ONE Championship lead commentator and Fox Sports presenter Steve Dawson analyzes this compelling bout between two top lightweight contenders.
Top of the bill this Friday in Kuala Lumpur is Ev Ting against Kamal Shalorus, a lightweight fight that could very well prove to be a title eliminator for Eduard Folayang’s ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Shalorus has fought for the title before, but it didn’t go well for him, being a convincing first-round submission loss at the hands of Shinya Aoki via rear-naked choke.
Crucially though, Shalorus has a win over Folayang on his record, a unanimous decision back in 2013. He also has a victory over Ariel Sexton, who himself is nudging the leading contenders shoulder-to-shoulder, vying for a shot at the Filipino champ.
Ting’s claim to be Folayang’s next opponent — the champion fights on April’s Manila card but against an as-yet unnamed challenger — is more timely.
Since losing to the exquisite Marat Gafurov in mid-2015, the Kiwi of Malaysian descent has been on a tear. A first-round submission win over Honorio Banario looks even better now than it did at the time. It was followed up by a third-round submission of Eric Kelly. But the fight that really made the man was in September last year, when he battled hard to a unanimous decision over Rob Lisita.
Ting’s rise in the last 12 months has been steep, and at 27, he seems to have everything going for him. Four wins by submission, four by decision, and four by knockout is about as well-rounded as you can get, and this career-defining fight couldn’t come at a better time.
Shalorus has a very stiff left jab. It’s thrown sparingly but does damage, and Ting will need to be aware of that. The Iranian is also a high-level grappler but albeit against high-level opposition has only won by submission once.
The Iranian has never lost a decision, but at 39, his ability to edge opponents over the distance may have become compromised. Plus, it’s been over six years since Shalorus stopped anyone with punches, and Ting has never been knocked out.
The Kiwi’s preferred mode of stoppage these days is the guillotine choke, but as a converted featherweight, he may find the muscular Shalorus too strong to ragdoll. Although Lista was thoroughly beaten by Ting, he survived for the duration, and that may be a measure of how well-muscled lightweights will fare against his striking.
If Ting can pull off a win by strikes, it will be a phenomenal night for him. Any win inside the distance — where he doesn’t sustain an injury — will put him directly among the favorites for a title shot, next up in Manila.
I don’t see Shalorus being busy enough to win on points, and I do see Ting keeping sufficiently out of trouble while threatening a finish with big kicks upstairs.
It’s a good bet Eduard Folayang will be watching, and so will ONE matchmaker Matt Hume.
Steve Dawson is ONE Championship’s lead commentator, a Fox Sports presenter and an author of sporting biographies. He can be found on Twitter & Instagram as @Gulasahi and on Facebook as Steve Dawson.