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FightBox Special Report: Buakaw vs. Kehl - What Really Happened?

By: Daniel Austin
October 16th, 2014

As reported on the FightBox Facebook page earlier, widely considered the world’s top pound for pound Muay Thai and kickboxing practitioner, Buakaw Banchamek faced Germany’s Enriko Kehl in the finals of the K-1 World Max 2014 Championship Tournament in Pattaya, Thailand this past Saturday. However, the outcome was one that no one expected.

The Fight

I personally watched the match the day after the event took place on Youtube and had already read the outcome of the fight, so I knew before I watched it that Kehl had won. What I was interested in finding out was how. As the match progressed through the three rounds, I kept waiting for the defining moment in which Enriko would suddenly take control of the fight, begin to dominate or knockout the famous Thai. It never came. I was in shock as to how it was possible that “The Hurricane” could have won this fight without actually winning the fight. The way I saw it, Buakaw had definitively won each round.

Having said that, I think I really need to tip my hat here to Enriko Kehl. I think he fought with the heart of a champion and did quite well for himself, but he simply wasn’t on the same level as Buakaw. That’s not a knock at Kehl, let’s face it, few fighters are. He landed a few good knees and uppercuts in the opening minute of the fight and fired up towards the end of the third round with good combination punches, but for 80 - 90% of the fight Buakaw was in control with expert timing, all kinds of brutal strikes and complete physical domination, especially with his throws. It seemed that Kehl spent as much time on the canvas as he did on his feet, getting taken down five times alone in the second round. However, under K-1 rules the throws will not garner any points.

Post Match

Just after the final bell rang, the two fighters quickly embraced. After that is when the mystery began. The TV then went to replays of the third round and when they cut back to live action, the 32 year old Thai and his team had completely disappeared from sight. According to K-1 officials, they immediately left the arena, got into a car and drove off.

This left Kehl and the German team dazed and confused in the ring as the judges continued to tabulate their scores and the ring announcer surprisingly read that the decision was as draw. In this case under K-1 rules a fourth round should be necessary to decide the winner, but with Benchamek’s team nowhere in sight, the decision was made that he had forfeited the bout and Kehl was given the win and the belt.

Kehl had no scruples about taking the forfeit victory saying “My dream has come true” and “I hope I have new fans in Thailand”. He also became very emotional as the decision was read out and celebrated greatly with his team.

Why Did He Walk?

At this moment it is still unclear why the top Thai fighter would simply not show up for the fourth round of a fight of this importance. With most of the relevant information exclusively in the Thai language it can be hard to get straight to the facts. However, one can be sure that it was not due to injury or cowardice.

At the moment there are several theories that foul play was somehow involved. The Benchamek camp states that a rule was changed shortly before the fight that would limit his offense. Another theory is that there was illegal gambling going on before the event involving the K-1 organization. K-1 has already admitted to the gambling scheme on its official English language version Facebook page

Fan: “It's a fact that you endorsed an online betting site on your web page (anyone betting on Buakaw to win would lose if fight was declared a draw after three rounds) hmmmm wonder if the judges had a bet on the fight?”
K-1 Global OfficialENGThe betting was turned off. Any one could see that. It's a fact. Buakaw has only made non factual clams.”

Another fan: “No betting? Really?”
K-1 Global OfficialENGNo there was none. It was turned off. 3 days before.”

By these admissions one can gather that, in fact, K-1 was endorsing some form of betting shortly before the event. It has also been reported that Banchamek himself went to the Thai authorities to state his concerns about K-1’s betting a few days before the finals. K-1 released an official statement on October 13th condemning the unprofessional actions of Banchamek, but failed to give a reason as to why he walked out of the fight. An investigation has been launched and will hopefully shed some more light on the subject in the near future.


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