Press Release by Monty DiPietro, FEG
AMSTERDAM – The Netherlands established relations with Japan in 1609 and for some 250 years the Dutch remained the only Westerners welcome in the isolationist archipelago of shogun and samurai. In the 21st century Japan and the Netherlands once again stand together, at the forefront of the world’s premier fightsport. Fourteen fighters have won the K-1 World Grand Prix Tokyo Dome Final, and no less than eleven times the laurels have been placed on the head of a Dutchman.

The ’07 Europe GP comes to the Amsterdam Arena tonight, and yesterday participating fighters met the media at the Claus Event Center in Hoofddorp, just outside Amsterdam. The press conference was friendly and spirited – that is, until Bob Sapp took the stage.

Yes, the same Bob Sapp who went AWOL from his main event bout with Ernesto Hoost at last year’s Europe GP in Amsterdam.

“You know lost in translation?” said Sapp to the packed but suddenly deathly-quiet room. “Well, last year it was like everything disappeared completely. I’m sorry for the embarrassment to living legend Ernesto Hoost for failing to appear, and sorry to the fans. But, we fixed it up, [local promoter] Simon Rutz played peacemaker and here I am!”

Sapp will fight Peter Aerts, one of the Netherlands’ favorite sons. “I understand I may get a lot of boos when I step in,” joked Sapp, “but Peter will get boo-hoos because everyone will be crying after I knock him out because the Beast is back!” Again, the room remained uncomfortably silent, until Ernesto Hoost graciously stepped up to the stage to shake Sapp’s hand.

Aerts simply smiled. “Well, I am fighting a big strong guy so maybe I have to watch out, but I am gonna beat you Bob!” Now that would probably bring the noise.

Despite the drama involving Sapp’s return to Amsterdam, his bout with Aerts isn’t the Main Event. That honor goes to the Super Heavyweight Title Match between Semmy Schilt of Holland and Mighty Mo of the United States.

Mo was upbeat regarding his chances against K-1’s Defending Super Heavyweight and WGP Champion: “I beat big guys, and I have a big punch to go with Semmy’s big size!”

Schilt was characteristically reserved: “I am happy to be here and I will show you a great fight!” Informed that Mo had studied tapes of the March 4 fight where Schilt KO’d Ray Sefo to win the Super Heavyweight Belt, the Dutch behemoth did make a foray into humor. “I think it is good that Mo watched that fight, now he knows what will happen to him tomorrow!”

Other Superfights on the card include a matchup between a couple of dynamos, go-get-’em Ruslan Karaev of Russia and Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef; and Frenchman Nicolas Vermont’s mission to revenge his friend Jerome LeBanner’s loss this March against Junichi Sawayashiki of Japan.

Then there is the eight-man elimination tournament, which will advance a single fighter to this year’s K-1 WGP Final Elimination in South Korea.

Bjorn Bregy of Switzerland won the Europe GP last year, he will start drive to repeat against Brecht Wallis of Belgium. The winner there will meet the better man in a bout between a couple of KO fighters, Magomed Magomedov of Belarus and Maksym Neledva of the Ukraine.

In the second bracket it will be all-weather combatant Paul Slowinski of Australia vs tough guy Hiromi Amada of Japan; with Muay Thai fighters James Phillips of Germany and Zabit Samedov of Belarus battling in the last quarterfinal.

The tournament reserve will see Gokhan Saki of Turkey take on Mourad Bouzidi of Holland.

There will also be a special fight between Japanese wunderkind Hiroya, who is just 15, and Roy Tan of the Netherlands, who is 18 years old. This bout will comprise two-minute rounds and the fighters will wear protective headgear. Ample undercard action will bring the total number of fights to 18.