Now that 2017 is in the books, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best that the sport of kickboxing had to offer. Over the next few weeks, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the ring to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
One of the realities of combat sports is that even the very best fighters can be defeated. The circumstances and fallout of those defeats varies from one fight to the next. In 2017, there were some big names and heavy favorites who found themselves on the wrong end of bouts. One of the sport’s top featherweights, Masaaki Noiri, was thoroughly dominated by Abdellah Ezbiri at Nuit des Champions 2017. GLORY tournament favorite Fabio Pinca was brutally knocked out by Anvar Boynazarov after easily winning the early portions of the fight. Yet, the year’s biggest upset came under a completely different scenario: an eight-man tournament.
At Enfusion Live 59 in Abu Dhabi, eight fighters squared off for supremacy in a one-night, 72-kilogram tournament. Among the participants were No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter Superbon Banchamek, fellow top-10 lightweight Mohamed Khamal, Morocco’s Nordin Ben Moh and a 22-year-old Curaçao native named Endy Semeleer. All four took care of business in the quarterfinals, with Semeleer earning the lone knockout victory. In the semifinals, Superbon needed an extension round to get past Ben Moh, while Semeleer upset Khamal after three rounds. Surprisingly, that would not be the night’s most unexpected result.
In the tournament final, Semeleer capitalized on the visibly tired Superbon. Although the kicking arsenal of the Thai fighter was still on display, the impact of the techniques was not as effective as it was earlier in the tournament. This allowed Semeleer to come forward with volume and land with regularity. When the scorecards were read, there was little doubt that Semeleer had capped off a brilliant year by taking out one of the sport’s best fighters and in the process wrapped up the award for 2017’s “Upset of the Year.”
Other finalists: Abdellah Ezbiri vs. Masaaki Noiri (Nuit des Champions 2017), Laëtitia Madjene vs. Wang Kehan (Kunlun Fight 61), Anvar Boynazarov vs. Fabio Pinca (GLORY 47), Ren Hiramoto vs. Gonnapar Weerasakreck (K-1 World GP Lightweight Tournament), Kohei Nishikawa vs. Minoru Kimura (Krush.74), and Elvis Gashi vs. Josh Jauncey (GLORY 43)
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2017 Kickboxing Award winners.