Nieky “The Natural” Holzken has thrown everything into his training to redeem himself in a rematch of one of 2019’s most explosive ONE Super Series bouts.
On Friday, 25 October, the Dutch kickboxing legend will face Regian “The Immortal” Eersel for the second time for the ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Title.
Though the 35-year-old from Helmond fell short the first time around, he is sure he will not make the same mistakes that saw his dream of winning gold on the global stage slip through his fingers.
The first bout between these two men was one of the best of 2019 so far – a five-round battle at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON that saw the momentum shift back and forth as power shots were unleashed at a startling rate.
“I think we make a very good fight for the audience of ONE Championship,” Holzken says.
“Everybody was talking about it, and everybody wants to see the rematch. I just think we gave our fight to the audience, and we’re gonna do it again on 25 October.”
“The Natural” was happy to put on a show in May, but he could not hide his disappointment with the result. He started strong, but he could not stop his rival from finding his rhythm and gaining the upper hand.
Not even Holzken can deny that Eersel deserved to get the win on the judges’ cards, but he is quick to point out that he was never out of the running. Even when he hit the canvas after a flying knee landed flush on his chin, he did not stay down.
“He hit me with a body shot with a knee, and yeah, it was a good knee, so I had to recover, but I was still standing,” he says.
“I stood up after the eight-count and I finished the round, and then the fifth round started, and I was the better man again. I think I won the whole round.”
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“The Natural” seemed to hurt his opposite number with a hard body blow in the closing moments of the contest, but he could not find the finish he needed to rescue the match for himself.
However, on another night, he believes it could have been a different story, and there were enough positives to take away to tell him he may have Eersel’s number with a couple of adjustments.
“I had a couple of good combinations, I had spinning back-kicks, I had jumping knees, I had a left high kick, and I had good low kicks,” he remembers.
“Everything I landed was very good, but it was not on the right spot or at the right moment to knock him out.”
This time, he believes, things will be different.
The multiple-time kickboxing World Champion says he is primed to go harder, faster, and stronger inside the Istora Senayan, so fans should be prepared to occupy the edge of their seats again.
“I have trained very, very hard, and I’m even sharper than I was in my last fight,” he says.
“I want to have better conditioning and more explosiveness, and that’s what I trained for. He knows what [I bring] and I know what I can expect from him, so it’s going to be a hell of a fight again.”
Holzken believes he should have knocked out “The Immortal” in their first contest, and he thinks he has a good chance the second time around if he attacks the body.
He also knows the ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Champion will not surrender the gold easily, but he feels good about his chances.
“I feel much much more confident and better than the last time – much better,” he adds.
“I’m not so much of a talker, but I’m coming.”