Kickboxing Global Awards 2014 is back with part two of our yearly breakdown. The best panel of kickboxing eggheads have already revealed their respective fighter of the year, knockout of the year and promotion of the year in part one. Now for the final chapter of 2014.
Fight of the Year
Michael Stets (@Michael_Stets) MMA Mania: I would also have to say Joe Schilling vs. Simon Marcus at GLORY Last Man Standing. The opening round by Schilling, the knockdown by Marcus in the second, the last round by Schilling, the extra round, the crowd, and the knockout with less than 30 seconds in the fight could not have been scripted better. Amazing moment in an amazing fight that saw Schilling finally beat a former nemesis and hand him the first loss in his career in 40 fights.
Fraser Coffeen (@FCoffeen) Bloody Elbow: Schilling vs Marcus. I think it would have been my pick even without the backstory, but everything leading up to it, plus the fact that it was Marcus’s highly anticipated Glory debut, made it a truly remarkable fight. Honorable mention to Ristie vs Kiria, which I just loved so much, and Valtellini vs. De Bonte.
Dave Walsh (@LiverKickdotcom) LiverKick: Marcus vs. Schilling — If you know the history between these two guys you’ll understand why this fight was just bonkers. Schilling never got that win over Marcus and Marcus was everyone’s pick to move on to the finals and face Levin, with those two finally settling the score and we find out who the best in the world is between those two. The thing is, Joe wasn’t done yet. I’m a sucker for a good story and Joe’s knockout of Marcus was a fantastic story that I’m not sure could have been scripted better.
Andreas Georgiou (@AGeorgiouMMA) MMA PLUS: We’ve had so many good fights this year it’s hard to pin point which one got me most jolly. Andy Ristie vs Davit Kiria, the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen in my life. Bazooka Joe vs Marc de Bonte, a surreal fight, but I have to go with Joe Schilling vs Simon Marcus at LMS. These two kicked the living daylights out of each other, and by the time it went to the extension round I wondered if either of them could make it off the stool. Two absolute warriors, one hell of a war.
John Joe O’Regan (@Johnjoeoregan) Bloody Elbow: Tough question. The frontrunners are Andy Ristie vs. Davit Kiria, which is an absolute dead cert for Comeback of the Millenium/Ever, and Joe Schilling vs. Simon Marcus. In the former, Kiria took a horrendous beating before coming back in the final round to KO Ristie and win the world title. In the latter, Schilling – who had lost to Marcus twice before – had a full-throttle brutal war with his rival before finding the KO blow in the final round. In straight ‘Fight of the Year’ terms, if we’re looking for that kind of Rocky-style back and forth, I’d have to say Schilling vs. Marcus. Watching that live was amazing.
US Fighter of the Year
JJ: It has to be Joe Schilling. He made it to the final of the GLORY 17 tournament despite going through a crazy war with Simon Marcus in his first fight of the evening. By the time he met Levin in the final he was beat up and gassed, so he didn’t really have a chance, but Schilling has really shown people that US kickboxers can do the business at this level.
Michael: Has to be Schilling. The toughness and valor displayed in the Last Man Standing tournament, albeit in a losing effort, was truly special and showed once again that Americans can hang with the best in the world.
Dave: Schilling — This is kind of by default, though. US fighters haven’t had that great of showings in kickboxing. I’m not taking anything away from Joe here because he went into Last Man Standing knowing that he had a lot to prove and, at least in my opinion, he proved all of it. It’d be a shame if he didn’t step foot in a GLORY ring again soon. A true shame.
Andreas: If you asked me this a month ago I would have been torn between Joe Schilling and Wayne Barrett, but after GLORY 18 I have to go with Schilling. I don’t know if we can count his KO over Melvin Manhoef in Bellator, but he’s had one hell of a year. As mentioned above, a fight of the year with a badass Simon Marcus, a tough rematch against Barrett which really served him minimal chance against Artem Levin in the LMS final. I hope he sticks with kickboxing in 2015 as he is a huge talent and brings it every time.
UK Fighter of the Year
Andreas: This is a tough one, especially looking into both kickboxing and muay thai. Micky Terrill and Jamie Bates have had a good year in Superkombat, over in thai Sam Jackson, Daniel McGowan, Liam Harrison and Jordan Watson have shown some stellar performances this year, but it has to go to Paul “Semtex” Daley. He’s had an awesome 2014, went 6-0 against legitimate competition with five wins via KO, and a successful K-1 debut in October.
