‘Prepare As I Always Do’ – Hiroki Akimoto Unfazed By Tough Matchup With Wei Rui At ONE Fight Night 22

Hiroki Akimoto makes his way to the Circle at ONE 163

Hiroki Akimoto is ready to showcase big improvements in his long-awaited return to action in U.S. primetime on Friday, May 3. 

The former ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion lost the belt in his last outing but believes he can get back to winning ways against Chinese superstar “Demon Blade” Wei Rui at ONE Fight Night 22: Sundell vs. Diachkova on Prime Video

The Japanese striker formerly trained full-time at Evolve MMA in Singapore, but visa issues forced a move back to his homeland, where he’s now settled in at Tokyo’s Power of Dreams gym. 

Akimoto is happy with his current team and hopes his development will be evident when he competes next week at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. 

The 31-year-old explained: 

“I couldn’t renew my visa, so I left Singapore and returned to Japan. I started to train at a new gym last December, so that has been a big change. 

“Ultimately, I won’t know until I actually fight, but I’m getting a good feeling from it. I’m having many realizations in each training session, and I can feel myself growing. 

“In terms of training, the previous fight showed me my weaknesses, so I’ve been working on improving those while further honing my strengths.” 

For his part, Wei is one of China’s greatest kickboxing exports with a current 20-fight winning streak and both K-1 and KLF Championships to his name. 

Akimoto was thrilled to receive such a high-level foe for his return and knows he’s in for a tough battle – but he’s not intimidated by the experienced “Demon Blade”:

“My opponent is a really good fighter, so I was happy when I got the offer. I knew about him. I haven’t seen him fight live, but I had the impression that he’s a skilled fighter. 

“All the fighters in ONE have won titles so I’m not really conscious of the fact that he’s a former K-1 World Champion.  

“I just see him as another fighter who has strengths but also areas that can be exploited, so I’ll just prepare as I always do.” 

Hiroki Akimoto Aims To Dominate ‘Skilled’ Wei Rui 

Boasting an incredible 69-3 record with plenty of accolades to his name, Wei Rui is one of the top pound-for-pound kickboxers on the planet.  

However, Hiroki Akimoto is a former ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion with a 26-2 professional record, so he is no stranger to facing the best of the best. 

Anticipating an exciting clash of styles, Akimoto said: 

“My opponent has good reach. He uses his arms and legs very skillfully, and his footwork is also good. 

“Since my opponent is skilled with both kicks and punches, I think it will be more of a long-range fight. The exchanges at that range should be interesting to watch.  

“I’m good at kicking too, and since my opponent excels at various kicks, that aspect should be a highlight.” 

While Akimoto is quick to credit Wei, he’s primarily focused on enforcing his own game plan in the contest.  

Above all, the Japanese athlete knows that letting “Demon Blade” get a foothold in the match could be disastrous, so he’s aiming to assert his authority from the opening bell.

Akimoto added: 

“I want to shut him out completely. That’s the main goal. There are a few key points I have in mind, so I want to execute those properly. If I let him take control, I’ll lose, so I need to do what I’ve practiced.  

“In the first half of the fight, we’ll likely exchange kicks in an exciting way for the viewers. Then in the second half, I want to take control of the pace and be dominant at both kicking and close range.” 

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