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‘No Face’ looks for recognition

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Kotetsu Boku of Japan throws a punch at Brazil’s Zorobabel Moreira during their ONE FC Lightweight title fight in Singapore on October 6, 2012. Boku will try to defend his title in Singapore on April 5. ONEFC.COM

Kotetsu Boku is the ONE FC World Lightweight champion but he still believes that he will not get the recognition he deserves until he beats the most famous MMA fighter in Japan, Shinya Aoki, in the main event of ONE FC’s April 5 fight night “Kings & Champions” in Singapore.

The man known as “No Face” is relishing the opportunity to send a statement to the entire MMA world by beating his compatriot and former DREAM Lightweight Champion.

“I have fought on the same card as Aoki before but always his fight was above mine,” Boku told the Post. “Even when I fought for the title for ONE FC, he was main event and I was before him. But now we are fighting each other and he cannot take attention away from me if I am the winner.”

Boku looked in danger of being overwhelmed in his last fight by the length and reach of Zorobabel Moreira. It seemed only a matter of time until he was unable to withstand the Brazilian’s repeated leg kicks which left him visibly wincing, but Boku turned the entire fight on its head early in the third round.

An overhand right landed square on the chin of Moreira, who in a split second went from being the aggressor to needing the referee to step in and save him as, dazed and disorientated, he attempted to grab onto the cage for support.

For Boku, this was the high point of a career which began in 2001 and has been spent largely with the Shooto organisation in Japan.

“Yes, this was the best moment for me because ONE FC is the biggest organisation in Asia and is signing all the best fighters, so to be the champion means I can say, ‘I am the best in Asia.’ I was even more happy because for a long time in that fight, it felt like I was not going to win.”

Despite being a veteran of 28 bouts, Boku had never previously fought outside of Japan but says he enjoyed the experience of travelling to Singapore to fight at ONE FC: Rise of Kings last October.

“I have fought some foreign fighters in my career but before ONE FC I had never fought in a new country. The experience was very good for me. It is a very professional organisation who take care of everything, and I am very relaxed about fighting in Singapore again because I know what to expect now.”

With ONE FC expanding rapidly and expected to put on further events in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong and Tokyo before the end of the year, there should be plenty more opportunities for Boku to compete of foreign turf.

“If I am champion of ONE FC then I am sure I will get big fights, and I would like to go to some more new countries because I enjoyed myself very much in Singapore. It is a very beautiful place and people are very friendly,” he said.

“First I must defeat Aoki. If I am the champion then there will always be new fights and new opponents waiting for me.”

Aoki is also coming off a win that came courtesy of an overhand right, against Antonio McKee on New Year’s Eve, which Boku saw but claims he is not too concerned about his opponent’s striking.

“His striking is maybe better than it was before but he is still a ground fighter and I am sure that his plan will be to submit me in this fight,” Boku said.

“I do not win many fights by submission but I have a lot of belief in the power of my punching. I know I can knock any opponent out, and I plan to knock out Aoki. If I can land one of my power punches than the fight will be over immediately.”

Despite being the champion, Boku will be the underdog against fan-favourite Aoki, but the 35-year-old is determined to prove himself on the biggest of stages.

“First I became champion of ONE FC and that was a very important moment for my career, but maybe some people think I am lucky or that I do not deserve the belt? If I beat Aoki then no one can say that I do not deserve to be champion of ONE FC and of Asia. After I knock him out, everyone will know my name.”

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