5 of the Best Boxers in Kickboxing Today
“Lazy hands will bring poverty.”
I remember hearing these words whistle through the gym a moment after I was dropped to my knees by a monstrous right uppercut from my sparring partner.
It wasn’t so much that it was an idea that had never once crossed my mind prior to getting rocked this badly in a sparring session—but after wracking my brain processing the sentiment, I couldn’t have put it more eloquently in a million years.
Some would argue that the use of hands in general is what prompts the debate as to what is the more effective style of striking: Dutch or Thai?
The Dutch generally place a heavier emphasis on their boxing in order to set up outside low-kicks and knees from inside the pocket. Whereas a more conventional Thai fighter may only use their hands to set up an elbow or to close the distance in order to engage in the clinch.
Again, this is a very general way of looking at things as there have been a number of exceptionally good boxers that come from a traditional Thai style background. Olympic Gold Medalist, Somrak Khamsing is a prime example of this (watch him here in a boxing vs. muay thai fight).
But as we look towards the future of the sport through the growth and development of arguably the two largest promotions in the world right now (Lion Fight and Glory) there are a number of exceptionally talented fighters on either roster that know to how effectively use the sweet science. Here is (what I believe) to be the top five boxers in kickboxing.
#5. Wayne Barrett
As one of Glory’s top US middleweight prospects Barrett has found his greatest success as a methodical boxing tactician.
A two-time golden gloves champion before making the transition over to kickboxing, Barrett has frustrated some incredibly talented opposition with unpredictable footwork while simultaneously attacking from various angles.
Fight to watch: Wayne Barrett VS Joe Schilling at Glory 12 New York.
#4. Albert Kraus
While arguably past his prime, ‘The Hurricane’ was a force to be reckoned with during the golden era of K-1 circa 2003-2005.
Kraus’s 3-4 shot combos rarely failed to find a home against his opponents and his bout with Buakaw showed the importance of continual punches to close the distance against a heavy kicker.
Fight to watch: Albert Kraus VS John Wayne Parr K-1 World MAX 2005
#3. Gokhan Saki
Commonly referred to as ‘The Turkish Tyson’, Saki’s compact frame and unbelievable hand speed has proven to be a lethal combination against larger heavyweights.
Once in the pocket Saki’s boxing game is relentless; with combos usually following a similar pattern time and time again (head, head, body, body, head).
Fight to watch: Gokhan Saki VS Daniel Ghita Glory 6 Instanbul
#2. Artem Levin
Levin’s boxing ability is at the top of the game. So much so that he is able to implement tactics from a traditional boxing background that would normally be considered too high risk for Muay Thai.
Levin’s ability to lean outside of range from long straight punches from his opponent without bringing his feet with him would leave most people to think that he is vulnerable to leg kicks. Levin is able to neutralize this threat by firing off a stiff jab or stripping the lead arm of his opponent in order to land a looping right hand—a counter measure that has yet to be neutralized by anyone in his past five performances.
Fight to watch: Artem Levin VS Joe Schilling Glory Last Man Standing
#1. Nieky Holzken
The number one ranked welterweight sits atop one of the most stacked divisions in the world with a nearly impeccable boxing pedigree that he has implemented into his own devastating style of striking.
Holzken’s bread and butter is using high volume combinations without sitting down on any of his punches aimed towards the head just before ripping the left hook to the liver with prejudice. This gives Holzken’s opponents so much trouble because his striking trajectory is so non-linear.
There is no way of knowing whether he will throw three shots upstairs before transitioning to the body or if he will start with the monstrous liver shot and gradually move upstairs with uppercuts and hooks.
Holzken, in many ways, is in a class by himself as far boxing for Muay Thai or Kickboxing is concerned.
Fight to watch: Nieky Holzken VS Raymond Daniels Glory 19
Who do you think should be on the list?
Comment below on who your top 5 boxers in Muay Thai are!
- Steve Eisman is a recent graduate from the University of Colorado, an aspiring amateur fighter and an assistant coach at The Easton Training Center in Boulder. Steve has trained in Thailand on two separate occasions where he fought in both Phuket and Bangkok. He loves Chipotle almost as much he loves seeing people progress in their training. Steve's passion for the sport is contagious and he will happily talk your ear off about the fight game, movies, books and food.