There are high stakes involved in Sunday’s One Featherweight Kickboxing Grand Prix Final between living legend Giorgio Petrosyan and French upstart Samy Sana. The winner will not only receive international acclaim as the first-ever One Kickboxing Grand Prix Champion, he’ll also be richer. A lot richer.
The winner stands to receive one million dollars in prize money, making Sunday’s bout the biggest prize ever for a kickboxing tournament champion.
“AK 47” Sana has been the Cinderella story of the tournament. He was the underdog against Yodsanklai Fairtex, but more than held his own against the Muay Thai legend, knocking him down with a left hand late in round one and hurting him again in the third.
In the semifinals, Sany faced favored Russian Dzhabar Askerov. Sana knocked down Askerov in round one, and landed the better shots en route to a deserved decision victory.
If the Frenchman is able to pull off another upset against Petrosyan, Sana will have rightfully earned a place in kickboxing history for his incredible tournament run, not to mention become significantly richer.
While Sana’s emergence as a tournament finalist is a surprise, the same cannot be said for Petrosyan. Many picked the two-time K-1 World Max Champion as the eventual winner when the tournament field was announced.
With an amazing 101 wins in 104 fights and victories over many of the top 70 kg fighters of his era, the Armenian master has earned all the praise he’s received over the years. A win against Sana may add considerably to his pocketbook. His status as a legend is already cemented.
Petrosyan’s path to the final was more complicated than Sana’s. He lost a close decision to Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy in the May quarterfinals, only for the result to be controversially changed to a no contest because the “referee did not adequately control illegal clinching”, according to ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
In the rematch, Petrosyan won a unanimous decision over his Thai nemesis, before blasting out Jo Nattawut with a left hand in the semifinals.
Skill Versus Will
A French Muay Thai champion, Sana has underrated skills along with his proven toughness and power. Petrosyan has proven he’s a master-class technician time and again. Conventional wisdom holds Petrosyan will be too sharp for his French opponent, although Sana has shown he’s the type of fighter who can rise to the occasion.