Beyond Kickboxing's 2023 Event of the Year: RISE World Series 2023 Final Round

Jan 21, 2024
RISE’s final event of the year is our pick for event of the year.

THE MATCH 2022 was a watershed moment in the history of kickboxing with the sport reaching the height not seen since the golden age of K-1 in the 2000s. Yet, as the dust settled, questions loomed about the sport’s direction, especially with its stars like Tenshin leaving for the greener grass of boxing and MMA.

The answer came roaring back in an audacious move by RISE – a return to the roots with a grand tournament and bringing together elite fighters across promotions in a high-stakes, electrifying showdowns.

It was a risky undertaking. A tournament is unpredictable, homegrown heroes could falter against unknown fighters from other organizations, and equal matchups do not always translate into thrilling spectacles. But the bet paid off and the event exceeded even the wildest expectations.

If future generations ask to see the best of kickboxing in 2023, they should start with RISE World Series 2023 Final Round.

The card delivered spectacular knock outs, upsets, comeback victories, end of the title reign, and satisfying conclusion to a story arc.

In the main event, Toki Tamaru, the underdog of the RISE WORLD SERIES -54 KG Tournament, emerged as a new star of the kickboxing world. After he delivered a stunning knockout against Petchsila in the quarter final, he overcame the heartbreak of his mother's passing, and defeated the formidable Kazuki Osaki in the semifinal. In a flawless performance in this event and tournament final, Toki Tamaru outfought Kumandoi, dropping him in the 2nd round to win the title and cap off his spectacular run this year.

In the co-main event, Chadd Collins ended the 5-year reign over 65 KG division of Petchpanomrung. The GLORY and RISE champion finally met his match after the Australian put on relentless pressure for 5 rounds. In a major upset, Chadd became the new RISE Super Lightweight champion, sending shockwave to both GLORY and RISE, opening up a possibility of a rematch or a fight with Kento for the title.

The event also featured international clashes. RISE fighters performed incredibly well in RISE vs. GLORY match ups with Kento Haraguchi, Taiju Shiratori, Kan Nakamura, and Kenta Nanbara, scoring brutal knock outs against 5 GLORY representatives. The Japanese against Thai under PETCHYINDEE banner fights were a showcase of talents and potentials. Shiro made quick work of Boonlong, while pound-for-pound talent Kazuki Osaki nearly lost to 17-year-old unknown, Jarensuk.

RISE World Series 2023 set a new standard for what kickboxing could be, capturing the essence of the sport and projecting its bright future. This was an event that did not just entertain; it inspired, leaving a mark on the hearts of kickboxing fans worldwide.





GLORY's sixth edition of their stacked COLLISION event series took the promotion to the GelreDome in Arnhem, the Netherlands. 

What could have been the card of the year, sadly didn't quite deliver when it mattered. Tarik Khbabez was supposed to unify his Light Heavyweight title against reigning champion Donegi Abena but droppped out late due to suffering a hand injury. Short notice replacement Mohamed Touchassie put in a valiant effort, but it was obvious that he was outmatched and outsized at Light Heavyweight.

In the headlining bout, Rico Verhoeven returned to the GLORY ring for the first time in two years. While the much-anticipated clash against Antonia Plazibat didn't materialize, many thought that the size of Tariq Osaro could cause issues to the dominant Heavyweight reign of the champion. Unfortunately neither fighter got out of the first gear, resulting in one of the more lackluster title defenses of the towering Dutch fighter.

The rest of the card however delivered big time, namely the Middleweight title fight between Donovan Wisse and Michael Boapeah and high-stackes fights involving Hamicha, Serkan Ozcaglayan, Chico Kwasi, and Abraham Vidales.