Boxer/K-1 legend dead at 42

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:31 PM ET

TORONTO - K-1 legend and former WBF heavyweight champion Mike Bernardo was found dead in his Cape Town home Tuesday. He was 42 years old.

An official cause of death has yet to be released.

The South African boxer and kickboxer fought the who’s who of the K-1 circuit throughout the mid-90s and early 2000s. Bernardo holds notable victories over Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic, Francisco Filho, Branco Cikatic and Peter Aerts, whom he defeated three times in a row.

But perhaps Bernardo is best remembered for his fierce rivalry with the late, great Andy Hug.

In his K-1 debut in Tokyo March 3, 1995, Bernardo unloaded on a prone Hug to secure a standing TKO victory. Six months later, he wobbled the Swiss kickboxer with a counter punch that caused the referee to stop the fight.

However, Hug got his revenge on the biggest stage of all, the 1996 K-1 world grand prix finals. Hug secured the tournament championship with a stunning, spinning low kick to the leg that left Bernardo unable to stand.

The two engaged in their final battle on April 29, 1997 in Zurich, where Hug won a unanimous decision. Hug died three years later of acute leukemia.

ROYAL TREATMENT

That’s “Your Majesty, Lord Cro Cop” to you, Pat Barry.

Coming off his knockout victory over Christian Morecraft last month, Barry flew to Croatia to help Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic prepare for his upcoming kickboxing bout against Ray Sefo.

In a video posted on TwitVid.com Tuesday, Barry recounts how Filipovic threw out the odd challenge of a jiu-jitsu bout during their second day of training.

“Why the f--- are we doing a jiu-jitsu match?” Barry says in the video. “I have no idea. He has a kickboxing match coming up, but whatever, I’m Pat. I’m in the f---ing UFC, b----. I’m in a video game. I’ll do it.”

The two agreed to one 30-minute round that saw Filipovic submit Barry five times. As a result, Barry has to treat the MMA legend like royalty for the remainder of his stay.

“I have to refer to him as ‘Your Majesty, Lord Cro Cop’ and raise my hand and ask to have some water or use the bathroom,” a visibly bruised Barry continues. “Which is some s--- because I already look like the f---ing Hunchback of Notre Dame with this eye.”

Hopefully you’ll think twice before posting a video of Cro Cop belting out “California Dreamin’” on YouTube again, eh Pat?

CONDIT WAITING FOR GSP TO HEAL

Since a rematch with Nick Diaz has officially gone up in smoke, newly-crowned UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit will sit back and wait for Georges St. Pierre to completely heal from his knee surgery.

“We don’t know when Georges is coming back yet,” UFC president Dana White told MMA Junkie. “But Carlos isn’t going to fight another fight.”

Condit won a controversial unanimous decision over Diaz at UFC 143 in Las Vegas earlier this month. Though he verbally agreed to give the polarizing welterweight another crack at the gold, Diaz tested positive for marijuana and likely faces a one-year suspension.

St. Pierre was originally scheduled to defend his welterweight championship against Diaz at UFC 143, but was forced to go under the knife to repair a torn ACL.

OVEREEM IS OVER HERE

After wandering the MMA landscape for months, UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem has finally set up shop in Florida.

The 2010 K-1 world grand prix champion has signed with Authentic Sports Management and officially joined Imperial Athletics as a member of the ‘Blackzilians.’

“Since I signed my UFC contract, I knew I needed to be in the States more and, therefore, I visited several gyms, training camps, managers and other interesting people in the industry,” Overeem told MMA Weekly. “When I came to South Florida, with ASM, I saw right away they are not only a management company, but an organization that makes sure that everything besides fighting is being taken care of.”

Though the Blackzilian fight team is relatively new, it’s already acquired some big-name talent. Among its list of athletes are light-heavyweight contender Rashad Evans, Melvin Guillard, Anthony Johnson and Jorge Santiago.

In September, Overeem split from his long-time management team, Golden Glory, citing a breach of trust. He is set to challenge UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 in Las Vegas, May 26.


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