‘Mayhem At Mirage II’ Marks Leko’s Return To K-1 USA
March 28, 2006; New York, NY….German superstar Stefan “Blitz” Leko (24-12 (14 KO’s) will return to K-1 action in Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time in three years when he faces former K-1 USA tournament runner-up and undefeated professional boxer, Dewey “The Black Kobra” Cooper (42-8-2 (26 KO’s), during the opening round of the eight-man, single-elimination “Mayhem At Mirage II” tournament at Mirage Hotel and Casino on Saturday, April 29th.
At 31 years of age, Leko, a 6 foot 2 inch, 220 pound kickboxing stylist, finds himself at a fresh, new beginning with the organization that helped him kick-start his professional fighting career nine years ago. Following a loss he suffered at the hands of Sebastiaan van de Muysenberg in Japan on October 31, 2003, Leko abandoned the ranks of K-1 for other opportunities in the fight world and did not return until June 12th of last year when he was stopped by Badr Hari. The tournament in Las Vegas will be his first K-1 appearance of 2006.
Leko is a member of Team Golden Glory, the elite, Holland-based fight squad that is comprised of over 30 world-class pugilists, including reigning K-1 World Grand Prix champion, Semmy Schilt; Alistair Overeem; and Gilbert Yvel.
Sin City and the Mirage last played host to Leko on May 2, 2003 when he faced “The Great Kusatsu” of Japan during a Superfight contest on the annual, spring K-1 USA card. In the second round of the bout scheduled for five rounds, Leko smothered his tenacious opponent, scoring three knockdowns before being awarded a technical knockout victory.
It was at Las Vegas’s Bellagio on August 11, 2001 that the German fighter made his greatest stand to date. Pitted in K-1 single-elimination competition, Leko fought at a furious pace during the quarterfinal round of the eight-man playoff before scoring a thunderous right hand that stopped American Jeff “Duke” Roufus at the 2:34 mark of the bout’s second round.
The German’s hard kicks were too much for semifinal round opponent Sergei Ivanovich, whose corner threw in the towel after the second round came to a close. The win over Ivanovich set up a meeting between Leko and one of the sport’s most decorated icons in three-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion, Peter Aerts.
A heavy favorite to take first prize in the event, Aerts looked relatively slow as Leko repeatedly beat him to the punch before finally blasting the Dutchman with a crisp right hand that sent him plunging to the mat at the 2:05 mark of the third round. So theatrical was the knockout of Aerts that, towards the close of 2001, ESPN included the footage in its annual, year-end sports highlight video that showcases the most exciting moments in sports from the current year.
The “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). The names of the event’s remaining six tournament participants will be announced shortly as will additional Superfight matchups.
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.