Both men have already cemented their status in the history books, but they are not done yet. They are set to compete in the ONE Super Series Featherweight World Grand Prix, and have an eye on winning the biggest tournament in martial arts in 2019.
First, however, they will give fans a taste of the action to come in a match that could settle a score from their first meeting, which took place in the Netherlands, way back in 2008.
In that bout, it was “Souwer Power” who took a decision victory over ‘The Hero,” but each martial artist is a much different athlete to the man that entered the ring that night.
The first encounter was a gritty, closely-contested battle, and the judges needed an extension round to separate these warriors in a clash of Eastern and Western striking styles.
Yodsanklai, who was already a WMC Muay Thai World Champion, brought many weapons from his Muay Thai repertoire into battle – not least his famous left roundhouse kick, as he battered the body and arms of his adversary throughout the contest.
However, Souwer – a two-time K-1 World Max Champion at this stage of his career – would not be cowed by the powerful blows, and pushed back with the Dutch-style kickboxing he had mastered. He blocked much of what came his way, and countered with fast low kicks and boxing combinations.
As the bout wore on and Yodsanklai’s most prominent weapon was not having its usual effect, Souwer’s confidence and output grew.
The Thai was still relatively new to kickboxing rules at this time, and continued to club Souwer’s arms with his left shin, but this was not Muay Thai scoring, and he was not being rewarded to the same degree.
The bout was even after three rounds, and Souwer stepped on the gas in the extension period. He proved that volume can overcome power, as his combinations caught the judges’ eyes over “The Hero’s” offense, which was mostly single shots.
The judges recognized his efforts and gave “Souwer Power” what would be a signature victory after Yodsanklai shot to worldwide fame when he won The Contender Asia later that year.
Since then, “The Boxing Computer” has updated his software exponentially. He was already an accomplished World Champion, but his dedication to his craft meant he continued to evolve.
His hands are now much more potent. His power was never in doubt, but his shot selection and an emphasis on kicking – which scored well for him in Thailand, but not as much under kickboxing rules – meant his boxing took a backseat.
He had to adapt to different scoring criteria where punches were often favored, and he did. His left kick is still a fierce part of his arsenal, but he is more well-rounded and adaptable.
Souwer continued to have success in kickboxing rules contests, as well as shoot boxing, and his star grew, particularly in Japan, so the Tokyo fans will be pleased to see him return.
His evolution is not as marked as his old rival’s – as he was arguably approaching his peak all those years ago – but he has spent the time since continuing to compete under kickboxing rules, and in doing so, he has refined his game to its demands.
The Den Bosch native has a diverse array of abilities and will look to make use of the tools that worked for him the first time around.
He may still have the advantage in footwork, where he can try and dart in and out of range, and if he can hit and not be hit, he may have a winning formula. As some things change, others stay the same, and his key to victory will be replying to “The Hero’s” heavier shots with flurries.
Souwer and Yodsanklai were both world class in 2008. In 2019, they are more refined, more experienced, and reinvigorated as part of the ONE Championship roster.
Their second battle could well trump the first in front of the passionate Japanese fans on 31 March, and the world will be waiting to see it.