The sensational 2019 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix showcased the quality of the division, but 2020 has sent it into overdrive.
In recent weeks, a plethora of superstars have joined its ranks, and it is now the strongest roster of strikers anywhere on the planet.
New acquisitions such as “The Killer Kid” Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, Tayfun “Turkish Turbine” Ozcan, Superbon, Davit Kiria, Jonay Risco, and John Wayne “The Gunslinger” Parr have added further depth, and the global fanbase is salivating at some of the prospective match-ups they could be watching in the months ahead.
They join the likes of ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Champion Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, Samy “AK47” Sana, “Smokin” Jo Nattawut, “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, and Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl.
Also, there is always the chance that some of the promotion’s stars from “the art of eight limbs” will cross over, like ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy did last year.
The ability to switch codes is not one-way traffic either, as Sittichai, Superbon, and Parr are all well-versed Muay Thai practitioners.
With so many potential opportunities for the kickboxing ranks in 2020, we take a closer look at the newcomers and why they should have your full attention when they debut on the global stage.
Buriram native Sittichai is a striking phenom who has captured some of the most illustrious titles in both Muay Thai and kickboxing.
Some of his highlights include a Lumpinee Stadium World Championship in Muay Thai and KLF World Max Tournament Championship in kickboxing.
Since 2015, “The Killer Kid” has focused on kickboxing, and he is one of the rare few who has been able to adapt his style perfectly, en route to wins over Marat Grigorian, Superbon, Kehl, and Kiria.
Fans have dreamed of a southpaw versus southpaw match-up between Sittichai and Petrosyan, which is a bout that could come to fruition in ONE Super Series this year.
Dutch-Turkish wrecking machine Ozcan has cemented his place as one of the top kickboxers on the planet with wins over the likes of Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer, Amansio Paraschiv, and Kiria.
His ferocious volume-punching style helped him to become a two-division Enfusion World Champion, as well as an Enfusion World MAX Tournament Champion.
The 28-year-old would present a fresh challenge to much of the featherweight kickboxing division’s top order.
Like his compatriot and longtime rival Sittichai, Superbon started his journey in “the art of eight limbs” — where he claimed a slew of titles, including four IFMA Muay Thai World Championships — before he shifted his focus mainly to kickboxing.
The Thai is a KLF World MAX Tournament Champion and IPCC Kickboxing World Champion, and he has bout-ending power in his punches, kicks, and knees.
Superbon has split victories with “The Killer Kid,” and he also has notable wins over Singdam Kiatmoo9 and Eakpracha Meenayothin.
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Georgia’s Kiria has pushed almost every top competitor in his weight class to the wire in recent years, and he used that experience to go on and pick up some major accolades.
The striking phenom is a KLF World Max Tournament Champion and KFWC Savate World Champion, and he has wins over elite opposition including Andy Ristie, Murthel Groenhart, and Kem Sitsongpeenong.
Kiria’s calling cards are his powerful punches and unorthodox kicks, which stem from his background in Ashihara karate.
Risco is one of Spain’s greatest combat sports athletes.
The 33-year-old striker is an Enfusion and WFCA Kickboxing World Champion who has consistently faced tough opposition around the globe.
He is also one of the rare few to have defeated the legendary Buakaw Banchamek. In addition to that, he has beaten Souwer, and he has split bouts with Ozcan for the Enfusion belt.
John Wayne Parr
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First session in the @onechampionship gloves hitting pads ????. The One gloves are a lot smaller and unforgiving compared to our CMT gloves. My CMT gloves are half padding, half gel where the One gloves feel Medieval and painful ????. Excited to hit someone with them, but exactly sure if I’m excited to be hit with them ????. Looking forward to when life is back to normal so we can get back to work punching faces ????.
Parr is one of the most revered non-Thai athletes in Muay Thai history, but the fearless Australian has never shied away from competing wherever he can find the toughest challenges.
“The Gunslinger” has won World Titles with the WKA, WKN, WKBF, and WMC, among others, in a career that spans more than two decades.
Parr has 99 career victories with notable wins over the likes of Yodsanklai, Mike Zambidis, and Daniel “The Rock” Dawson, and he wants to make it 100 on the global stage.
What Can We Look Forward To?
There has not been an amalgamation of strikers of this caliber in one promotion for decades – maybe ever.
Some have history and scores to settle, while others offer fresh challenges that fans are eager to see play out.
Petrosyan versus Sittichai could be the biggest match in kickboxing history, and a 2020 World Grand Prix would be the most stacked of its kind.
However it transpires, fans can look forward to any number of thrilling battles when the action resumes on the global stage.