Top 10 Best Kickboxers in the World

Oct 12, 2022
Heavyweight king Rico Verhoeven. Photo: GLORY Kickboxing
Our comprehensive round-up of the 10 best Kickboxers in the world in 2022.

Pound-for-pound rankings have always been a subjective matter. Trying to determine the ten best Kickboxers in the world, regardless of weight class, isn’t an easy task considering how wildly different bodies, styles, and skillsets are throughout different promotions, countries, and even weight classes. Every month, our esteemed panel of experts sits down and votes on the best the sport has to offer. So while our Beyond Kickboxing Rankings serve some sort of actual, functional purpose, the pound-for-pound ranking shouldn't be taken as a cold hard fact, but as a means to portray and contextualize the increasingly confusing Kickboxing landscape, especially to those new to the sport.



One of the greatest kickboxers of all time, Italy’s Giorgio Petrosyan (105-3) is still a pound-for-pound talent after 19 years in the game at number 10. Debuting in 2003, Petrosyan has had a storied career filled with some of the greatest accolades and names the sport has to offer. The two-time K-1 MAX World Grand Prix Tournament Champion, GLORY 70kg Slam Tournament Champion, and former ONE Featherweight Grand Prix Champion, Petrosyan has seen it all. From Kickboxing’s golden age, Petrosyan has defeated the likes of Andy Souwer, Mike Zambidis, and Albert Kraus. Even more impressive is Petrosyan’s longevity, being able to find success over fighters such as Chingiz Allazov, Samy Sana, and Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy in the latter half of his career. Petrosyan’s lasting success is due to his style. Nicknamed "The Doctor" for a reason, Petrosyan is a precise fighter with a mastery of distance, timing, and defense with a special talent for frustrating his opponents. It is only recently that Petrosyan has actually faltered, getting knocked out by Superbon Singmawin and deciding to take a year off to recover a broken jaw caused by the knockout. He returned to the ring in April, fighting at PetrosyanMANIA. However, there is no news yet of a potential return to the ONE circle. 



China’s own, Wei Rui (67-3), is Beyond Kickboxing’s number nine ranked pound-for-pound fighter. With the longest win streak on the pound-for-pound list, 18 fights, Rui has found success throughout Asia across multiple weight classes. During Rui’s first stint in China, which dates back to 2015, he won the Wu Lin Feng 63kg World Championship Tournament, beating fighters like Pakorn P.K. Saenchai Muaythaigym and Deng Zeqi to win the title. Going over to Japan in 2017, Rui also became the K-1 Lightweight (62.5 kg) Champion. Rui’s time in Japan saw him take victories over Daizo Sasaki, Cristian Spectu, and Ren Hiramoto to win the Lightweight World Grand Prix tournament. Rui defended his title once against Kongnapa Weerasakreck. Making his way back to China, Rui returned to WLF up a weight class to fight in their 2020 King’s Super Cup 66kg tournament. In this tournament, Rui was matched up against some of China’s best Kickboxers including Wang Pengfei, Liu Xianming, Jia Aoqi, and Jin Ying. Rui found success over all of his opponents, winning the title over the runner-up, Jin Ying. With a Sanda-influenced style, Rui uses a wide variety of kicks along with strong boxing to break down his opponents. Unfortunately, Rui’s most recent competition has been less-than-stellar, as he chooses to fight international fighters of no real note in his latest outings. 



The youngest addition to the Beyond Kickboxing pound-for-pound rankings is 26-year-old Japanese fighter, Kazuki Osaki (36-5), at number eight. With an extensive Muay Thai background, Osaki has competed in Thailand, racking up wins and challenging for the title at the renowned Lumpinee Stadium. Making the switch to Kickboxing just three years ago, he quickly shot up the ranks. Now fighting in RISE, Osaki holds their Super Flyweight (53 kg) title. To get to his title, Osaki had to go through the likes of Kazane and Jin Mandokoro. Since winning his title, Osaki has been on a six-fight win streak with names like Issei Ishii and Sanchai Teppen Gym under his belt. His fight with Ishii is one to watch, with it being a '2021 Fight of the Year' contender. As expected of a fighter with a Muay Thai background, Osaki has great kicks and knees. However, it is his boxing that separates him from the rest of his peers. Working with fast combinations, Osaki mixes it up well by going to the body consistently and effectively. He fights Kazane next in a rematch at RISE World Series on October 15 in the main event. 



The number seven ranking belongs to Armenian fighter, Marat Grigorian (65-12-1). Signed to ONE Championship where he fights in their Featherweight division, Grigorian is without a doubt one of the most exciting Kickboxers in the world. More than just an action fighter, Grigorian has the skill to match his forward pressure. Winning the GLORY title against Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong in 2019, Grigorian defended his title two times against Tyjani Beztazi and Elvis Gashi. Since signing with ONE, Grigorian has found himself up against Ivan Kondratiev, Andy Souwer, and Superbon Singamawin. Finishing Kondratiev and Souwer, his only loss in ONE has been at the hands of Superbon. A heavy-pressure fighter, Grigorian has a classical Dutch Kickboxing style. Never moving backward, Grigorian is in his opponent’s face from the very start always throwing forceful kicks and punches. Having just won a tenacious fight against Tayfun Ozcan, it is unlikely he will be fighting anytime soon. However, when he does return, Grigorian is a must-watch for any fan of the sport. 



