SATURDAY, May 4th 2002, AT 11:00 AM, PT
Pictures & Undercard Results Added Monday, May 6th
Claims K-1 North America Crown!
Larger Photos By Gene Fields
For some reason, no one wants to let Mike McDonald (Left & Right) win a K-1 event in the scheduled 3 rounds... They want him to fight 4... At last nights Las Vegas Nevada, North American K-1 Championships, McDonald and Rick Roufus (Below left and right) made it to the final round for a rematch of their 1994 bout at Caesars Tahoe where Roufus won his IKF Full Contact Rules World Title when he knocked McDonald out "COLD!"
It was a rematch McDonald was looking forward to, especially with leg kicks this time... However according to sources, Roufus had slipped on the ring canvas in his second bout of the night and actually tore his ACL in the bout. Against McDonald he fought cautious due to the injury because he didn't want to risk hurting it anymore. In the end, he felt like he had done enough to win. However after 3 explosive rounds of action, the scores were Judge #1: 29.5 to 28.5 Roufus, Judge #2: 29.5 to 29 Roufus and Judge #3: 29.5 to 29 McDonald (Source Nevada Boxing Commission). Although it should have been a "Majority Decision Win" for Roufus, instead, it was a draw due to K-1 rules requiring you to win a tournament by 2 full points. Because of his injury, Roufus withdraw from the bout by choosing not to fight the extra 4th round, giving McDonald the win.
Unfortunately Roufus lost to the rules not McDonald.
Regardless, this gave McDonald his long awaited K-1 North America Victory. McDonald will now advance to the K-1 World Grand Prix Semifinal tournament at Las Vegas's Bellagio Resort and Casino on August 17th.
It was long overdue due for McDonald... A year actually since everyone watched his final battle last year with Maurice Smith. Nearly everyone at the event who saw it live thought he was the clear winner after 3 rounds. However, the half point system used by K-1 helped keep his opponent Maurice Smith around to tie it up at the end of 3 rounds.
In the 4th round, many of us thought McDonald won it as well, but a much talked about questionable decision favored Maurice Smith for the win and sent McDonald back to Canada disappointed in the judging, and he had every right to be... It was terrible!
Regardless, he has won his well deserved crown this year and will now advance to the August Tournament. In the other bouts of the night, here's how they came out;
TUESDAY, April 30th, 2002, AT 9:45 PM, PT
Is It McDonalds (Below) To Win... Or Lose..?
On Friday, May 3, 2002, K-1 Promoter Scott Coker (Left speaking) will host another version of the famous K-1 Tournament at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to determine who will advance to the next round of the million dollar K-1 championship series.
Despite losing 3 of his original selection of fighters (Maurice Smith, Duke Roufus, Thomasz Kucharzewski and karate fighter Basem Balbaki) Cooker is very excited about the final matches since the replacements are sure to add plenty of tournament action and in some cases, even more.
The biggest upset to the Tournament this year was the loss of former IKF World Champion Duke Roufus. Roufus had to drop from the event when he suffered an ankle injury during training last week. However the loss of Duke to the Tournament will be Coker's gain in the end.
Duke (Right) will now be replaced by his brother and current IKF World Champion Rick "The Jet" Roufus (Left) who will replace Duke in the tournament instead of fighting one of the nights Super Bouts. Rick, like Duke has won multiple World Titles in his career in several different organizations (Rick 6 different ones, Duke 3 different ones) and will be an exciting addition to the Tournament. He is also a former World Boxing Council (WBC) Continental Americas boxing champion.Duke had been named by the Mirage Casino as the second favorite to win the crown at this years May event and it will be interesting to see where Rick falls in the odds when the doors open Saturday night.
Many remember last years (May K-1 where McDonald was basically robbed out of the title by the ridiculous half point system. However, if not for the "Phantom Punch Knockdown" he scored thanks to referee Ray Balowitz (Clearly confirmed by the in-house instant replay where Roufus fell back from being off balance from a strike he threw a split second earlier, however referee Balowitz mad a bad call to give Roufus a standing 8 count which cost Roufus the round and possibly the bout as well.) he may have never made it to the final in the first place. Regardless, against Maurice Smith last year, the trophy was looking like it was made for the Young Gun, McDonald, but in the end, the half point system gave a gift to Smith.
Many say the trophy this year is McDonalds (Below Left) to win, or possibly lose as well... He's highly favored this time but the question is, "Do the odds makers really know his competition...?" Those in the know, know that his road to the trophy this year may actually be even tougher then last years road. This years tournament has much younger and stronger talent as well as some older talent that has some history with the favored McDonald... History he would rather forget...
If Rick Roufus and McDonald meet in the final, this is sure to be the fight everyone will want to see because of some history connecting the two. Several years back on January 22nd, 1994 at Caesars Tahoe Nevada, Rick fought and defeated a much smaller McDonald to win the IKF Full Contact Rules Light Heavyweight World Title. In that bout Rick weighed in at 179 to McDonalds 178. It was over quickly as Roufus knocked McDonald out "COLD" at only 43 seconds of the first round.
Roufus later retired the title to move up in weight and into leg kick rules where he later won the IKF International Rules Heavyweight World Title with a 9th round stoppage over Stan Longinidis (Above Right & Right) of Australia in Massachusetts on the infamous Mass Destruction PPV Event. It was Roufus' biggest win of his career but also his greatest disappointment since the promoters never paid him for his bout.
With the drop of Duke and the replacement of Rick, you would only expect the fair thing to do would be to put Rick into Duke's open spot in the tournament to face Dewey Cooper as scheduled. However, for some reason the tournament match-ups were reshuffled. Roufus instead will face former IKF Amateur North American and IKF Amateur USA Tournament Champion Kurt Hasley, (Left) of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
We last saw Hasley (240, 6'4") when he was making a name for himself at the K-1 Qualifier event in Milwaukee earlier this year. In round 1, Hasley met up with Michael Regnier (210, 6'3") of San Francisco, California USA and quickly overpowered him and exploded with several jab and right hand combinations that sent Regnier to the canvas at 2:17 of the first round.
