As one of the most exciting years kickboxing has experienced for a long time comes to an end, the Chinese are set to cap 2016 (or, kick-off 2017) with Kunlun Fight 56 on January 1, 2017 in Sanya, China.
The main event of the night focuses on the 70kg Kunlun World Max finals in a 4-man tournament featuring: Davit Kiria vs. Jomthing Chuwattana and Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef.
Davit Kiria has overcome a turbulent period in his kickboxing career, having lost the first two fights of this year against, Sitthichai at GLORY 28 and Tayfun Ozcan at Kunlun Fight 41.
In an effort to turnaround his run of poor form, Kiria made some serious changes to his coaching set-up and started training with Team Holzken earlier this year.
Both Nieky Holzken and Davit Kiria are former GLORY Kickboxing champions in the welterweight and lightweight divisions respectively. However, the pair had previously fought each other in March 2012 at United Glory 15, with Holzken the victor via UD.
However, despite being former adversaries the pair gained a mutual respect for each other as sportsmen, which resulted in Kiria making the move to Team Holzken after years training with the likes of David Jonkers and Semmy Schilt.
Since making the overhaul with his training arrangements, Kiria has won his last two fights via UD in China for Kunlun Fight. He defeated Robbie Hageman at Kunlun Fight 48 in what was a reserve bout for the Kunlun World Max tournament which will concluded at Kunlun Fight 56. At the time, Hageman had been training with UFC two weight champion, Conor McGregor, before accepting the Kiria fight with approximately two weeks notice.
However, Kiria would then go on to defeat Dzianis Zeuv at Kunlun Fight 52 in the ‘Final 16’ elimination stage of this year’s Kunlun Max via UD in September. He would then receive a “bye” to the semi-finals when Mohamed Mezouari, would be hospitalised in the lead-up to their Kunlun Fight 54 fight due to a case of food poisoning.
Now, Jomthong Chuwattana awaits Kiria in the semi-finals of the Kunlun World Max with, Superbon vs. Cedric Manhoef in the other semi-final at Kunlun Fight 56. In the previous round, Superbon had defeated the current GLORY lightweight champion and last year’s Kunlun Max winner, Sitthichai, in the ‘Final 8’ at Kunlun Fight 48.
It would be fair to assume that with Superbon defeating a man who man feel is currently the best lightweight in the world would make him the bookies tip to win this year’s Kunlun World Max tournament.
Also in the semi-final’s is three time Rajadamnern stadium champion Jomthong, who’s only only defeat this year came against Qiu Jianliang by decision (after an extra round) at Glory of Heroes 1. The majority of his fights this year were group qualifiers and then the ‘Final 16’ and ‘Final 8’ rounds for this year’s Kunlun Max; and all six of his victories were from decisions.
His career achievements to-date reinforce Jomthong’s global reputation in Muay Thai, especially since defeating Anuwat Kaewsamrit in 2008 for, the WBC world Muay Thai featherweight championship.
His successful transition to kickboxing in the last few years shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise though. Over the last six years, he has accumulated a pro boxing record of, nine wins and one defeat including, three continental boxing titles.
Kunlun Fight 56 takes place at the Mangrove Tree International Conference Center in Sanya Hainan China.
Kunlun Fight 56 – Fight card (and running order):
Abdullayev vs. Ma Shuo, 75kg
Denies Puric vs. Wang Wenfeng, 60kg
Felipe Stievano vs. Andrey Gerasimchuk, 100kg
Mohamed Mezouari vs. Dzianis Zuev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max
Arthit vs. Khatal Dzhaniev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max
Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana, 70kg – Semi-final A, Kunlun World Max
Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef, 70kg – Semi-final B, Kunlun World Max
Andrei Kulebin vs. Wu Xuesong, 70kg
Sergii Kulaiaba vs. Gu Hui, 67kg
Winner of semi-final A vs. winner of semi-final B, 70kg Kunlun World Max
Juan Javier Barragan vs. Wei Ninghui, 65kg
Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin, 70kg