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.

Robbery of the Year – Masaaki Noiri vs. Kaew Weerasakreck (K-1 World GP)

Every combat sport has its issues with questionable judging and head-scratching decisions. Unfortunately, 2017 was no different for kickboxing.

Thailand’s Petpanomrung Kiatmookao undoubtedly left the ring at GLORY 41 wondering what exactly had happened after Robin van Roosmalen was declared the victor in their featherweight title match-up. In China, Germany’s Berat Aliu fell victim to the “Fang Bian curse” despite clearly winning two of the three rounds against the “undefeated” Chinese fighter at Wu Lin Feng 2017.


But it was a battle between two of the sport’s best featherweights that left the worst taste in the mouths of kickboxing fans in 2017. In June, at K-1 World GP 2017 Super Welterweight Championship Tournament, then-champion Kaew Weerasakreck put his super lightweight title on the line against Japan’s Masaaki Noiri. The pair had met previously in 2016 with Thailand’s Kaew walking away with a decision victory.

In the pair’s second meeting, Kaew largely controlled the action and landed with more volume. However, he was repeatedly warned by the referee for clinching. Despite his frustration at what transpired in the ring during the first three rounds, it appeared that Kaew would retain his title on the scorecards. But the judges inexplicably rewarded Noiri with an extension round. In the fourth and final frame, it once again looked like Kaew had done enough to win. However, the judges struck once again, giving Noiri the split-decision victory and the title.

The fight is a perfect example of how judging in kickboxing still has plenty of room to improve. Given that Kaew and Noiri split their two match-ups, Kaew remained the No. 1-ranked featherweight, while Noiri slipped to third after dropping a decision to Abdellah Ezbiri later in the year.

Other finalists: Petpanomrung Kiatmookao vs. Robin van Roosmalen (GLORY 41), Fang Bian vs. Berat Aliu (Wu Lin Feng 2017), Anton Kalinin vs. Dastan Sharsheev (Tatneft Cup 2017 2nd Selection)

Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2017 Kickboxing Award winners.