By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
ONE Championship rolls off its first offering this year on Friday, which includes a match featuring Filipino fighter Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang; a bout that one local fight analyst sees as a “high risk, great reward” kind for the Team Lakay stalwart.
Coming off a narrow split decision loss in his last fight in November, Mr. Adiwang (11-3) is looking to bounce back at “ONE: Unbreakable” at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the first event for the new year of Asia’s largest sports media property.
Mr. Adiwang is to face short-notice opponent and ONE-debuting Namiki Kawahara (6-3-2) of Japan in a three-round strawweight collision.
The Filipino was supposed to fight Japanese Hexigetu, but the latter was not able to secure his travel papers in time for the event, prompting ONE to put Mr. Kawahara as a replacement.
For local fight analyst Nissi Icasiano, the Kawahara fight will see Mr. Adiwang having his hands full, but a victory would surely benefit him in more ways than one.
“Adiwang has his hands full in this fight. Yes, Kawahara is just a short-notice replacement. But our Filipino bet should be on his toes and shouldn’t have any ounce of complacency because this Japanese will surely bring it to him. Kawahara has held a title under the banner of Deep and has shared the stage with vets and best up-and-comers in Japanese MMA. He is a well-rounded fighter and has knockout power and he is very much comfortable on the ground,” said Mr. Icasiano, also a host of Tiebreaker Vods’ The Hit List podcast, in an online interview with BusinessWorld.
“It’s a high-risk, great-reward kind of fight because this fight could earn him (Adiwang) a ticket back to the Top Five of his division,” he added.
But despite the challenge that awaits Mr. Adiwang in his ONE Circle return, Mr. Icasiano said the Team Lakay stalwart’s willingness to take it on and bring the goods should serve him well.
“The stake is much higher in this fight and I expect Adiwang to shine and reclaim his position in the strawweight bracket,” the analyst said.
ONE: Unbreakable is headlined by the ONE bantamweight kickboxing world championship clash between reigning champion Alaverdi Ramazanov of Russia and challenger Capitan Petchyindee Academy of Thailand.
Co-headliner is the lightweight mixed martial arts (MMA) battle between former champion Shinya Aoki of Japan and American James Nakashima.
Also on tap is Serbian heavyweight kickboxer Rade Opacic against Swiss Patrick Schmid; welterweight Zebaztian Kadestam of Sweden versus Gadzhimurad Abdulaev of Russia; and atomweights Meng Bo of China and Samara Santos of Brazil.
ONE Unbreakable will be broadcast live over One Sports and One Sports+ at 8:30 p.m. and an encore over TV5 at 11 p.m. on Jan. 23.