“Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong has always made it a goal to show the world what Chinese martial artists are made of.
The #3-ranked bantamweight kickboxing contender will get his next chance to do so against Japanese star Hiroki Akimoto in the main event at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II, a previously recorded event from Singapore that airs this Friday, 16 October.
The 22-year-old will be in for a tough test against Akimoto, a WFKO Karate World Champion who owns a 21-1 professional kickboxing record. So, “Muay Thai Boy” is working extra hard on the factors that he believes will make the biggest difference in this ONE Super Series kickboxing bantamweight clash.
“Physical fitness is definitely a must because physical fitness is important in every fight,” Zhang says. “Think about it: to win, you must have physical fitness. And the second is critical – boxing.”
The combination of those two strengths earned “Muay Thai Boy” three consecutive wins in The Home Of Martial Arts.
First, he defeated Kong Sambo by split decision at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS in February 2019. That victory was largely due to his boxing and cardio, as Zhang never slowed down and pelted Kong from the outside with southpaw right jabs and straight lefts.
Three months later, he scored a unanimous decision win over Panicos Yusuf at ONE: WARRIORS OF LIGHT. Though the Cypriot kept it competitive in the opening two stanzas, Zhang knocked him down twice with his powerful punches in the final frame and earned the judges’ decision after three hard-fought rounds.
The Shenzhen, China native then achieved his most impressive victory at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST in June 2019, where he knocked out Tyler Hardcastle with a lunging right hand that crumpled the Australian in the bout’s first two minutes.
But after that 3-0 start to his ONE Super Series career, Zhang met his toughest opponent yet at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS last December. There, he dropped a decision to Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov, who claimed the inaugural ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship.
Now, the Shengli Fight Club representative will try to put himself back into World Title contention by defeating Akimoto, who holds wins over the likes of Kenny “The Pitbull” Tse and recent ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Title challenger Josh “Timebomb” Tonna.
But Zhang is looking to do more than further his case for another shot at Ramazanov. The Shenzhen resident also hopes to prove that his country belongs on the global stage – and that it can compete with the very best.
“I want to show the truth to the world, the essence of Chinese martial arts, to show the spirit of the Chinese fighter,” Zhang says. “That spirit is worth carrying forward.”
It’s the spirit that Zhang believes will carry him to a decisive victory inside the Circle on Friday night.
“I hope to KO my opponent,” he says. “In other words, I definitely hope that it will end as soon as possible.”