JJ: If we’re talking high-profile names then it would have to be Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley. He has had a busy 2014 in kickboxing, taking six bouts as well as a single MMA outing. Early in the year he starched Alexander Stetcurenko with a trademark left hook and he went undefeated in the rest of his run, 6-0 for 2014.
If we’re sort of blurring the lines between Muay Thai and Kickboxing, as the two are close cousins and many fighters in the UK compete under both rulesets, I think you’d have to look at Greg Wooton. He finished the year with a 1-2 record, which doesn’t immediately scream ‘Fighter of the Year’, but take a look at who he fought.
One of the decision losses was to Pakorn, currently a Lumpini Stadium champion, and the win was over Petchboonchu, the current ‘Fighter of the Year’ in Thailand. That win alone puts him right out in front, though it is oddly unbalanced by the fact that the other loss was a first-round stoppage. We’ll have to wait and see what 2015 holds for him and whether the results are consistent.
Dave: Daley — God, it sucks to ape John’s answers like this but it’s true. Paul Daley returned to kickboxing in 2014 and he did so with his crushing left hand and annihilated everyone in his path. If this guy gets his personal life together he could really go places in the world.
Fraser: My answer was already stolen, but I’m absolutely going with Josh Jauncey. I was really impressed by him at Glory 16, and then he looked even better at Glory 18. He reminds me a lot of Rico Verhoeven in a way – a young fighter who has grown up with this sport and is a real student of the game. He’s a classically skilled fighter with a world of potential ahead of him. He’s in the shark tank division of 70kg, but if he keeps it up, he’ll be a world champion one day.
Dave: Enriko Kehl — I think that it’s fair to say that Enriko Kehl is still in this category. He’s faced some good competition, but his steps up in competition were usually met with setbacks earlier on. What better way to demonstrate that than his 2013 fight against Buakaw? Buakaw toyed with him and made him look flat out bad.
We could all probably debate and share theories over what the hell happened in the 2014 meeting between Buakaw and Kehl, but I think that he showed marked improvement against Buakaw and that he’s on the right path to becoming a major player at 70kg, which is one of the few money weights in kickboxing.
JJ: For me it’s Josh Jauncey. He is just 21 years old but has been training at an elite level from his teenage years and has now transitioned to the big stage fluidly.
He had a bit of a wobble when Warren Stevelmans knocked him down in his GLORY debut but he came back from that to put a beating on him. Then he stopped the more experienced Jae Gil Noh on the GLORY 18 Superfight Series card in a very polished performance.
He’s young, skilled, intelligent, athletic… he’s got a great personality and tons of character but he is also absolutely ruthless in the ring. I think he can go all the way, in both kickboxing terms and marketing terms. He is frighteningly good for his age. Future champ or future star or both.
Zack Mwekassa also needs keeping an eye on. He has got scary power and he’s really hungry. His age somewhat counts against him but he’s really switched on to kickboxing since he stopped Pat Barry and I think 2015 is going to be interesting for him.
Michael: Artem Vahkitov. The 23-year-old Russian has only fought once in GLORY in 2014, a win against Igor Jurkovic, but I feel strongly he will be a strong presence in the GLORY 205 division in 2015. Vahkitov was originally supposed to be part of the GLORY 18 light heavyweight tournament, but was replaced by Danyo Ilunga. He is 13-4 overall, trains with the GLORY middleweight champion Artem Levin and does have a championship in Russia, but still has to test himself against the best of the best and I think he will fare quite well once he does.
Andreas: Argh, too many talented guys to talk about, but I’m going to pick the UK’s Reece Mcallister who has reached the final four in the TOPKING World Series. “The Tough” Mcallister is coming off a first round TKO win against Polish Marcin Parcheta at TK3 Hong Kong, and really showed his discipline in that fight, something he has lacked in previous years. Khayal Dzhaniev, Marat Grigorian and Buakaw make up the final four, so there’s no doubt he has a tough test ahead of him, but the maturity he has shown this year should serve him well for a career’s best 2015.
Thank you for everyone who has read this year’s Kickboxing Global Awards and we hope you join us the same time next year, where no doubt there will be a plethora of new stars for our panel to discuss.