Katsuki Kitano Plans To Capitalize On High-Profile Fight Against ‘Big Name’ Liam Harrison At ONE 167

Katsuki Kitano Halil Kutukcu ONE Friday Fights 38 27

Katsuki “Bong” Kitano is preparing for the toughest battle of his career in U.S. primetime on Friday, June 7.

At ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video, the Japanese striker will take on international fan favorite Liam “Hitman” Harrison in a bantamweight Muay Thai tilt at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

A veteran of 35 career fights – including his successful ONE debut last October – Kitano has established himself as one of his country’s top talents and a rising star to watch in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

At the same time, he understands that his opponent is one of the most beloved and respected figures in the sport. A former three-time Muay Thai World Champion with well over 100 pro bouts on his resume, Harrison is revered for his all-action, fearless style of combat.

“Bong” says he’s been watching the Brit for a long time, even recalling “Hitman’s” 2016 victory over decorated Japanese fighter Yamato Tetsuya outside of ONE.

He told onefc.com:

“Since he’s a big name, if I can beat him, this is a great opportunity. I’ve known about him for a long time, and I saw my senior Yamato Tetsuya fight him before, so when I got the offer, I thought, ‘Wow, it’s my turn now.’ I decided I’d go for it wholeheartedly.”

“He’s a big name, so it really motivates me.”

Given his foe’s lengthy list of accomplishments, Kitano is preparing both mentally and physically for an all-out war.

The 28-year-old admits that Harrison’s trademark low kicks and blazing speed could present some problems. And while “Bong” stands 3 inches taller and holds a significant reach advantage, he doesn’t think his opponent will be particularly easy to hit:

“I need to watch out for his low kicks. And I think he’s faster than I expected, so I have to be careful about that.”

“His weakness is that I have the reach advantage over him. But still, I don’t think he has any openings. I’m training hard to make sure I win.”

It’s undeniable that Harrison is the much more experienced athlete in this matchup – both inside and outside of ONE.

But that experience edge cuts both ways, because at 38 years old and now coming off a serious knee injury, “Hitman” is nearing the end of his storied career.

Eleven years his junior, Kitano aims to use his youth and athleticism, coupled with his dynamic kicking game, to take out the legend and rocket himself up the bantamweight Muay Thai ranks:

“I think my kicking game is an advantage since I’ve been doing Muay Thai for so long. I’m younger, so I have the stamina advantage if I train properly. I’m making sure his longer career doesn’t let him make up for that.”

Kitano Eager To Showcase ‘The Strength Of Japanese Fighters’

Katsuki Kitano has made it no small secret that his matchup with Liam Harrison represents the biggest opportunity of his career so far.

With that in mind, he looks to make the most of it with a highlight-reel stoppage:

“I have to get the KO. That will really put my name out there. I’m going for the knockout.”

“Bong” is joined on the card by fellow Japanese superstar Masaaki Noiri, who will be making his highly anticipated promotional debut against Thai icon Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong.

Noiri’s debut and Kitano’s high-profile showdown with Harrison will offer a chance for the Japanese strikers to prove themselves on the global stage at a massive U.S. primetime event.

For his part, Kitano is embracing the moment and hopes to make his nation proud:

“I want to show the world the strength of Japanese fighters. And also that I’m different from other Japanese fighters – don’t underestimate me. I want people to see that this Japanese fighter is different.”

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