Exclusive: Hiroki Akimoto believes he “can dominate” Jonathan Haggerty and reclaim kickboxing crown

By BJPENN.COM Staff - December 5, 2023

Hiroki Akimoto makes it no secret that he is on a mission to recapture the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title.

Hiroki Akimoto

ONE X in March 2022 marked a significant moment in his career when he took the belt from Capitan Petchyindee. However, his success didn’t last long as a split-decision loss to Petchtanong Petchfergus eight months later left Akimoto without the crown he had fought so hard to claim.

Akimoto sought a chance to avenge his defeat in a rematch with Petchtanong. But fate intervened in a surprising turn of events.

This past July, ONE Championship stripped the Thai star of the belt and imposed a one-year ban after he tested positive for prohibited substances.

In the aftermath of Petchtanong’s suspension, the title was left vacant. A showdown between bantamweight Muay Thai titlist Jonathan Haggerty and divisional MMA king Fabricio Andrade then took place to determine the next champion, leaving Akimoto on the sidelines.

“I was wondering why they didn’t offer me the fight. I should have been the one to fight in that match,” Akimoto said.

At ONE Fight Night 16 on Prime Video on November 3, Haggerty emerged victorious with a second-round knockout to walk away with 26 pounds of gold.

As Haggerty celebrated being the latest two-sport ONE World Champion, Akimoto immediately felt the need to call out the Englishman.

“It’s true that [Haggerty] is currently the bantamweight kickboxing champion in ONE Championship. However, I want to defeat him and prove that I am the true champion,” the #1-ranked contender said.

Should Akimoto be granted the chance to face Haggerty for the title, he exudes confidence in his ability to offset the Englishman’s strengths.

“I think [Haggerty] is an excellent Muay Thai striker. He specializes in unorthodox rhythms and attacks. But I can dominate the match with my speed and powerful kicks,” Akimoto said.

Hiroki Akimoto intends to return to training at Evolve MMA

Hiroki Akimoto knows that preparation is key for an opponent of Jonathan Haggerty’s caliber.

If given the chance, he intends to set up camp at his second home — the world-renowned Evolve MMA in Singapore.

“I have no confirmed plans to return yet, but I want to train at Evolve MMA again, and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone again,” he said.

For Akimoto, Evolve MMA is not just a gym; it’s a sanctuary of knowledge and expertise. The coaches have been instrumental in his growth as a kickboxer.

With their guidance, Akimoto is confident that he can navigate the challenges posed by Haggerty.

“Evolve MMA has many specialists in various disciplines, and they provide me with a lot of knowledge,” he said.

“I can beat [Haggerty]. I will continue to aim for the top of the world as a fighter.”

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


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