Anatoly Malykhin will be keeping an eye on one fight in particular next week. Kang Ji Won is set to face Ben Tynan in a heavyweight fight which could well turn out to be a title eliminator.
Malykhin currently holds the heavyweight title so he will be more interested than most when the two men face off at ONE Fight Night 16. It will probably be his first glimpse at Tynan who will be fighting in Asia for the very first time.
But Malykhin has been following Kang’s career for a long time and is impressed by what he has seen of the Korean,
“I love this Korean. He is a heavyweight and he always knows how to knock out his opponents unexpectedly.”
Kang Ji Won 🇰🇷 FLOORS Paul Elliott with a massive straight right for his third knockout in ONE! 👊 #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship#ONEX | PPV: 8PM SGT/8AM ET | Order PPV: https://t.co/eBUfsODAFL pic.twitter.com/J7Qj1b4eYy
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 26, 2022
If Kang can secure his fourth ONE Championship win then he could be next in line for a shot at the heavyweight title. Malykhin clearly doesn’t see the 28 year old as a rival just now.
The Russian says that he will be cheering for Kang at Lumpinee Stadium next week,
“In general, he is very kind. We always support each other before fights and write encouraging messages to each other. I am very happy that he will fight on this card. I will be happy to come and watch to support him.”
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 5, 2021
Malykhin’s last fight was a grudge match. Him and Arjan Bhullar spent several months exchanging insults on social media before finally facing off in the actual ring at ONE Friday Fights 22.
Malykhin unified the heavyweight titles with a stoppage win that night. He will return to the scene of his most famous victory to support Tiger Muay Thai teammate Fabricio Andrade next Saturday.
Andrade is challenging Jonathan Haggerty for the vacant bantamweight kickboxing belt. If Kang wins then he would probably move into pole position for a shot at Malykhin and the heavyweight belt.
While it doesn’t sound as if the champion has even contemplated the possibility of facing a challenger who he believes is ‘a nice guy’ Malykhin fully expects Kang to win next weekend,
“Kang is the dark horse of our heavyweight division. Everybody always thinks that he has the appearance of such a nice guy, a guy who can’t hurt you, but in the end, he drops everybody. So I think in this fight he will KO his opponent.”
If Kang does win then a title shot seems inevitable. Malykhin would be unlikely to cut any videos of himself chasing chickens around ahead of this one but it would pit the two hardest hitters in the division together.