|02-10-2004, 08:59 AM||#1|
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Exclusive Interview: Masato
By Michael Afromowitz
[January 12, 2004] When K-1 established its 160 pound limit “Max” division in 2002, it had a good idea that the new promotion’s lead figure would be a superstar from its native Japan. Two years later, the intuition of the most prominent martial arts fighting federation has proved to be correct as 24-year-old Masato sits a top one of the strongest fields of fighters in martial arts fighting.
After being surprisingly upended by rival standout Albert Kraus during the inaugural World Max tournament playoff, the pride of Japan rebounded this year and took hold of the second championship crown this spring by scoring a second round knockout over Kraus. To cap off a sensational year, Masato took his superior technical game to the city of Tokyo on November 18th for a one-of-a-kind meeting with former International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Junior Welterweight boxing champion, “Cool” Vince Phillips.
On Friday, January 16th, Masato’s K-1 World Max headline fight with Phillips will air on United States Pay-Per-View television along with several other bouts from the November event as part of the K-1 “Battle Of The Rising Sun” program. The broadcast will mark the first time in history that American fight fans will have the opportunity to take in K-1 Max action on TV.
Q: How would you rate your performance against Vince Phillips in comparison to your performance in the World Max tournament earlier this year?
A: Well, a tournament and a one match fight are totally different so they are hard to compare. But, I’m satisfied with my performance against Vince. I was able to pull out everything in the ring and my strategy worked out perfectly.
Q: What was it like fighting a professional boxer under K-1 rules for the first time in your career?
A: I enjoyed it a lot – fighting with a boxer. I will accept challenges from boxers anytime, especially the present champions and, of course, I will kick their asses.
Q: It seems that a lot of professional boxers have taken an interest lately in competing in K-1. What kind of place do you feel these fighters have in the sport of K-1?
A: We K-1 fighters welcome them any time. I don’t know how well most of them can do in K-1. It seems that they are similar sports, but actually they are different sports. One thing I can say to you – they cannot defeat me. I am a fighter with a great Samurai spirit – not only with the physical strength, but also with a tenacious spirit.
Q: Who in your weight division in K-1 or in the entire kickboxing world do you feel could give you the greatest test right now?
A: No one can compete with me in this circuit. I need new challengers.
Q: At 24 years of age, you still have many years of fighting ahead of you. What kinds of things would you like to accomplish during this time?
A: I want to stay at the top of this circuit as long as I can and expand my popularity in the United States as well. Hopefully, this will help me become a movie star in Hollywood.
Q: What would be your dream fight here in The United States if you could have your choice of opponent, location, etc?
A: I really want to fight at Madison Square Garden, with a fighter who gets the highest fight fee in the world. I will show what true strength really is. True strength is formed with physical strength and Samurai spirit.
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