August 3, 2006; New York, NY….Two-time World Boxing Council (WBC) Continental Americas Heavyweight Champion, Jeremy “Half Man, Half Amazing” Williams (41-5-1 (35 KO’s) will make his martial arts fighting debut in the K-1 “Battle At Bellagio” tournament at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Bellagio on Saturday, August 12th. Williams, who recently took on the role of assistant trainer for ESPN’s hit boxing reality series, The Contender, will square off with three-time K-1 tournament champion, Michael “The Black Sniper” McDonald (49-13 (23 KO’s), during the quarterfinal round of the eight-man, single-elimination event.
“Since I was 6 years old, I’ve been doing martial arts,” said the 6 foot 2 inch, 220 pound Williams, who initially learned to box. At 13 years of age, he began studying Shaolin Kung Fu and, approximately two and a half years ago, took up Muay Thai. “The boxing world is all convoluted with (politics) so I gradually started opening my eyes to mixed martial arts and kickboxing. K-1 is the largest organization in the world on the highest level so it makes sense for me to start here because, if I can’t make it here, then I won’t be able to make it anywhere.”
To prepare for his leap to the pinnacle of martial arts fighting, Williams has taken on three-time Las Vegas K-1 tournament competitor and Japanese Karate champion, Yusuke Fujimoto, as a sparring partner and has done likewise with a handful of capable martial arts fighters at The Bomb Squad, the North Hollywood, California gym that Williams calls his training home. “Everybody’s so used to seeing my hands that they forget I can kick. I’m not the best kicker, but I can kick. And my hands are better than the best guy in K-1.”
In addition to his victory of two heavyweight crowns, the 33-year-old Williams’ lengthy career has also been highlighted by an induction into the Golden Gloves Hall of Fame. On March 19, 1996, he broke the all-time record for the fastest knockout in a boxing fight held in California when he stopped Arthur “Stormy” Weathers in 10 seconds.
After emerging victorious in his first nine career starts, Williams squared off with another unbeaten prospect in 1992 Olympic medalist, Danell Nicholson, on May 8, 1993. Arguably his most impressive performance to date, Williams punished his 10-0 opponent in the early going of their fight staged in Stateline, Nevada before knocking out Nicholson late in the second round.
On April 15, 2004, Williams, who took a near two-year hiatus from the sport of boxing between May 2000 and March 2002, faced the World Boxing Organization (WBO) number nine contender, Atila “The Hun” Levin, in a Showtime-televised contest at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The more experienced Williams controlled the tempo of the fight and, after opening cuts around both of Levin’s eyes, secured a win by way of technical knockout in the eighth round.
Since being selected to help coach one of two opposing teams on The Contender, which premiered in April, Williams has gained critical acclaim for his ability to train others as his squad continues to enjoy success against their rivals. “The show has done phenomenal things for me,” he acknowledged. “I’d love to take whatever acclaim I get from it to Japan and make a big name for myself in K-1.”
McDonald’s appearance in the “Battle At Bellagio” affair will mark the Canadian’s first of the year in Las Vegas. To date, the 5 foot 11 inch, 210 pound Muay Thai stylist has been the single-most dominant force in K-1 competition in North America, winning back to back tournaments in the spring and summer of 2002 and recapturing his throne in April 2004.
The “Battle At Bellagio” tournament will also be headlined by the likes of two-time K-1 tournament champion, Alexey “The Red Scorpion” Ignashov, and 2003 K-1 USA tournament victor, Carter Williams.
In “Battle At Bellagio” Superfight action, longtime K-1 superstar Ray Sefo will meet five-time world kickboxing champion, Azem Maksutaj. The victor of last August’s “Mayhem At Mirage” K-1 tournament, Ruslan Karaev, will take on two-time world kickboxing champion and undefeated professional boxer, Dewey “The Black Kobra” Cooper and world Muay Thai champion and K-1 Max veteran, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, will battle three-time kickboxing champion, Fernando “Cool” Calleros
Tickets for K-1 “Battle At Bellagio” are available for purchase both online at K-1 North America’s official website, www.k-1usa.net, as well as at the Bellagio box office (888-488-7111). Tickets are priced at $300, $200, $100 and $50.
The Grand Ballroom at Bellagio will open for the event at 5 PM. The first preliminary bout will begin at 5:30 PM and the tournament will commence at approximately 7 PM.
K-1 is a martial arts fighting sport that derives its name from its inclusion of a wide array of combat disciplines, including Karate, Kung-Fu, and Kickboxing (“K”), and its intent to determine one champion in one ring (“1”). After being staged for the first time in Japan in 1993 under the direction of founder Master Kazuyoshi Ishii, it later evolved into the country’s most popular sport and achieved popular culture status there as its athletes turned into larger-than-life celebrities.