In his second bout Hasley met Andre Walker which proved to be a match where experience over-ruled the muscle. In the bout the action was calm until round 2 where Hasley came out as if there was no tomorrow landing some great explosive hand combinations on Walker. When the bell rang, Walker must have been ringin as well because Hasley connected on several clean shots to his head. When the round was over, Walker's corner informed the referee that he was done giving Hasley the win.
In the final round he met DeNatale who will also be in Las Vegas. For the result of that bout, see below...
In McDonald's first round match-up though, he will have a much tougher time than many might think. He will face off against who we have selected as the dark horse of the tournament...Giuseppe DeNatale (Left) of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. On February 9th of this year, DeNatale brought the legend of Rocky to reality as he came back not once but twice from what looked like sure defeat. In his opening round of the Milwaukee K-1 Qualifier Tournament, DeNatale dropped opponent Mark Miller about a minute into the opening round with a head kick and later exploding with a left - right combination that put Miller down for good at 2:07.
In his round 2 bout, a 250 lb tree stood in the middle of his road to the final named Carter Williams, (Right, first alternate at this weekends K-1 - to be used in case someone drops out) who out-weighed him by 32 lbs (218 - 250) It was David Vs Goliath and as in the story told many times, DeNatale held on to win by a very questionable K-1, 2 knockdown rule call when DeNatale knocked Williams into the ropes and he slid down to a knee in round 2.
In the final, DeNatale met up with Kurt Hasley. After an exciting first round, DeNatale's second round combinations proved to be too much for Hasley as he couldn't keep his feet. David had beaten Goliath not once, but twice in one night as Referee Al Wichers stopped it at 2:15 of the second round!
It will be more than physical power that McDonald will meet up with in the first round in Vegas, it will be DeNatale's heart, which may surprise many and prove to be the strongest weapon in the ring against McDonald...
Instead of matching up with Roufus, Las Vegas own mega ticket seller Dewey "The Black Kobra" Cooper will have a much easier first round match-up against multi time World Champion Jean Claude Leuyer (Left). Our last view of Leuyer was in San Jose when he was getting "Spanked" by Paul LaLonde (Right) of Canada. LaLonde dominated the first 2 rounds pounding Leuyer with punches to the head. In the 2nd round LaLonde put Leuyer down twice with heavy punches and he was pretty much done for. However on the break, one of his cornermen slipped him some smelling salts (Illegal substance in fight that Wakes up anyone who is out of it as he was) and Leuyer went from down and out to wide awake in the corner. Leuyer came out as if he was as if he had not fought a round, attacking LaLonde's legs while staying away from LaLonde's punches. When the 4th round started, LaLonde could barely walk and Leuyer went to work on his legs again, putting him down twice in the round where the referee stopped it after the second knockdown.
What wasn't announced at ringside though was that after the bout, each of Leuyer's cornermen from Fairtex were fined $2,500 by the California State Athletic Commission. The bigger surprise though was that instead of giving Leuyer's World Title (Another organization, not IKF) to LaLonde as would be expected by everyone, the organization sanctioning the bout simply called the fight a no-contest. What an insult to LaLonde who was clearly deserving of the title. A reminder here that LeLonde had already defeated Leuyer by TKO in a previous K-1 event.
Looking back on other bouts Leuyer has had where he has been down and out in the first few rounds, one wonders, did the Salt help him back into those bouts as well? Cooper is not a knockout fighter so he may not have too much trouble with him in round 1, but we'll see what happens to him in round 2, where the Nevada Commission will now be looking for that famous Salt in the corner in every future bout he's in...
Some more history here... If DeNatale and Cooper meet up it will be a rematch of when the two fought a couple years back on the undercard of one of the Las Vegas K-1 events. In the bout, DeNatale made Cooper look pale and worn out. With great kicking skills, DeNatale was so far ahead at the end of the fifth round that no one had any doubt that he would win, which he did...
Rounding out the match-ups will be Jeff "Big Diesel" Ford (Left) making his K-1 USA debut when he faces big George Randolph (Right) of Glenville, West Virginia, USA. (18-2/14, 6'8", 267) Last time we saw Ford in action, he was toe to toe against Leuyer in San Jose, CA. In the end he was stopped by Leuyer's powerful leg kicks though. This is now a bout many are questioning though wondering "Was any salt in Lauyer's corner on that night as well since it was going the same as Leuyer's bout with LeLonde above...?"
Last time we heard of Big George, he was contending for the IKF Full Contact Rules Super Heavyweight World Title against then World Champion "Mean" Mike LaBree of Cable Wisconsin, USA on February 3rd, 2001 at the LCO Casino in Hayward, Wisconsin, USA. In the bout, Labree won by 3rd round TKO and announced his retirement from the ring after the bout.
On the very same night in the very same state of Wisconsin, Jeff Ford was going toe to toe with Jason Johnson (Right in picture with Ford at left) in Milwaukee. Like in the Randolph-LaBree bout, Johnson won by a third round TKO as well...Johnson has since retired from the ring and moved to Las Vegas to pursue an action career which he is doing very well in...
Tickets are now on sale at www.k-1usa.net
The winner of the event will meet semi finalists from seven different countries on August 17, 2002, at The Bellagio for the K-1 World Semi Finals and a chance to go onto the 2002 K-1 World Grand Prix at the Tokyo Dome.
We apologize to Mr. Dewey Cooper because we had no pictures of him nor could we find any of him on the web.
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