Karaev Meets Cooper In K-1 “Battle At Bellagio” Superfight

Karaev Meets Cooper In “Battle At Bellagio” Superfight

July 16, 2006; New York, NY….K-1’s hottest new superstar, Ruslan Karaev, will square off with two-time world kickboxing champion and undefeated professional boxer, Dewey “The Black Kobra” Cooper, in a Superfight during the star-studded “Battle At Bellagio” card at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Bellagio hotel and casino on Saturday, August 12th.

Flaunting explosive speed and knockout power, Russia’s Karaev fired up a near-capacity crowd at Las Vegas’ Mirage last April as he ran to three consecutive victories during the “Mayhem At Mirage” eight-man, single-elimination tournament. The 23 year old kickboxing stylist, who was billed a 17 to 1 underdog by odds makers prior to the event that marked his debut in North America, set the tone for a thrilling night of martial arts fighting when he made short work of quarterfinal round opponent Freddy Kemayo. Without warning, Karaev, standing toe to toe with the Frenchman, suddenly spun around and drilled Kemayo with a spinning back kick to the liver. The blow sent Kemayo down for the 10 count at the 1:39 mark of the opening round.

In the semifinal round, Karaev attempted to finish Switzerland’s Azem Maksutaj in similar fashion. What resulted instead was one of the greatest K-1 battles of all-time as Karaev unleashed an onslaught of punches, including a leaping straight right hand, in the first round of action before flooring Maksutaj in the opening seconds of the second round with the same kick that he had used to defeat Kemayo. Maksutaj beat the referee’s count, however, and, after taking more punishment, began to turn the tides on the forceful Karaev before the round ended.

During the third and final round of the semifinal bout, Karaev scored one more knockdown on Maksutaj with a straight knee strike to the midsection before advancing to the tournament’s championship round by way of unanimous judges’ decision.

The championship fight pitted Karaev against American Scott Lighty. Karaev, once again, fought at a furious pace before being awarded a third victory and the tournament crown by all three judges scoring the contest.

On April 29th of this year, Karaev returned to Sin City where he squared off with three-time K-1 tournament champion, Stefan Leko. Leko, who had previously never been defeated in Las Vegas K-1 competition, found himself engaged in a relentless firefight. Karaev downed Leko once in the second round with a straight right hand and once in the third round with an overhand right before earning another win via unanimous judges’ decision.

Cooper’s history with K-1 spans six years. Handicapped by his 205 pound frame that has frequently been thrown into battle with 230 plus pound opponents from K-1’s super heavyweight roster, the 31-year-old resident of Las Vegas has proven himself to be one of the sport’s mentally toughest competitors as he has never been stopped in a K-1 fight.

A versatile athlete with outstanding agility, Cooper made his finest stand to date in K-1 tournament competition on April 30, 2004 when he finished as runner up in the eight-man, single-elimination affair at the Bellagio. After defeating Japan’s Nobu Hayashi in the playoff’s quarterfinal round, Cooper overcame 265 pound knockout artist, “Mighty Mo” Siligia. In the championship showdown, Cooper was repeatedly beaten to the punch by two-time K-1 tournament champion, Michael McDonald, who was declared the victor of the event after three rounds.

While maintaining his status as one of the most active competitors in the martial arts fight mix, Cooper has built a second home for himself in the world of professional boxing. Trained by Jeff Mayweather, uncle of world champion “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Cooper has compiled a 14-0-2 record in the sport, with 9 of his wins having come by way of knockout.

In addition to the Superfight between Karaev and Cooper, “Battle At Bellagio” will be highlighted by an eight-man, single-elimination tournament as well as two additional Superfights. Two-time K-1 tournament champion, Alexey “The Scorpion” Ignashov and 2003 K-1 USA tournament victor, Carter Williams, are scheduled to compete in the tournament. The remainder of the August 12th lineup is expected to be finalized shortly.

Tickets for the K-1 “Battle At Bellagio” event are on sale at the Bellagio box office (888-488-7111) and 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.

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Michael Afromowitz