Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl wants to prove he belongs alongside the striking elite when he competes in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix for a second time.
After suffering a tough loss to Dzhabar Askerov in the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix quarterfinals, Kehl believes he can truly shine this time around.
“It’s a big honor to fight again in the tournament and an honor that ONE believes in me, so I took the chance,” he says. “I hope I can show the world that I’m one of the best fighters.”
Kehl has reason to feel optimistic. He took lessons away from his three-round war with Askerov and has since posted back-to-back wins on the global stage.
First, he finished Armen Petrosyan at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS in November 2019. And he added another big scalp to his resume in a rematch with fellow Grand Prix competitor Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov at “ONE on TNT I” this past April.
With all that positive momentum and a fresh spark from his new training squad at Trans4mer Mainz, the German feels like he’s ready to battle the best strikers on the planet.
“Chingiz is one of the greatest fighters in the world, everybody knows it. That was a very good performance of mine. This was because I changed my team at the beginning of the year,” Kehl says.
“We worked very hard and, in my opinion, I made a big step forward in my performance, so I am looking forward to the tournament because my confidence is now very high, and I can’t wait to step into the ring with the big names of the world again.”
Still, advancing through the bracket will not be easy. Outside of the two men fighting for the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Title — Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan and Superbon — all of the top athletes in the division are vying for the silver Grand Prix belt.
This isn’t a deterrent for Kehl, however. He is relishing the difficult challenge and eager to get started on 15 October.
“It’s the most stacked tournament in the most stacked weight class. The fights are all very hard and every fighter is a favorite,” he says.
“Every fighter is a big name, they’re all World Champions, and no matter who gets to the semifinals or the finals, each fight will be a great fight.”
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Opening-round assignments don’t come much tougher than Kiria, a former Glory and Kunlun Fight Kickboxing World Champion who possesses concussive power and a unique skill set.
“The Hurricane” knows what his upcoming rival brings to the table, but that tough test only adds to his excitement.
“Kiria is also one of the best fighters in the world. He’s very dangerous. He has a lot of skills. He has very good kicks because he comes from karate,” Kehl says.
“But as I’ve already said, I’ve changed my team, we’ve worked very hard for him, and we can’t wait to step into the ring again and show everybody who I am.”
Kehl has finished his opponents in two of his three ONE Super Series wins, and another one would certainly make a statement.
He’s aiming for a highlight-reel moment, but more than anything, the German star wants to progress and keep his dream of winning the biggest tournament in kickboxing alive.
“Every fighter wants to finish his fight via KO, but we will see what happens, if the game plan works or not,” he says.
“Our target is to win this fight by knockout, for sure. But knockout or not, the most important thing is to win this fight and get to the semifinals to show the world that we are there. Then we can also continue to fight for the title.”