Tagir Khalilov wants to ensure he’s got a complete arsenal before he takes on the biggest challenge of his career.
The Russian slugger will take on ONE flyweight kickboxing world champion Superlek Kiatmoo9 in a Muay Thai bout at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video this July 14 at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
Heading into such a crucial matchup, Khalilov is trading leather with some of the most lethal strikers at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket.
Khalilov told ONE Championship in an interview that he regularly spars with fellow knockout artist Felipe Lobo during his preparation for Superlek.
“My sparring partner is also Felipe Lobo, who recently knocked out a very serious competitor, Saemapetch Fairtex. He helps me now, just like he did helping me during the previous fight camp.”
Lobo has faced the toughest competition possible in ONE Championship and even challenged then-world champion Nong-O Hama for the ONE bantamweight Muay Thai world title at ONE X.
Although he lost that world title bid, the Brazilian striker bounced back with a massive upset knockout win over former MTGP Muay Thai champion Saemapetch Fairtex at ONE Fight Night 9.
Khalilov, meanwhile, is on a string of two-straight first-round knockout wins over Chorfah Tor Sangtiennoi and Black Panther. With such strong momentum behind him, a win over Superlek could potentially launch Khalilov into a world title match against old foe Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
Khalilov faced Rodtang in a non-title match in his ONE Championship debut in February 2021. Rodtang was already the ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion at that time, but the bout was fought under kickboxing rules.
Although he was seen as a massive underdog against ‘The Iron Man’, Khalilov showed incredible heart before bowing to a split decision loss.
ONE Fight Night 12 is available live and free to all Prime Video subscribers in North America.