April 16, 2006; New York, NY….They’ve met twice before. On both occasions, the circumstances and the stakes were far different. On Saturday, April 29th, kickboxing legends Fernando “Cool” Calleros (31-8-2 (16 KO’s) and Danny “Hard As” Steele (70-12 (45 KO’s) will face each other once more with the opportunity to break into K-1’s 155 lb. limit, “Max” division on the line.
“I’m expecting a knockout against Danny,” said the self-assured, 31-year-old Calleros, the victor of both previous matchups with Steele. In 1993, the two fighters, both at the start of their professional careers, met for the first time and Calleros walked away with a close, split decision. Their 1999 rematch produced an identical result. “Danny Steele throws leg kicks and comes in with his head forward. I plan just to counter the leg kicks with my punch combinations.”
Both Calleros and Steele had officially announced their retirements last year, but had second thoughts after the opportunity to become a part of the flourishing K-1 Max circuit arose.
For Calleros, however, the April 29th appearance holds a lot more meaning than future paydays. It is another chance to preserve the memory of his recently deceased mentor, Grandmaster Bill Packer, who lost a long and hard-fought battle with cancer on August 19th of last year at the age of 59.
In November, Calleros set out on his crusade to represent Packer in the squared circle and scored an impressive second round knockout on Victor Cuellar by flooring Cuellar for the 10 count with a jump spinning back kick.
On January 20th, Calleros was again successful as he took a five round unanimous decision from Danny Griffen in Crystal Lake, Illinois. “I think the main thing that’s changed for me over the years is that my power has increased tremendously,” noted Calleros.
Calleros and Steele bring with them to the ring, not only a history of greatness, but also some of the most memorable moments in professional kickboxing. A seven time world champion, Steele has faced some of the biggest names in the sport including Thailand’s Matee Jedeepitak and Coban Lookchaomaesaitong. His second round stoppage of Canada’s Dave Horvath on July 12, 1997, earned Steele the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) World Light Welterweight Muay Thai Championship.
The 37-year-old Steele’s three epic battles with Melchor Menor, which took place over the course of five years, are collectively recognized as one of the sport’s most competitive rivalries of all-time.
An extremely versatile athlete, Calleros is one of the few martial arts fighting superstars who have faced world-class opponents in nearly all forms of kickboxing ranging from full-contact to Muay Thai rules combat. On June 26, 2000, he seized the IKF World Super Welterweight International Kickboxing Rules Championship by earning a unanimous judges’ decision over Miguel Reyes in Sacramento, California.
The K-1 “Mayhem At Mirage II” card will also be highlighted by a Superfight showdown between 2005’s two Las Vegas K-1 tournament winners, Glaube Feitosa (63-15-1 (59 KO’s) and Ruslan Karaev (159-8 (125 KOs) and the Las Vegas debut of reigning K-1 World Grand Prix champion, Semmy Schilt (36-15-2 (17 KO’s), who will lock horns with four-time K-1 Japan Grand Prix tournament victor, Musashi (43-21-5 (1 No Contest) (12 KO’s).
During the event’s eight man, single-elimination tournament, Germany’s Stefan Leko (24-12 (14 KO’s) will face American Dewey “The Black Kobra” Cooper (42-8-2 (26 KO’s) in the tournament’s quarterfinal round. The opening round of the tournament affair will also feature a grudge rematch between 2003 K-1 USA tournament champion, Carter Williams (37-12 (24 KO’s), and Japan’s Yusuke Fujimoto (18-10 (9 KO’s) as well as the return of knockout artist “Big Daddy” Gary Goodridge (43-24 (31 KO’s) and Chalid “Die Faust” Arrab (12-4 (1 KO).
Tickets for “Mayhem At Mirage II” are on sale and can be purchased at the Mirage Hotel and Casino box office (800-963-9634). Tickets are priced at $50, $100, $200, and $300, respectively.
The Mirage Grand Ballroom doors will open for the event at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on April 29th. The card’s preliminary bouts will begin at 5:30 PM and the tournament will commence at approximately 7 PM.
Tickets for “Mayhem At Mirage II” are officially on sale and can be purchased both online on K-1 USA’s official website, www.k-1usa.net, or at the Mirage Hotel and Casino box office (800-963-9634). Tickets are priced at $50, $100, $200, and $300, respectively.
The Mirage Grand Ballroom doors will open for the event at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on April 29th. 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.