ONE Championship superstar Jonathan Haggerty assumed the bantamweight throne in the Muay Thai and kickboxing divisions last year. Now, as his 2024 campaign kicks off, the British striker is ready to defend them – and first up is Felipe Lobo at ONE Fight Night 19.
This world title tilt hasn’t come out of thin air. The pair have been eyeing each other since Lobo knocked out Saemapetch Fairtex last April.
Ahead of their Feb. 16 meeting, Haggerty reflected on how their rivalry began in an interview with ONE.
“When [Lobo] defeated Saemapetch, he was calling my name in the ring, and then he was in the back room after the fight calling my name, but I think his adrenaline must have died down because I didn’t hear anything from him since,” he said.
“I was sending him messages telling him, ‘Come on, and let’s have it.’ I was commenting on social media, trying to get him to bite, and he wasn’t coming back with anything, so I thought he must have lost his pen – he couldn’t put pen to paper.
“After I beat Andrade, he was in the corner, and I just told him straight, ‘You don’t want it.’ It’s not every day the champion is calling out a top contender. It should be the other way around. I just can’t wait to give him a beating. That’s all.”
Although there is some heat between them, respect for his foe is also paramount for “The General,” who is certain that Lobo deserves the first crack at his gold. That said, he believes his style will give him a decided edge and foresees another exciting finish for fans around the world.
“I feel like Felipe starts very slow, and he’s got a very Thai boxing style, but you can’t relax like that against me,” he professed.
“If you put it on him, he doesn’t like it, and he’s going to crumble. I bring that style where I’m going to put it on you until the bell goes, so I’m just wondering how he’s going to cope with my pressure and my strikes.
“He did great against Saemapetch. He came back from a knockdown and showed great heart and great determination, so this will be a great fight. But he won’t be getting back up after I hit him. That’s the difference.”
Although “The General” commanded ONE Championship’s bantamweight striking divisions in 2023, he wants to affirm his spot on the throne in 2024 with multiple title defenses.
That want is a big reason why he’ll be seeking to have an early night in Bangkok on February 16.
“I’m going to come out of the blocks explosive, find the shots early in round one, and hopefully find what I’m looking for to get the job done. I always prepare for a five-round fight, but if you can get it done in round one or round two, then why not,” Haggerty said.
“And I feel like I’m in his head. I’m 1-0 up against his training partner. I heard that Andrade gets the better of him in sparring. I’m not too sure how true that is, but if it is then, well, we’re going for round one.”
ONE Fight Night 19 airs live on Prime Video on Friday, Feb. 16. The action begins at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST. The event is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.
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