Roman Kryklia Vs. Iraj Azizpour III Named ONE’s 2022 Kickboxing Fight Of The Year
Roman Kryklia and Iraj Azizpour’s trilogy battle at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong provided kickboxing fans with a striking fiesta filled with intensity, drama, knockdowns, and a highlight-reel knockout.
Fittingly, their ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final clash was named ONE’s 2022 Kickboxing Fight of the Year.
Having already competed against each other twice with one win apiece, the pair of elite strikers were hell-bent on going one-up against their rival, and the rubber match on Saturday, November 19 saw both heavyweights enjoy spells of dominance until the insane finish.
It was Azizpour who dazzled with his mix of calmness and aggression in the opening frame at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
First, the Tehran native lured Kryklia into his range. Azizpour waited patiently as the Ukrainian took the bait and connected with kicks and punches. But every time Kryklia got close, the Iranian turned up the heat and unloaded like a house on fire.
Azizpour eventually dropped the light heavyweight kickboxing king with an overhand right counter for the first knockdown of the match. Kryklia instantly got back up, but once again found himself in a tight situation against Azizpour’s thumping attacks before the end of the round.
The Iranian went back to his corner with plenty of confidence, as if he was ready to let all hell break loose in the next round. Kryklia, on the other hand, looked like he was still in shock.
But what unfolded in round two was a clear reminder of why you should never count Kryklia out.
The 31-year-old alternated targets, using his jabs to set up straight rights on Azizpour’s midsection. At the same time, he maintained a high guard to protect himself from the Iranian’s attacks.
As the round progressed, the towering Ukrainian continued to out-trick his rival. Azizpour was forced to drop his guard to protect his stomach. Kryklia took advantage of this, aiming high and unloading huge overhands, hooks, and knees.
Azizpour couldn’t do much but absorb tons of damage, until a knee, left hook, and overhand right dropped him.
The 34-year-old narrowly answered the count, but as soon as referee Elias Dolaptsis waved for the match to resume, the ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion stormed forward with a final salvo of shots.
This barrage forced the official to step in at 1:28 of the second frame to put an end to Azizpour’s misery.
Kryklia was crowned the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Champion and bagged a US$50,000 performance bonus for his sweet finish. However, Azizpour also showed his class with his strong opening round.
The exciting, back-and-forth fight was a thrill for as long as it lasted, so it’s no surprise that it earned ONE’s 2022 Kickboxing Fight of the Year accolade.