K-1 GRAND PRIX
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kaneohe's Mike "Rocky" Malone will take on 7-foot-2 Hong-Man Choi tonight in a superfight as part of the K-1 World Grand Prix event at the Blaisdell Arena.
Malone faces tall task in K-1 Grand Prix
Kaneohe's Mike "Rocky" Malone is a kickboxer first and a mixed martial artist second, which makes K-1 the perfect fit for his fighting style.
K-1 World Grand Prix Hawaii
Where: Blaisdell Arena
Time: 6 p.m.
The only problem is, what do you do if you're fighting an opponent you won't be able to kick in the head?
Malone, who's barely 6-feet tall, will need to figure out an answer to that question tonight if he wants to defeat 7-foot-2 giant Hong-Man Choi of Korea in one of 14 fights scheduled for the K-1 World Grand Prix card beginning at 6 p.m. at Blaisdell Arena.
In the main event, Morocco's Badr Hari will challenge Japan's Yusuke Fujimoto for the new K-1 heavyweight title. The event will also feature K-1's signature eight-man single-elimination Grand Prix tournament.
Gary Goodridge, who won the Hawaii Grand Prix in 2005, headlines the field that also includes American Mighty Mo and 6--11, 330-pound Jan Nortje of South Africa.
Malone made his only appearance in a K-1 ring on four days' notice when he defeated Dustin Hanning by decision. It was the only other time K-1 came to Hawaii in July 2005.
However, this fight will be against one of the organization's biggest stars, literally, in Choi, who tips the scales at 360 pounds. The 2005 Grand Prix Seoul champion made Chad "Akebono" Rowan his personal punching bag when they fought at Aloha Stadium, and has only been knocked out once in 13 professional fights.
"It's like 'Eddie would go' in surfing," Malone said of the late Eddie Aikau's attitude toward big waves. "It's like a 30-foot wave you can't practice on, you just go out and surf it. I can't train for a guy that big because there's nobody like that in Hawaii, so I'm just going to go out and fight."
In order to simulate fighting against a guy Choi's size, Malone attached a boxing glove to the end of a pole and had the tallest training partner he could find in Kaneohe poke it at him from as high as he could reach.
"It's all we could come up with," Malone said. "I'm just going to try to chop him down with leg kicks and then eventually hope to catch him like the last guy did."
Choi was knocked out for the first time in his career in his last fight by an overhand right from Siala-Mou "Mighty Mo" Siliga, one of the eight participants in the tournament. The winner will have to win three fights in order to advance to the K-1 World Grand Prix Final at the end of the year.
This is Mo's first appearance in Hawaii as he will square off with South Korea's Kyoung Suk Kim in the opening round. On the opposite side of the bracket is Goodridge, who is looking for an encore performance of the 2005 Hawaii tournament win in which he knocked out Wesley "Cabbage" Correira and Carter Williams on his way to the title.
"I'm a pretty easy guy to figure out, it's all the same," Goodridge said. "They brought some good fighters out here to beat me this time, so I'm going to have to knock some people out."
Tickets for the event start at $40 and are still available at the Blaisdell box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.