The draw is a fact, and the speculations is going around as usual. We have a interesting line up and draw, two favorites are pointed out, a “dark horse” some good routine based fighters and a couple of up and coming highly interesting young fighters..! All Japan Open Champion, U22 European Champion, and European champion are to find in the line up!
Poland have a mixed team with four fighters. All four at top level and they have represented Poland in the European Championships various times.
Marek Odzeniak, Poland
Marek have been one of Poland’s top fighters for many years. Representing Poland in two World Championships (2011/15) Also being first choice in the middleweight category when he has representing Poland in several EC. At the international stage he have been on the podium inn several different tournaments, also winning Branko Bosnjak Memorial and French Open 2016 where he also was awarded The Nintai TROPHY, after defeating Sacha Décosterd in the final. In the draw this time, Odzeniak got a real challenge – Simon Pålsson, Sweden. one thing for sure, the one of them who advances, will probably face even bigger challenge in the next fight.
Simon Pålsson, Sweden
Sweden’s super heavyweight fighter for the last years, strong, good reach and dangerous knees. Results are much alike his opponent, Odzeniak. Non of them have been able to reach the podium in the European Championships, but the record shows several times at the podium in different tournaments as Swedish Open, Danish Open, French Open, Branko Bosnjak Memorial and more. It is obvious that Pålsson will be the stronger one,and will have to keep the pressure on. The big question is if he is capable to catch an overcome the technical fighting of Odzeniak – before the time will be on the polish fighters side – into an weight decision. This aspect brings good excitements into the fight!
The winner of Odzneiak vs Pålsson fight would have to meet the winner of Tomasz Bodzioch, Poland vs Kosei Ochiai, Japan. Last one will naturally be one of the favorites. If Odzneiak would be the one and Kosei Ochiai the other, we would see a rematch from World Championship in 2015, where they meet in the 2nd round. -but that is if they win their bouts this time.
Mateusz Kaptur, Poland
He is one of the top three fighters in Europe in the heaviest category, U22, an well merited in Poland as well, recently active in the U22 European Championship (3rd.place) But before that he also fought in Japan with the rest of the Polish team, in the 49th All Japan Open. In this tournament he made a good impression. Reaching round three and facing of Japan`s strong fighters Shoki Shimizu and loses to him. Shoki Shimizu has been on the All Japan JFKO podium. Made a good figure in the EC seniors 2016 in Georgia, where he advanced with an ippon in the first fight. Facing one of the best there is, Valeri Dimitrov in the next was a great experience as well, going the distance and getting fight time at this level is very valuable. Facing Kosei Ochiai, Japan will be one of the biggest challenge up to now, but a great setting for fighting on home soil with all the support he can get.
Kosei Ochiai, Japan
Being one of the Japanese national team member, brings us up on a certain level. Winning the 45th All japan Open in 2013, placed several times at the podium in the All Japan Open JFKO, but one of the strongest results would be top 16 in the World Tournament 2015. His strong punching style – in a direct counter timed matter, tears opponents down, and of course his ability to take punishment is also i big factor. Representing Japan in the World Championship weight categories this summer, and reached 8th place in a strong category. In his second fight, he beat reign EC Champion Maciej Mazur, Poland – and of course we smell a rematch in the final this tournament!
Tomasz Bodzioch, Poland
One of the younger fighter from Poland, but no lack of experience for that matter. Fought recently in the 49th All Japan Open, lost on a split decision 3-2 against Shuichi Okada, Japan. Bodzioch showed good speed and combinations, no doubt that the technical base is good. Looking at his European Championship record confirms this even more. Several times on the EC podium for Juniors and U-22, and he did also represent Poland in the EC the senior division. Leaving this tournament with a really good impression. Latest achievement was in the U-22 European Championship recently, where he capture the 3rd place in the -85 kg category. Facing a similar aged with strong record, Rasmus Bergström, Sweden.
Rasmus Bergström, Sweden
Bergström is the new rising star from Sweden. As for Bergström matter he recently prove to be the best at the U-22 European Championship, not only winning his category, but also getting the best fighter award. Despite his young age, Bergström hold a notable good record. Runner up in the U-22 EC, Swedish Open Champion, French Open Champion x2, Branko Bosniak Memorial Tournament Champion and more. Going for the quick finish makes him purposeful in his style, but being able to wait out strong opponents makes him even more effective.Technical variation on top of this results in many good merits. The opening fight vs Tomasz Bodzioch, Poland seems to be a very good match up for both, and a highly interesting one as well.
Ozora Kuriyama, Japan
This fighter would be a little more unknown than his team mate in the tournament. But not less interesting! Many have seen his recently fight in the 49th All Japan Open,where he was up against World Champion runner up Kembu Iriki. Irki one of the absolute top fighters in the world. But that fight was one thing, the other thing was that this was third round advancing. Maybe a little less known is his results in the 48th All Japan Open, not only reaching 3rd round but winning as well, and that against Shoki Shimizu (mention above in the Kaptur section) (photo wko link)
Shimizu is also the runner up in KWU World Champion. Ozora Kuriyama have a very high pace, driving style and that will be a challenge to face. He is also used to fight bigger opponents, so that would not be a factor for him. But what the other fighter are capable to will be a factor, and his opponent Maciej Mazur, has proven to be capable to do some serious things..!
Maciej Mazur, Poland
He is the reign Kokoro Cup champion, and Mazur can not come any close to a home fight. That will give him maximum back up and support. Being the best fighter in Europe in the heaviest category really tells something about your level and skills that you posses. Being on the podium 5 times last 6 years shows stability at a high level. Topping this with a strong 8th place in the World Championship in 2015, and recently reaching the 5th place in the 49th All Japan Open. Taking the Polish top result as an side note, tells us also that this is the top contender. But a loss in the World Tournament in weight categories this summer, but it might happen that it can be revenged.. Mazur lost in the 2nd round against Kosei Ochiai..
The cards are out, lets play Kokoro Cup!