‘I Love To Beat Muay Thai Fighters’ – Hiroki Akimoto Excited To Defend Kickboxing Belt Against Petchtanong
Hiroki Akimoto is getting used to life as the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion, so he doesn’t plan on letting the belt slip from his grasp on Saturday, November 19.
The Japanese sensation will defend his gold against Thai star Petchtanong Petchfergus in the main event of ONE 163, and he can’t wait to fight in front of his adopted hometown crowd in Singapore once again.
Following his dominant World Title win over Capitan Petchyindee in March, Akimoto feels much more assured that he can defeat the top strikers on the planet.
The 30-year-old said:
“I’ve been a World Champion for almost six months. I have stayed focused for my next fight, I can’t wait for the fight with [Petchtanong].
“There is not so much a big change [being champion], but after the last fight I felt more confident with myself. Before the fight, I didn’t feel so confident with my strength and my striking level, but now I am the World Champion, I’m confident with my ability.”
Although Akimoto will enter his first World Title defense as the reigning king, his opponent is a former WMC and WBC Muay Thai World Champion who’s won more than 300 professional fights.
But while he’s competed just 27 times himself – putting together a stellar 26-1 record – the Japanese karate stylist is not fazed by Petchtanong’s resume.
Instead, he knows what to expect from the experienced Thai veteran, and he has no doubts about the outcome of their contest.
“My opponent is a technician so I tried to prepare for everything to win. I watched a few fights and his latest win, and I saw how to win against him. I have already set my game plan for him.
“Of course I expect that he has improved for this fight, but it doesn’t matter. I will win.”
Akimoto Eager To Showcase Power Of Japanese Striking
Hiroki Akimoto is ready to defend his ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title against a man who rose through the Muay Thai ranks in the sport’s homeland.
Petchtanong has also competed extensively in kickboxing, but the 37-year-old’s foundations in “the art of eight limbs” are still clearly present whenever he fights. And for the Japanese king, this makes their battle even more exciting.
Growing up, Akimoto watched his countryman struggle against the tough athletes who were forged on the elite Bangkok circuit.
Now, the former WFKO Kyokushin Karate World Champion is eager to show that Japanese strikers have caught up with their Thai counterparts.
“When I was around 10 years old, I watched many Japanese fighters against Muay Thai fighters, and I saw a lot of Japanese fighters lose. But now times have changed, and I love to beat Muay Thai fighters.
“I believe I’m the number one in ONE Championship with striking skill. I would like to defend my title against him and knock him out in this fight.”