The K-1 MAX 2009 World champion, Georgio Petrosyan, has indeed been forced to withdraw from the main event of the 2009 FieLDS Dynamite!! on New Year's Eve against Masato due to fractured right hand.
Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG) held a press conference on Thursday, November 12 to announce that Andy Souwer will replace Petrosyan in Masato's farewell bout.
Along with the eventual winner of the K-1 MAX 2009 World Championship, Souwer has been a top candidate for Masato's opponent since Masato announced his retirement early this year.
Fitting for the final bout of his career, two-time K-1 MAX World champion and Japanese K-1 icon, Masato seeks to avenge his previous two losses in as many bouts against the fellow two-time K-1 MAX world champion.
In their first meeting in the semi-final round of the K-1 MAX 2006 World Championship tournament, Souwer defeated Masato via decision to advance to the final against Buakaw Por Pramuk. Souwer again bested Masato -- this time via corner stoppage TKO at the end of the second round -- in the tournament final of the K-1 MAX 2007 World Championship.
Unlike the usual three-minute, three-round K-1 matches, Masato-Souwer will be contested as a five-rounder with three minute rounds and one extra round. The extended round length will be implemented in hope that Masato and Souwer give a proverbial 110% and a clear-cut winner emerges in the end.
Masato fought his second to last fight in July at K-1 MAX 2009 World Championship Final 8 where he defeated the world class lightweight MMA fighter, Tatsuya Kawajiri via second-round TKO. At the press conference, Masato divulged that he fought Kawajiri for a tune-up bout and actually began the preparation for the Dynamite!! appearance in April.
Souwer bested Artur Kyshenko in a close contest to enter the semi-final round of the K-1 MAX 2009 World Championship. In the semi-final round, he edged the fellow K-1 MAX fixture, Buakaw Por Pramuk by split decision after going to an extra round. In the tournament final on the same night, the battle-weary Souwer fell short against Georgio Petrosyan who dispatched Yuya Yamamoto in the first round earlier in the night.
From Sadaharu Tanikawa:
"The biggest highlight of this year's Dynamite!! New Year's Eve event is the retirement bout of Masato, who has been the central figure in K-1 and has spearheaded the Japanese combat sport scene throughout the 2000s. 2009 is the last year of the 2000's and thus a sort of conclusion and assessment point. That the fighters such as Musashi, Kozo Takeda, and Hayato who have been active throughout the 2000's announced their retirement this year is symbolic (of the end of an era). 2000 was a tumultuous year with the death of Andy Hug (K-1 legend from the '90s) and other events, but it has already been nearly ten years since then. I hope that, with Masato's retirement, the upcoming Dynamite!! event will mark a fresh start for the Japanese combat sport."
"I think some people might remember me taking the mic and proclaiming that 'This is my era from now on' after defeating Mourad Sari, who was considered one of the best fighters in the world at the time, by KO in November of 2000. Nine years later, on December 31, 2009, I would like to defeat Andy Souwer by KO and announce, 'my era, which I proclaimed began in 2000, has just come to an end.' (Meeting Souwer in the retirement bout) is defintely a destiny. It is a narrative which ends with my defeat of Souwer. I became a champion in 2003 and since then, I have become the champion once again last year without having been able to defeat him. They are all part of the narrative -- a grand story of K-1 MAX. That is why Souwer has become my final opponent and the destiny holds that the story will end with my defeating him. We will go toe to toe with each other and make it a memorable fight."
For more on the upcoming FieLDS Dynamite!! event click here.