Now that 2020 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 week, 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.
Breakout Fighter of the Year
There are a number of fighters who had breakouts in 2020, whether it was through a single performance that pushed them to the forefront of the kickboxing world or a run of victories that brought them to the next level in their respective divisions.
Kazuki Osaki conquered a new promotion with four victories, including two against top-10 opponents, en route to capturing the RISE 53-kilogram title. Tatsuya Tsubakihara broke out on the big stage by topping 2019 Combat Press “Breakout Fighter of the Year” and K-1 champion Yuuki Egawa in only his second fight in his new weight class. Taio Asahisa had a similar win in the sport’s biggest event of the year, K’Festa.3, when he took down reigning K-1 62.5-kg titleholder Kenta Hayashi. Asahisa capped off his spectacular 2020 with back-to-back highlight-reel knockouts and now sits atop the Combat Press super-bantamweight rankings. Hinata Terayama put forth one of the best 2020 campaigns, with five victories and an eight-woman tournament title to become one of the hottest commodities in women’s kickboxing.
Meanwhile, one man broke through after years as one of the best uncrowned fighters in K-1. That man is Gonnapar Weerasakreck.
The Krush 63-kilogram champion finally reached gold in the world’s top promotion when he topped former top super bantamweight Kenta Hayashi at K-1 World GP 2020 Winter’s Crucial Bout. The 28-year-old had fallen short in two previous K-1 championship tournament bids and in his first opportunity to capture a K-1 belt against Wei Rui.
The Thai fighter kicked off the year by defending his Krush title against Takumi Yokoyama at Krush.110. Gonnapar avenged his only loss in his past 11 fights when he defended his belt for the third time against top-10 foe Yuto Shinohara at Krush.113. The talented champion capped off his year by capturing the K-1 crown.
Gonnapar’s amazing run makes him the 2020 Combat Press Kickboxing “Breakout Fighter of the Year”.
Other Finalists: Kazuki Osaki, Tatsuya Tsubakihara, Taio Asahisa, Hinata Terayama
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