Hiroki Akimoto lived up to the hype in his ONE Super Series debut on Friday, 25 January.
The highly-touted karate specialist was an offensive juggernaut at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT, which took place at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
He faced the always-tough Josh “Timebomb” Tonna in a kickboxing flyweight bout, and defeated the Australian via unanimous decision.
Japan's Hiroki Akimoto unleashes his surgical striking in a unanimous decision victory over Josh Tonna! ????????Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, January 25, 2019
As soon as the opening bell sounded, Akimoto was quick to unleash a series of stinging kicks to the legs.
That did not deter Tonna, however. He never stopped trying to close the distance and attack, but the WFKO Karate World Champion was fast on his feet and kept launching lighting-quick kicks.
Tonna’s aggression continued until Akimoto uncorked a perfectly-timed left kick to the body, which dug into the 30-year-old Aussie’s ribs. The strike left him wincing in pain and caused him to turn away from his Japanese counterpart.
The referee paused the action to administer a 10-count, but “Timebomb” opted to continue.
Following the restart, Akimoto’s confidence was soaring, but he left his guard down. The Australian noticed and connected with a clean right hand on the jaw, which sent his surprised opponent to the canvas.
That was a warning shot, and the karate specialist took it seriously as he made an adjustment going into the second frame.
As soon as round two began, the 26-year-old Japanese talent was on point for the remainder of the contest.
He sliced through the Aussie’s defense with four-strike and five-strike combinations. Tonna showed incredible heart to absorb the damage, but his pace noticeably slowed down.
Akimoto turned up the pressure in the third and final round, clearly looking for a finish.
He fired off another hard kick at Tonna’s body, which almost instantaneously folded him in half and sent him down to the mat.
“Timebomb” got up, but Akimoto immediately attacked with more firepower. He connected with beautifully-timed combinations, and then dropped the Australian flyweight with a head kick.
Despite the numerous knockdowns, Tonna refused to go away without leaving everything in the cage, and he was right back in the Evolve representative’s face until the final bell rang.
Tonna may have survived, but there was no doubt Akimoto had earned the victory. The judges gave him a unanimous decision, which moved his spotless record to 20-0.