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Kickboxing

Hiroki Akimoto makes bantamweight debut vs Zhang Chenglong

Hiroki Akimoto targets a sensational debut as he moves up to the ONE Super Series kickboxing bantamweight division for the first time.

Akimoto takes on third-ranked bantamweight “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong in the main event of the previously recorded ONE: Reign of Dynasties II, which airs this Friday, October 16.

After making a name for himself in the flyweight division, Akimoto hopes to bring the same fire and grit to the heavier weight class. And he has ONE gold in mind.

“I want to win, earn a spot in the rankings, and be a top-level contender to challenge for the World Title,” he told ONEFC.com.

Though he was successful in his previous weight class, an injury in his win over Kenny “The Pitbull” Tse in 2019 prompted him to move up.

Now that he is set to debut at his new weight, he is confident he bulked up the right way.

“I broke my left fist in the bout [against Tse],” Akimoto said. “I felt like I couldn’t compete for about a year, so I was hoping that I could build my body and move up a weight class during that time.

“I think I have prepared well. My coaches say my kicks and punches have become heavier.”

Asked about Zhang, Akimoto was quick to credit his opponent, noting the Chinese’s toughness and overall grit.

He plans to test that toughness, though, as he promises to bring the action to his foe on Friday night.

“I thought he was a powerful athlete, so I was not sure how it was going to be. I had the impression that he was a tough athlete with strong punches. He has a strong chin and stamina,” Akimoto said.

Once he is finished with Zhang, he will set his eyes on current World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov. And anything less than a World Title run in this weight class would be a disappointment for him.

“To aim to be a World Champion means I have someone to look up to,” the Japanese athlete said. “I want to be a ONE World Champion, defend the belt, and be a person who is looked up to.”

Watch ONE: Reign of Dynasties II on One Sports+ at 8:30 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (PHT). Also, One Sports will air the event on a same-day delay at 9 p.m. PHT.

In addition to that, TV5 will air the show on a next-day delay at 11 p.m. PHT on Saturday, 17 October. You can also catch all the action on the ONE Super App for free.


Read More From ONE Championship:

The Best Pictures From ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES

Full Card Revealed For ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II On 16 October

Sam-A Retains ONE Strawweight World Title With TKO Of Josh Tonna

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