This time it’s different (blog)
Riga, Latvia is gearing up for what could be the biggest fight of the year in “King of Kings“. KOK Kickboxing Welterweight Champion Zaur Dzhavadov will be defending his title against Constantin Rusu of Moldova in a much anticipated five round battle.
Fights like this are what true combat sports are all about. Sometimes it’s frustrating when a decision does not go your way or when an opponent gets injured. Other times all the pieces of the puzzle just seem to fall perfectly into place. Hard work is rewarded, game plans are executed and your results are recognized and appreciated by fans and promoters.
This fight is one we’ve seen before in KOK Kickboxing. It happened in February of 2017 in the very building where they will meet yet again, on October 27th. That fight was the finals of the 2017 Welterweight WGP tournament in Riga. It was a night that favored Dzhavadov who not only came out the victor by unanimous decision after three rounds, but who also became the number one contender for Sergei Morari’s welterweight title.
“The Latvian Ninja” was given his title opportunity eight months after winning the World Grand Prix. At the time, Morari was the top welterweight in “King of Kings” and one of the most active fighters in the history of the promotion. He was also a two-time WGP tournament winner himself. Dzhavadov was too much for him, though, knocking him out in the third round with a savage left hook and capturing the KOK Kickboxing Championship in the process in October of 2017.
However, Constantin Rusu is not accustomed to losing. Because of his success in the Riga WGP in 2017, he was re-entered into the following tournament in his home country of Moldova earlier this year in March. In that tournament he won his first round fight by decision and went on to defeat his countryman and another top KOK Kickboxing fighter, Dorel Cristian in a show-stealing fight that ended in a split decision victory for Rusu after an extra round. In the meantime, Rusu has also been collecting a number of big wins in Russia. He has now re-asserted himself as a top welterweight contender and gets his rematch with Zaur, this time with the title at stake.
What can we expect this time around between the two top “King of Kings” 77 kilogram fighters? Things are slightly different now than they were the first time they met. The first encounter was the finals of a tournament where both men had already been involved in a fight only several minutes beforehand. This time they will be rested and focused only on one opponent. It will also be a five round fight which means both fighters will have to be ready to go the extra six minutes. Of course, the added stipulation of the KOK Kickboxing Welterweight Championship being up for grabs also adds another layer of excitement.
As far as the kind of fight we can expect in the ring, obviously their styles have not changed. Rusu continues to do what he does best and that is utilize a lot of movement and very unpredictable offense. Zaur has also stuck to the style that has brought him so much success in recent years and that is a very straight forward, no-nonsense, offensively-minded style which incorporates big power punches. But seeing as how both fighters are familiar with each other, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a few surprises this time and a few tweaks in strategy.
KOK Kickboxing: One Night, One Ring, One Champion
After Dzhavadov’s last fight in Tallinn, Estonia I had a chance to ask him his thoughts on fighting Rusu again during an in-ring interview after his fight. During this interview Zaur told me that the last fight with Rusu was “a real war” and he’s ready to do it again in Riga.
I also reached out to Rusu for a comment before the fight. When I asked him what this fight means to him, he told me “This fight is important for me because I started my career as a professional fighter with a view to winning the 77 kg championship belt and it’s also important because it’s a return match with Zaur.”
Constantin has also been thinking carefully about fighting Zaur for the second time.
“It will be our second fight. In the first one I didn’t have as much experience and also it was the first four-man tournament for me and eventually I lost on points. Now I have grown a little and I have much more experience and more motivation to win. Now the fight will be according to my rules. I’m not thinking about winning this fight on points, because there are few chances to win like that. I’ll win by KO. Otherwise, I will not get the victory.”
He also had this message for Zaur:
“I can wish success to Zaur, but the winner that evening will be only one! It’s okay to be second place, second place after me! Anyway I will be the winner!”
No one knows better what this fight means than KOK President Donatas Simanaitis who said:
“This fight is very important, because it is a KOK title fight in one of the most popular weight divisions. I am sure that the whole world is waiting for it. Zaur Dzavadovs will defend his title against a very talented fighter from Moldova – Constantin Rusu. Constantin won a four-man GP tournament and won the right to face Zaur Dzavadovs in this fight.”
“I think it will be one of the best fights of this year, because both opponents are worthy of holding the title. It’s impossible to foresee who will get the championship belt after this fight, because both fighters are very, very strong.”