It was not an ideal end to 2020 for Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang.
The Team Lakay athlete saw his seven-bout winning run snapped by a close split-decision loss to Hiroba Minowa at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III in November. More tragically, Adiwang saw his mom, Leticia, succumb to her illness in late December.
With that difficult year finally behind him, the Filipino star is more motivated than ever to achieve his dreams and honor his late mother. He will get a chance to move forward this Friday, 22 January, when he takes on Namiki Kawahara at ONE: UNBREAKABLE in Singapore.
“I really wanted this. I am very hungry to come back and get a win,” Adiwang says. “At least if I win this one, maybe I can ask for a rematch from Minowa.”
When he steps inside the Circle, “Thunder Kid” will have an opportunity to channel his frustration and sadness into something productive.
“I have to prove that I only had an off-night against Minowa,” Adiwang continues.
“I made a lot of mistakes back in that match, like in my preparation and weight management for example – that’s the reason why I wasn’t able to perform to what’s expected of me and what I wanted to do.
“At least I learned from that match, and I was able to see the things that I need to improve on.”
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Adiwang was originally scheduled to face Chinese star “Wolf of the Grasslands” Hexigetu this Friday, but after the latter was forced to withdraw, in stepped Japanese Mixed Martial Arts Champion Kawahara.
The 27-year-old Filipino admits that facing a new opponent on short notice can make preparations more difficult, but he’s not complaining. Instead, he understands that such is the life of an athlete, and he vows to be ready.
“I think we’re going to adjust heavily here. Now, we’re tweaking our game plan,” Adiwang says.
“When we were preparing for Hexigetu, we knew he’s a wrestler with good boxing, but we expected to have a height advantage, so I was really preparing on how he might come in.
“Now against Kawahara, he’s the exact opposite. He’s more of a striker, but he’s taller than me. However, I am confident that if it stays on the feet, I’m at an advantage. I just have to focus on his point of attack and be accurate with my counters.”
With his urge to quickly put his recent misfortunes behind him, Adiwang jumped at the chance to compete in ONE Championship’s first show of the year.
He knows that a win wouldn’t only affect his personal status – it would also be a welcome boost for Team Lakay, which struggled as a whole in the latter part of 2020.
“Here in the camp, we just talk about one thing – that’s to bounce back,” Adiwang says. “We will bounce back this year, we’ll work on our mistakes – especially the reasons why we lost in our previous matches.
“The pressure is on. Yes, I know I have to prove myself to the world and earn people’s respect. I’m working on that.”
The goal for “Thunder Kid” has always been to reach the top of his division alongside teammate and reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio.
For now, an impressive performance this Friday would certainly point him in the right direction.
“I see myself racking up a few wins this year,” Adiwang adds.
“Hopefully, ONE will give us a lot of fights. If that happens, I’ll do my best to get all the wins I can so I can see myself being a top contender by the end of the year.
“However, I’ll wait for my chances because Joshua is still the champion. I just want to put my name among the top and now, I’ll be building on it. By the end of 2021, I want to be there.”