Height: 6’2” Weight: 214 lbs.
Date of Birth: 5/19/83 (22 years old)
Professional Fighting Record: 159-8 (125 KO’s)
2003 Amateur World Kickboxing Champion
2003 Amateur European Kickboxing Champion
K-1 world champion (2005)
While his experience in the squared circle is abundant, his lack of visibility in the world of K-1 to date makes Ruslan Karaev the single biggest enigma of the “Mayhem At The Mirage” tournament draw. Being a virtual mystery to his competition, however, may prove to be to the advantage of the 22 year old kickboxer.
Karaev is an exception in more ways than one. The vast majority of his fellow Russian combatants, some of whom have faired exceptionally well in “The New Fighting Sport,” have typically found their training within the borders of their homeland. After earning his first world championship under amateur status, though, a pumped up Karaev decided he would take an alternative route to success. He sought the expertise of martial arts masters in K-1’s birthplace.
”There were some other offers, but I chose to go to Japan to make my K-1 dream come true,” explain Karaev, who resides in the city of Tokyo and trains at the nearby Marupro kickboxing gym. “(The tournament in Las Vegas) is the most important tournament in my career. I want to become number one and win the K-1 Grand Prix. I am confident that I will be Ichiban (Japanese word for ‘number one’).”
Karaev’s victory of the World Amateur Kickboxing Organization (WAKO) world championship, which he claimed by way of second round knockout over an opponent in Paris, France two years ago, remains his single greatest win to date.
Karaev chainsaws the competition
Ringside report by Sean Wippert
Photos by Mary Ann Owen , BoxinginLasVegas.com
With a record of 159-8 with 125 KO's coming into tonight you would figure that Ruslan Karaev would be the odds on favorite to take out the field. That title was not his as he had 8-1 odds and Michael McDonald was 6-5. That was an afterthought to anyone who witnessed tonight’s events at the Mirage as he took the K-1 title instead.
So much was emphasized on the return on the Canadian Monster Michael McDonald to K-1, unfortunately it was a short lived stint. He took on Swiss Muay Thai Fighter Azem Maksutaj. The action was early between the two as Maksutaj immediately tried to take the fight to McDonald. The two exchanged well and both seemed to land good kicks on each other. This continued until Maksutaj swung a right kick that managed to connect like thunder. The range of the kick was off and Maksutaj's knee collided with the left temple of McDonald who turned and walked away as if he had taken the bad end of a head butt. The fight was oddly stopped as the referee seemed to think the same illegal hit theory. No point was deducted and the fight continued. Maksutaj showed no signs of slowing and dazed McDonald a few times en route to a big win and a trip to the semifinals.
Ruslan Karaev's first bout was a sign of things to come as took on and proceeded to dismantle Freddy Kamayo. He came out like a lunatic and mounted a lethal series of attacks that ended with and impressive reverse spinning kick. The fight ended at the 1:39 mark
Hiraku Hori was next to step into the ring and took on a much smaller and scrappier opponent from Germany named Chalid Arrab. Hori came out well and established a good range attack firing many kicks to keep Arrab at bay. Arrab would soon penetrate the long reach begin to unhinge the 6'6" giant. Hori seemed to have issues countering the smaller attacking fighter and was knocked down two times, the second time coming seconds after then 10 second round clap could be heard. Arrab advanced to the quarterfinals with a unanimous score of27-29.
The next fight was a lot like the Mighty "Mo" Siligia fight in that is was fast and furious. The Karate Specialist Tatsufumi Tomihira took on US Muay Thai artist Scott Lighty. The two exchanged kicks and punches pretty rapidly. The fight was violently ended when an explosive right kick connected flush with the head of Tomihira. The result was Tomihira taking a swan dive into the mat at the 1:23 mark of the first round. The fight was stopped and Lighty advanced in destructive fashion.
The first semifinal had the Russian machine Ruslan Karaev taking on Azem Maksutaj. Karaev came out much like he did in the Semi's, attacking with ferocity. Maksutaj though hung tough through the onslaught and actually began to fire back as the second round went. Karaev seemed to have found a speed bump but quickly drove over it, launching more intense attacks and eventually dropping Maksutaj late with a lunging right knee. The scores were 30-25, 30-26 and 30-24 all in favor of Karaev who moved to the finals.
The other semifinal pitted Scott Lighty against Chalid Arrab. This fight was the first of the night that did not see a knockdown. Lighty came in and attacked and a lot of the time as Arrab followed suit, backing up and countering. Each fighter did well to avoid catching a massive set of punches and kicks. Lighty's persistence showed through and he grinded out a win with the unanimous score of 29-28.
The stage was finally set for the big event and the crowd knew it. Chants of "Ruslan" were heard and responded with "USA" cheers. The atmosphere took on a whole knew feel. It was as though we had gone back 18 years, Ronald Regan was president and the cold war was still on. Both fighters entered the ring as if they were gods to their perspective fans. First into was the hard hitting American Scott who had pounded his way to the finals. The electrifying Ruslan Karaev in all his Russian glory and massive win total stepped into the ring next. When the bell sounded, it was back to business. Karaev came out again in his usual insane fashion of offense, a lot and intense. Lighty blocked a lot of it though and attacked Karaev's left leg. This was a rare chink in the Russian and seemed to slow him a bit. Light also drew blood early with good counter rights and lefts that found their mark on Karaev. The Russian seemed undaunted and came back on the offensive and threw a flurry of punches. The fight was a sight to behold as both seemed to unload on each other with everything they had. In the end though the Russian machine was just to much offense. He came out with a disturbingly close verdict of 29-28 (Unanimous) to take the title and win the K-1 World GP title in Las Vegas.
See the video clip representing Ruslan Karaev at
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