At number six from the Netherlands is the best Heavyweight Kickboxer of the modern era, Rico Verhoeven (59-10). Fighting in GLORY, the premiere organization for Kickboxing’s big men, he has held the Heavyweight (+95 kg) title since 2014. Accumulating 10 title defenses, Verhoeven is the longest reigning Champion on the pound-for-pound list. With names like Jamal Ben Saddik, Tarik Khbabez, and Badr Hari on his record, Verhoeven has beaten fighters new and old to prove he is truly the king of the Heavyweight division. While there are fans who don't appreciate Verhoeven's methodical approach to fighting, he has shown that he's full of grit and determination when it counts the most. In just his last fight, Verhoeven went to war with Jamal Ben Saddik. In danger early on, Verhoeven was knocked down in the second round, resulting in a gash on his face. He willed his way back against Ben Saddik and rallied to deliver a fourth-round TKO. The only thing stopping Verhoeven from being any higher on the pound-for-pound ranking is the Heavyweight division’s comparative weakness to other divisions, especially compared to past Heavyweights. 



Holding the number five ranking is Thailand’s Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (127-33). The former GLORY Lightweight (70 kg) Champion and former Wu Lin Feng (71 kg) Champion, Sitthichai is a long-time veteran of the sport. Yet despite the longevity of his career, Sitthichai has proven himself to be a mainstay in the world of Kickboxing with his ONE Championship Featherweight Grand Prix tournament run. In order to make it to the tournament final, Sitthichai had to overcome Tayfun Ozcan and Davit Kiria. In the opening round, Sitthichai matched Ozcan’s speed and pace, winning decisively. Moving on to the semifinals, Sitthichai flaunted his southpaw game, leading Kiria onto his shots in a smooth showcase of his skills. Going into the final, Sitthichai was to rematch Chingiz Allazov from their first fight in 2014, which the Thai won. However, this time Sitthichai was on the losing end with Allazov getting the decision. Having only recently lost to those ranked above him in Superbon and Chingiz, Sitthichai looks to be one of the best Kickboxers in the world for the foreseeable future. To prove so, he fights undefeated prospect Mohammed Boutasaa at ONE 162 on October 21. 



Clinching the number four ranking is Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao (167-38). Fighting under the GLORY banner, he holds the Featherweight (65 kg) belt where he has gone undefeated in nine fights. Additionally, due to crossover events between GLORY and RISE, Petchpanomrung has also become RISE’s inaugural Super Lightweight (65 kg) World Champion. Defeating Kento Haraguchi for the RISE title in August, Petchpanomrung is the only cross-promotional Champion in the sport across the major promotions. With four title defenses in GLORY, Petchpanomrung is known for neutralizing his opponents through effective clinch work and powerful kicks that keep his opponents at bay. Even with his defensively-minded style, Petchpanomrung is still more than capable of delivering highlights, proving so with his explosive head-kick knockouts over Zakaria Zouggary and Abdellah Ezbiri. Further demonstrating he is one of the best in the world, Petchpanomrung defended his GLORY title against Abraham Vidales at COLLISION 4 on October 8 in dominant fashion. While it is too soon to discuss his next fight, one thing is certain, Petchpanomrung will continue to be a stonewall for contenders in his division. 



In the number three spot is Artem Vakhitov (22-6) from Russia. The former two-time GLORY Light Heavyweight (95 kg) Champion is currently in a state of limbo. GLORY released Vakhitov and all of its Russian fighters in June due to difficulties caused by sanctions imposed on Russia. This was just before Vakhitov's first defense of his second run as Glory Champion in a rematch against Luis Tavares. Vakhitov reclaimed his title in a rematch against Alex Pereira after losing it in a controversial split decision. Before Vakhitov’s first fight with Pereira, Vakhitov was reigning over the division with five defenses against fighters such as Donegi Abena, Saulo Cavalari, and Ariel Machado. A meat and potatoes fighter, Vakhitov is heavily reliant on his fight IQ and fundamentals. Keeping a tight, high guard, Vakhitov leaves no gaps in his defense. His offense is not flashy, but it is extremely effective. Vakhitov’s jab is consistent, going to the body and head, with a straight always following behind it. Vakhitov’s kicks are not showy, however, they do exactly what they are supposed to do. It is hoped that the Russian signs with a major promotion so he can continue his reign at the top.



Coming in at number two is Chingiz Allazov (59-5) out of Belarus. Since experiencing a minor setback in April 2021 against Enriko Kehl, the former K-1 Super Welterweight (70 kg) Champion has been on a tear through ONE Championship’s Featherweight division. An aggressive starter, two of Allazov’s last three fights have ended in a first-round knockout over Samy Sana and Jo Nattawut. However, more than just a strong athlete, Allazov showcased his technical skills in a hard-fought victory against Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong winning the ONE Championship Featherweight Grand Prix Final in the process. Allazov’s tournament run earned him a title shot against Superbon Singmawin and his place in the pound-for-pound rankings. With Superbon also having to withdraw from ONE at Prime Video 2, ONE should reschedule the two when health permits.



Fighting out of Thailand, the number one ranked fighter in our pound-for-pound list, Superbon (113-34), is the current champion of ONE Championship’s Featherweight (70 kg) division. Superbon, who has looked unstoppable during his ONE Championship tenure so far, started to make a name for himself in Kunlun Fight in 2015 and onward.  A defensively sound and slick outfighter, the Thai quickly established himself in the -70 kg rankings worldwide. Winning his trilogy with Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan, and putting on a masterclass performance in a revenge match against Marat Grigorian, Superbon’s last three fights have cemented his place as the best Kickboxer in the world. Superbon was initially supposed to fight Chingiz Allazov at ONE on Prime Video 2.  However, due to an injury on Allazov’s end, he had to pull out, being replaced by Tayfun Ozcan. In another turn of unfortunate events, Superbon was not medically cleared to compete, having to pull out of the event as well. There is no news on when Superbon will make his return, but when he does, here is hoping that it is against Chingiz Allazov. A fight between the two is one of the best skill matchups, not only in their division but in the world.