by Michael Afromowitz
Four years ago, a feisty 22 year old striker named Duane Ludwig got his first crack at the big-time during a K-1 Superfight with then-International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) World Junior Middleweight Muay Thai Champion, Alex Gong. Expected by many to be outclassed by the more experienced technical wizard, Ludwig, instead, stole the show at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Mirage Hotel and Casino, as he successfully traded shots for five rounds with the defending champion before giving up a somewhat controversial, split decision.
Since that promising point in his career, Ludwig has come of age, assuming command of the ISKA throne since Gong’s tragic passing two years ago, and becoming a steadfast member of K-1′s 154-pound limit Max division. On Saturday, August 13th, the Denver, Colorado thoroughbred will return to the venue that hosted his for a K-1 “Mayhem At The Mirage” non-title Superfight with three-time French Muay Thai champion, Remy Bonnel.
The imminent threat posed by the 30-year-old Bonnel has once again put Ludwig in the spotlight by making the featured bout the talk of K-1′s latest Las Vegas card amongst fans of the sport’s smaller and speedier weight class. Bonnel’s superb record of 46 wins 33 of which he produced by way of knockout, and 7 losses tells only a fraction of his story as statistics usually do for any competitor. It’s his latest result, a convincing, unanimous decision over three-time world champion Trevor Smandych that Bonnel earned in Tampa, Florida on June 11th, which, perhaps, provides the most insight into the level of this game that he is playing at.
Next to his startling showing when he faced Gong, Ludwig’s defining bout, to date, came on January 10, 2004 when he faced Thailand native Malaipet Sitprapom for the ISKA championship that was left vacant after Gong had passed. Ludwig fought a toe-to-toe war with the Thai for five, three-minute rounds before earning a unanimous decision from the judges.
At press time, Ludwig was is in Tokyo, Japan where he is scheduled to square off with legendary world Muay Thai champion, Ramon Dekkers, in another K-1 Superfight on Wednesday, July 20th. After the bout, Ludwig is tentatively slated to travel to Thailand where he would continue his training camp for the meeting with Bonnel.