The Japanese-South Korean athlete scored a stunning first-round knockout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium against Sherif “The Shark” Mohamed to make headlines around the world and supercharge his run in The Home Of Martial Arts.
Despite his quick and spectacular finish, Akiyama did not have things all his own way as he was caught by a hard punch from his rival in the opening exchanges.
Mohamed came out of his corner at the start of the bout with an aggressive game plan, and Akiyama admits that he had to re-think his strategy on the fly because striking off the back foot was not part of the plan.
“No, not at all, it was the opposite – I trained nothing but me pressing forward looking to connect,” he explains.
Thanks to a lifetime of martial arts experience, “Sexy Yama” was able to adjust and use “The Shark’s” aggression to his advantage. He stayed cool and clear of danger while he waited for the perfect opportunity to strike, and when it came, he made no mistake.
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“Honestly, I didn’t predict him coming out with as much forward pressure as he did,” he adds.
“I wasn’t particularly looking for the counter, but I thought I should try it. He came out strong and I managed to catch him as I was going back.
“Distance is a very important thing, so I made sure not to get too close because that leads to trouble.”
Akiyama’s approach to the match was calculated and cerebral, and he has continued to analyze his performance since his return home.
Even after so long at the highest level of his sport, he believes he has some things to work on for his next contest, and he believes that will give fans something to look forward to when he returns.
“For me, I felt that I found something lacking in my movement this time,” he says.
“I thought that I wasn’t fast enough, so next time I want to show an even faster ‘Sexy Yama!’”
When Akiyama does return to action, it could be against another world-renowned competitor who has a similar appetite for putting on a show – if he gets his way.
Plus, if everything goes according to plan for the K-1 HERO’S Grand Prix Champion, he will be back as soon as possible for this potential super-bout.
“The match is done, so I want to get moving towards the next one quickly. At the moment, because of the effects of the coronavirus, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but regardless of that, I would like to fight again soon.
“Now, I’m at welterweight, but I’m thinking of giving lightweight a go, so maybe a lightweight fighter. I feel that I’d like to face Eddie Alvarez.
“I can’t really cut weight, so even a catch weight bout next – at some weight between lightweight and welterweight – would be good.”