K-1 - Musashi, Hoost and Sapp Win in Saitama

Musashi vs. Akebono

Mar 27, 2004
In the main event, Japan's strongest K-1 fighter, Musashi, stepped in against former Sumo Grand Champion Akebono. This was the second K-1 fight for Akebono, who lost by first round KO to Bob Sapp on New Year's Eve. Akebono tips the scales at 220 kg, more than double Musashi (102 kg), and stands 18 cm taller than the Seidokaikan fighter. Akebono's K-1 coaches (first Steve Kalakuda and more recently Samoan Fai Falamoe) have strived to convert that size to power. Said Falamoe's cousin and K-1 veteran Ray Sefo, who has also been working with Akebono recently: "Naturally, Chad (Akebono) is a strong guy. But you have to learn to walk before you can run. So, Fai and I have been focusing on the basics, teaching Chad to use his reach, and developing his blocking and his jabbing."

Akebono made an emotional entrance to the ring, while the silver-haired Musashi pranced in to a laser show and pyrotechnics. From the bell, Akebono stood in the center of the ring while Musashi danced the perimeter, tossing in straight punches and low kicks. Midway through the first, Akebono rumbled forward, and used his colossal belly to squeeze Musashi against the ropes until the referee stepped in to separate the fighters. Thus began a pattern which would continue throughout the fight.

In the second, Akebono again got Musashi into the corner, at which point Musashi slipped and fell to a sitting position. Akebono then inexplicably delivered a couple of foul right hooks to the side of Musashi's head. He followed these up with four foul piledriver lefts to the top and back of Musashi's head before the referee could stop him, and Musashi crumpled face-first into the canvas.

Musashi was attended to by a ring doctor during a break of several minutes, the doctor electing not to use his prerogative to stop the bout. Referee Nobuaki Kakuda scolded Akebono for unsportsmanlike conduct, and announced that he would allow Musashi to continue if he chose to, which he did.

For the balance of the fight the previously outlined pattern recurred -- Akebono pushing forward and sandwiching Musashi against the ropes, pressing in with the ample gut while throwing body blows, tight hooks, or squeezing in an uppercut, the referee then moving in to break. In the interludes between Akebono's suffocating blubber maneuvers, Musashi executed some nice attacks -- straight punches, a few low kicks, a couple of high kicks, and a spinning back kick.

In the dying moments of the fight, Akebono swung a haymaker round and swatted Musashi good, then followed up with a Sumo pushing and throwing attack -- which, unfortunately, are not permitted under K-1 rules. A unique bout, which Musashi took by unanimous decision.

Afterward, Akebono was quick to apologize to Musashi and to his fans for the fouls.

"I realized Akebono's power and his stamina and endurance," said Musashi in the winner's circle. "At first I was cautious, but after the fouls, I don't really remember things so well, but I just kept on coming in because I felt pressure to win, as the fight was the main event."

In an undercard bout, Brazilian Fabiano beat Hiroshi Tajima of Japan by unanimous decision.

The K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Saitama attracted a sellout crowd of 14,918 to the Saitama Super Arena. It was same-day broadcast across Japan on the Fuji TV network. The official results can be found on the K-1 USA Website.
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