Late last year, Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang experienced his first loss in ONE Championship. And just two days before the new year began, he tragically lost his mother.
After that turbulent end to 2020, the Filipino star will try to start 2021 on a better note.
“I really wanted this. I am very hungry to come back and get a win,” Adiwang said. “At least if I win this one, maybe I can ask for a rematch from [Hiroba] Minowa.”
Adiwang dropped that split decision to Minowa in November after earning two first-round victories in the promotion. Now, he’s hoping to show fans that his loss was a fluke.
“I have to prove that I only had an off-night against Minowa,” Adiwang said.
“I made a lot of mistakes back in that match, like in my preparation and weight management for example – that’s the reason why I wasn’t able to perform to what’s expected of me and what I wanted to do.
“At least I learned from that match, and I was able to see the things that I need to improve on.”
Adiwang has been working diligently to prepare for this fight, but it hasn’t been easy. The Team Lakay standout was initially set to face “Wolf Of The Grasslands” Hexigetu, but the Chinese star was forced to pull out after his province went into lockdown.
In his place stepped Kawahara, and Adiwang was forced to change his strategy.
“I think we’re going to adjust heavily here. Now, we’re tweaking our game plan,” the Filipino said.
“When we were preparing for Hexigetu, we knew he’s a wrestler with good boxing, but we expected to have a height advantage, so I was really preparing on how he might come in.
“Now against Kawahara, he’s the exact opposite. He’s more of a striker, but he’s taller than me. However, I am confident that if it stays on the feet, I’m at an advantage. I just have to focus on his point of attack and be accurate with my counters.”
If he can do that and get the win, Adiwang may be a busy man this year. And that’s exactly what he and his team are banking on as they prepare for this career-defining moment.
“Here in the camp, we just talk about one thing – that’s to bounce back,” Adiwang said.
“The pressure is on. Yes, I know I have to prove myself to the world and earn people’s respect. I’m working on that.”
He’s also working on getting his name back into the top-five strawweight rankings, where he occupied the #5 spot before losing to Minowa.
“Hopefully, ONE will give us a lot of fights. If that happens, I’ll do my best to get all the wins I can so I can see myself being a top contender by the end of the year,“ Adiwang said.
“However, I’ll wait for my chances because Joshua is still the champion. I just want to put my name among the top and now, I’ll be building on it. By the end of 2021, I want to be there.”
Catch Adiwang versus Kawahara at ONE: UNBREAKABLE at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Friday, 22, January, on meWATCH of the ONE Super App at 8:30 p.m. Singapore Standard Time (SGT).
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