Recently, the weight range of -61kg to -63kg in kickboxing has started to catch on with fans. It's Showtime has had two title fights, crowning two different champions so far this year in the -61kg division. This upcoming Saturday, June 25 plays host to the K-1 World MAX 2011 -63kg Japan Tournament Final. K-1 introduced their -63kg weight class last year and it definitely didn't disappoint. Last year's -63kg Japan Tournament didn't get as much attention, mostly due to the delay, not being shown until a few weeks later. This year, you have the option to watch live on Youtube.
With K-1's absence this year, their -63kg Japan Tournament event has garnered more attention, as some fans are starving for K-1 action. Memories of last year's spectacular -63kg series in K-1 are also contributing to the hype. While it may not be the typical faces we see in K-1 like Badr Hari, Andy Souwer, Peter Aerts and the like, kickboxing fans are being exposed to more fighters, and all in all a somewhat "new" division that casuals haven't seen before. It's Showtime has showcased their -61kg division just this past Saturday with an amazing fight between then champ Karim Bennoui and present champ Javier Hernandez. It's Showtime still doesn't generate the same interest as K-1 yet, due to the brand name alone though. K-1's foray into the -63kg division is what will look to showcase this weight class to casuals and hardcores alike.
The division has massive potential. K-1 has started off their -63kg division using only Japanese fighters. Recently, K-1 posted open applications to -63kg fighters from around the world. With these open applications for worldwide -63kg fighters, you have to think that K-1 has further plans for the division, that go beyond just Japan Tournaments with only Japanese fighters. Already, with only Japanese participants we have a wide array of personalities from the brash Kizaemon Saiga to the no nonsense Tetsuya Yamato. K-1 adding fighters from around the globe in this division would not only diversify it but also attract more fans.
Little is known about the weight range between -61kg to -63kg to most. It's Showtime has had three champions in the weight class, them being Sergio Wielzen, Karim Bennoui and Javier Hernandez in order. Each fighter was relatively unheard of to the masses until they became champions in It's Showtime. The same can be said for K-1's -63kg fighters. Most of them also compete in Krush. Here's where a little problem arises for the time being. With K-1 using only Japanese fighters at the moment, and mostly the same ones, how can we compare them to the fighters in It's Showtime's -61kg division? How would we determine who the best is? K-1 and It's Showtime divisions here are apart by 2kg (Approx. 4.5lbs). Is that too big of a gap for these fighters to ever compete against each other? It'll be interesting to see the approach that K-1 takes with their "applications" for -63kg fighters around the world, especially if there ends up being an overlap between K-1 and It's Showtime. It's Showtime venturing into Japan and recruiting talent from the soon-to-be established It's Showtime Japan will only spice things up a bit.
In the end, what will emerge of this weight range in kickboxing is the question. Will K-1 build up their fighters in this division and successfuly incorporate talent from around the world, much like they do in the -70kg MAX or Heavyweight division? What's next for It's Showtime's -61kg division? This all remains to be seen.