Team Lakay kicked the year off in style as rising star Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang scored a massive knockout of Japan’s Namiki Kawahara.
Adiwang stopped Kawahara at the 2:02 mark of round two of their strawweight clash at ONE: UNBREAKABLE last 22 January in Singapore. It was a highly competitive fight until the finish, with both men having their moments.
Kawahara proved to be a worthy opponent for Adiwang. Watching from Circle-side, Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao observed what he saw from a distance, and he was overall very pleased with Adiwang’s knockout performance.
“It was a solid performance from Lito. I loved how explosive he was with his striking, and he clearly displayed why he’s such a dangerous fighter. He also had that extra bit of motivation and determination to bring the victory home for the Philippines, and to fight in honor of his mother,” said Sangiao.
“We just wanted to be comfortable there no matter where the fight went. If it was going to a striking battle, we were prepared. If it went to the ground, we would have been ready to submit him as well. We worked hard in the gym for all possible scenarios, and it paid off in the end.”
Adiwang employed his usual explosive style, as he attempted to barrel through Kawahara’s defenses early on. The latter’s wide stance from the Karate style, however, proved slightly problematic for “Thunder Kid,” as it became increasingly difficult as the bout wore on to operate from range.
Oftentimes, Adiwang would swing for the fences, coming up short with nothing but air. According to Sangiao, this left him open for sharp counters. Clearly, Kawahara was not a fighter that Team Lakay wanted to take lightly.
Still, Sangiao remained confident his ward had enough firepower to eventually overwhelm the Japanese standout.
“Kawahara is also a great fighter, no doubt about that. He was calm and composed throughout, and he wasn’t fazed by Lito’s power at all. He had a good counter shot that just cannot be underestimated. Lito needed to be extra cautious and apply his kicking, punch accuracy and speed. We tried to attack with punches from a safe distance,” said Sangiao.
“But the thing is, if Lito touches you, you’re going down. Not many people can survive his power. And he can finish you in many different ways. After Lito touched him on the chin, it was lights out. One shot is all it takes.”
It was a fantastic turnaround for Adiwang, who late last year dealt with his first loss inside the ONE Circle last November, and the passing of his mother, Leticia. Being a guiding voice in Adiwang’s corner, Sangiao tried his best to settle his fighter’s mind before the battle ensued.
“I told him to stay calm and composed, and just focus on striking accurately from the outside, not to get too wild and careless. As always, we look for every opportunity for the takedown, if the situation will call for it. Lito is very good with his submissions. I don’t think anyone wants to go to the ground with him,” said Sangiao.
“2020 was definitely a trying year for Lito. It wasn’t easy. But I think he will be much more focused this year, and he will be more consistent with his training. He is very motivated right now, and very driven. The challenges he faced last year in and out of the Circle has made him a lot stronger as a fighter and as a person. He wants the biggest challenges he can get now.”