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Kickboxing's Best Kept Secrets Lie In Unexplored Weight Classes

  • Written by Rian Scalia

It's really been brought to my attention lately that a lot of people don't have a clue about about any weight classes in kickboxing besides 70kg and heavyweight, the two divisions that K-1 used for the most part throughout its history. The absence of other weight classes in K-1 for so long created somewhat of a sentiment to some people that those weight divisions didn't matter or that the fighters weren't any good or as good compared to 70kg or heavyweight. That couldn't be any more wrong.

The weight classes outside of 70kg and heavyweight have really been left in the dust for so many years. They've never really had a big stage to fight on like K-1. It's Showtime did utilize other weight classes but that platform still wasn't enough to get some recognition for all the world class kickboxers that unfortunately for their wallets, aren't a 70kg fighter or a heavyweight.

The heavyweight division tends to be looked at in such a prestigious light and cited as the place where the best kickboxers in the world are yet there is such a huge drop off after the top 5 even and then again after the top 10 and it's not too soon until you find out that it's mostly mediocrity. In other weight classes you won't see this to the same extent where everything after the top 15 or so is mostly mediocrity. That's not even mentioning that the overall skill levels of the fighters there isn't on the same level as for example, fighters at 60-63.5kg. It's obviously apparent when you actually watch the fights, comparing and analyzing them.

70kg is a strong a deep division, there's no denying that. People look at it as the most stacked weight class in kickboxing, and while it undeniably is, people really don't realize just how many good fighters there are below that weight. Generally it's that people just don't care to find out for themselves and stick with the notion that most popular equals the best. I could name over 30 guys (I'll elaborate on this in another post) around 61kg that are all good, skillful fighters by kickboxing standards, easily moreso than heavyweights. At heavyweight you can barely find 16 top guys all at or around the same level, enough to be competitive with each other, not even mentioning that the field of lightweight fighters is just going to be more skilled in general.

Alexey Ignashov, who at the time had wins over Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and Alexander Ustinov lost to Kaoklai Kaennorsing of all people, a 70kg Thai who was on his way out of the Rajadamnern scene in Thailand, long gone from the time when he won that stadium's title in its weakest weight class. I don't care how "inconsistent" Ignashov was, at the time he was on a six fight win streak that included beating Semmy Schilt and in the past two years only had losses to Peter Aerts and Stefan Leko, both top fighters at heavyweight at that time. Kaoklai also knocked out Mighty Mo who would then go on to beat Remy Bonjasky, right after that fight. Cyril Abidi could stop Peter Aerts twice but then go and lose to Rampage Jackson, twice. This, for the most part, happens at heavyweight and these are some of the best guys there losing these fights. At 70kg, almost all of the time, the top guys beat who they were supposed to beat, as in, MMA fighters, boxers and freakshows. Although these fights haven't happened as much in the lower weight classes, most of the times they have, the guy who's supposed to win has won. The only exception might be Wicky Akiyo vs. Tetsuya Yamato.

Heavyweight and 70kg were also developed for years by the old K-1, and to a much lesser degree they started from the ground up with 63kg. Just look at the talent they produced in such a short time with the Koshien series, and with exclusively Japanese fighters. Give any other weight class the development and platform that 70kg and heavyweight had and it would progress immensely. A world stage with enough money for guys to make a living would not only attract more fighters but also motivate current fighters at that/those particular weight classes even more. With Glory and K-1 now holding all the power and openly talking about more weight classes, it's possible.

I haven't even touched on other weights like 65-67kg, 77kg, 85kg, but you should get the point by now and I like 60-63.5kg a lot so I use it as my example when discussing this matter. After around 72.5kg the overall skill level and talent pool gradually diminishes as you go higher in weight until you get to heavyweight, with a few exceptions in between. 90-95kg arguably has better talent than 85kg. Weight classes in kickboxing are a mess though. Guys fight all over the place. You'll see guys fight at 79kg and then at 85kg like Artem Vakhitov, or at 85kg and then at around 91kg like Sahak Parparyan. There aren't established weight divisions aside from 70kg and heavyweight for the most part.

The bottom line is that most kickboxing fans don't even know about some of the sport's best fighters and some have misconceptions about who the better fighters in the sport really are.

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