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Masato to Retire Against Andy Souwer

The opponent for Masato's farewell to competitive kickboxing will be fellow two-time K-1 World MAX GP champion Andy Souwer on the New Year's Eve Dynamite!! 2009 event in Saitama, Japan, promoters announced Thursday.

Masato, whom Souwer has already beaten twice, will aim to avoid the clean sweep in the finale to his 12-and-a-half year career.

Masato wanted to fight this year's K-1 World MAX champion and the eventual winner, Giorgio Petrosyan, accepted, but will not be allowed to compete due to a hand injury suffered in his semifinal bout against Yuya Yamamoto on Oct. 26.

Petrosyan was looking to force Masato to pass him the torch as the new face K-1 MAX.

"I'm sure the Japanese fans think so," Petrosyan told the K-1 website. "He's a Japanese fighter. But MAX doesn't equal Masato in my opinion. He's from the past ... It's mine, now. Right? That's what I think."

A victory over Souwer would be a grand way for Masato to finish his career, as besides the two losses to Souwer, Masato has won 18 of his last 20 bouts.

Dynamite!! 2009 Fight Card:

K-1 MAX: Masato vs. Andy Souwer
K-1 Koshien Semifinals: Hiroya vs. Masaaki Noiri
K-1 Koshien Semifinals Shota Shimada vs. Katsuki Ishida
K-1 Koshien Reserve: Tsukasa Fuji vs. Tatuya Kusakabe
DREAM: Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

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