Jonathan “The General” Haggerty promised he would leave his emotions out of his next ONE Super Series foray, but the Englishman still showed plenty of heart as he dominated at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday night.
From the opening bell, Haggerty attacked with conviction, unloading body and front kicks onto Naito while switching between southpaw and orthodox stances to confuse his Japanese opponent. Naito handled the pressure well, often launching his own high kicks at “The General,” and neither man was able to rack up any serious damage.
The highlight of the round came when Naito threw an outside low kick. Haggerty countered the strike with an overhand right, which sent the back of Naito’s head to his spine. “Silent Sniper” dropped to the canvas, and as the referee counted, he slowly returned to his feet.
Haggerty tried to finish Naito before the round ended, but the Japanese athlete did a fantastic job fending off “The General” with high kicks.
At the start of round two, Naito caught Haggerty’s push kicks and countered with stinging low kicks. However, the Englishman – picking up on his rival’s tactics – faked a left push kick and instead launched a thunderous right hand that sent Naito tumbling backward and down for the second time.
Naito returned to his feet yet again, and Haggerty tried to finish the job with a high kick, but his toes grazed “Silent Sniper’s” eye and a timeout was called. When the action resumed, Naito desperately tried to land sweltering body kicks, but Haggerty’s will was just too strong to be denied.
Next, the Englishman caught a kick and swept his rival down to the canvas. The knockdown didn’t warrant a count this time, but it did force the Japanese athlete to rethink his strategy going into the final stanza.
With two stanzas and two eight-counts behind him, Haggerty came out in round three looking for the finish. He welted the body of Naito with kicks and went for another overhand right. But surprisingly, the Japanese striker looked fresher than his opponent.
“Silent Sniper” backed Haggerty around the Circle while attacking his legs, and when the British striker responded with a push kick, Naito caught and countered with a left high kick. The Japanese star’s shining moment came when he stung Haggerty’s body with a straight right and immediately followed up with a right high kick.
Naito continued to press forward and attack the legs and arms of Haggerty with kicks, but “The General,” knowing he was ahead on the scorecards, comfortably rode out the final moments of the round by absorbing the attacks.
After three thrilling rounds, the two knockdowns were more than enough to get Haggerty the unanimous decision win, which moved his record to 16-4 and solidified his #3 spot in the flyweight Muay Thai rankings.