When he meets two-division ONE World Champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang for the middleweight crown in a rematch at ONE: A NEW ERA in his native Tokyo, Japan, he will put everything on the line to emerge victorious.
“I’ll risk my life in this match,” Hasegawa states ahead of their second encounter on Sunday, 31 March.
“Redemption is exactly what I’m looking for. I lost in his home last time. I want to make up for it next time in front of my fans in Japan.”
Their initial battle at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR in Yangon, Myanmar last June was an epic back-and-forth contest that ended in the depths of the final round.
Both athletes were exhausted, but they were still giving it their all and moved forward in search of a dramatic finish. With less than two minutes remaining in the main-event clash, “The Burmese Python” connected with the bout-clinching uppercut to secure the knockout win.
Aung La N Sang retained the ONE Middleweight World Title and dashed his Japanese rival’s hopes of claiming the most illustrious prize in the sport.
However, the Yokohama native’s heroism earned him a rematch, and he has taken lessons from that memorable night at the Thuwuna Indoor Stadium into his training camp.
“I’m happy that the match was praised by people, but I was disappointed that I lost,” the 32-year-old admits.
“It was a five-round match and I fought like [it was] a three-round match, but it didn’t end in round three. I kept hitting the gas. I got punched, and I punched [back]. The match kept going like that. It was tough.
“I started preparing for a five-round match right after the last one. I’ve been working on it for the rematch.”
A career-threatening injury caused Ken Hasegawa to hit rock bottom. How did he rise up and challenge for ONE gold?Yangon | 29 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onespirit18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, June 19, 2018
When they square off in the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hasegawa will be 100 percent ready and this time, nothing will surprise him.
Aung La N Sang‘s heart and will to win in front of the Yangon masses was indomitable — and a surprise to the challenger. But now, the roles are reversed, and the Japanese warrior has the fans on his side.
This is his opportunity to shake the tag of the valiant runner-up.
The Yokohama resident knows he has the physical skills and mental fortitude to become the World Champion, and buoyed by his countrymen in ONE’s biggest martial arts showcase yet, he vows he will not be broken.
“It’s very important for me to win the title in Tokyo,” the third-degree judo black belt says.
“I’m thinking, ‘Is there anything that is more important than this in my life?’
“Aung La N Sang is a champion who I respect. We’re friends, but I will put our friendship on the side. I will go to beat him.”
Fans are excited about the prospect of witnessing another five-round war, and rightfully so.
Hasegawa is just as excited to get a second crack at the ONE Middleweight World Title, but if he has it his way, there will be a vastly different result.
“If I can be greedy, then I want to win in round one. I want the KO as soon as possible,” he says. “But you know, I feel that it’s going to be a long one again.”