botha up. That was the fight in a nutshell until Abidi leveled Botha with a right high kick as Botha was loading up a punch at the end of round 3. I had Abidi ahead before this since Botha didn’t attempt to do anything beyond boxing, and his boxing was constantly thwarted. An adequate but tedious fight.
Remy Bonjasky vs. Peter Graham R1 2:58. Bonjasky was on a whole different level. He was way too fast for everyone, and he used all types of strikes with tremendous accuracy. When Bonjasky wasn’t looking for the lethal flying knees or kicks, he was actually at his most dangerous because he’s too hard to keep up with when he’s mixing his blows. He put Graham down with a short knee to the ribs. There were only a few seconds left in the round, but Bonjasky put the pressure on and got the second knockdown with a knee just before the bell. Graham fought hard and valiantly, but it was like he was in slow motion. Fun to watch because of Bonjasky.
Ray Sefo vs. Musashi 3R. Sefo got the flu two weeks before the fight. He also had some kind of injury to his lower left leg. His stamina is always suspect to begin with, but these added problems had him really out of shape. Musashi looked like an idiot with this silver crap in his hair, but at least he didn’t fight like one. He came out very actively, kicking Sefo in the injured leg and making Sefo chase him. Sefo quickly tired of chasing and decided to spend the rest of the night taunting Musashi. Despite the nickname “Sugarfoot” Sefo really didn’t throw any kicks, and instead of even attacking with punches he did some silly jigs and made all kinds of ridiculous faces. In the entire fight, he landed one good technique, a spinning back fist he wasn’t even able to follow it up. I’d like to give Sefo credit for fighting hurt, but I’m still waiting for him to cut the crap and actually do some fighting. Musashi scored on his sluggish bloated opponent almost at will en route to a majority decision, avenging his loss at WORLD GP 2000. The worst kind of "fight".
Peter Aerts vs. Alexey Ignashov 4R. Ignashov came in too heavy and didn’t fight like himself. His famous knees were nowhere to be found. Aerts had better movement and stamina, but the fight was pretty even. Both got some good blows in, but neither could follow them up. One judge gave the fight to Aerts, but two called it a draw leading to an extra round. Aerts had a lot more energy left and didn’t hold anything back, landing several kicks in overtime. The extra round was the best so far, though Ignashov still didn’t show a lot. Aerts won the round clearly, but as he’s gotten older stamina has been his Achilles’ heel in the big tournaments. It makes no difference if you don’t get out of the first fight, but expending so much energy to make sure he did so killed Aerts chances of winning the tournament. Somewhat disappointing, but still a good match.
K-1 WORLD GP 2003 Semifinals:
Remy Bonjasky vs. Cyril Abidi R1 1:46. I thought Abidi might be able to give Bonjasky a little trouble since he’s one of the quicker, more flexible fighters K-1 books in these freakshow days. This was another big mismatch though, as even Abidi wasn’t close to quick enough on his blocks. Bonjasky used a barrage of knees early, which helped open up a nasty left high kick that left Abidi out on his feet. It was impressive that he didn’t go down, but wobbling toward the ropes just meant Bonjasky got to punch him before the ref called it a knockdown. Abidi was surprisingly able to continue, but quickly ate a jumping knee for the KO.
Peter Aerts vs. Musashi 3R. The deck was really stacked in Musashi’s favor. He was the only finalist that didn’t have to fight on at K-1 WORLD GP 2003 FINAL ELIMINATION 10/11/03, he got to fight a guy that only resembled Ray Sefo in the quarterfinal, and now he got a spent Aerts who thanks to Abidi got almost no break between fights. Of course, a tired Aerts is still a tough fighter, but there’s plenty of recent evidence to show a tired Aerts rarely wins a big fight. Aerts was able to get one step from the final match this year though, and he did stalk Musashi throughout the fight. Musashi’s defense held up to the pressure, and he did a very good job of counter striking. Musashi was the sharper, crisper fighter and he found plenty of openings after Aerts initiated. Still, this was a close fight. I think the majority decision for Musashi was fair, but this was almost as close as Aerts vs. Ignashov was through three rounds, so I was hoping for an extension. Musashi became the first Japanese fighter to make it to the World Grand Prix Final.
K-1 WORLD GP 2003 Final: Remy Bonjasky vs. Musashi 3R. I have to give credit to Musashi here. He did everything he could to stay in this fight, and it worked. The primary reason he was successful, I think, is he kept his head and body moving but not his feet. Bonjasky’s knees and flying strikes are most effective when he can leap at a retreating fighter, but Musashi refused to back away. Musashi still took a lot of punishment, but he never got rocked and kept firing back. Bonjasky had to use his hands to knock Musashi back in order to get him near the ropes where he could start bringing the knees, but this meant a much more predictable Bonjasky. Bonjasky still dominated the fight, but Musashi at least kept him honest and made him work hard for three rounds. Bonjasky won a unanimous decision to capture the World Grand Prix for the first time. Good match.