Cambodian kickboxing legend Keo Rumchong has expressed his hopes that Kan Meng Hong will claim victory at this weekend’s K-1 World MAX 2024 – World Championship Tournament Final, in Tokyo, Japan.

Meng Hong is scheduled to take on Japanese fighter Akihiro Kaneko in the Super Bantamweight 55 kg world champ quarterfinals on July 7.

Rumchong, who attended the K-1 World Championships in Tokyo, Japan in 2020 and defeated a Japanese fighter, explained how the kickboxing rules of the K-1 championship will suit the young fighter.

Matches are contested over three rounds, and elbow strikes are banned, as are head butts or grappling moves.

The wily veteran boxer sees the rules as suited to Meng Hong, who is a particularly agile fighter.

He noted that Meng Hong claimed a kickboxing silver medal at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam in 2022.

Keo Roomchang, who is also one of Kan Meng Hong's assistant coaches, stated: 

“I think Meng Hong will claim victory. He trains hard and is as agile as a monkey, so he can get inside an opponent and strike very fast. I hope he wins and brings victory to the motherland,” said Rumchong, who is one of the younger fighter’s assistant coaches.

Kan Meng Hong and his delegation pose for a photograph at Phnom Penh International Airport, ahead of their departure for Japan on July 4. Supplied

He shared his confidence with the media as he accompanied Meng Hong to Phnom Penh International Airport on July 4. Meng Hong and his delegation have now arrived in Tokyo to prepare for Sunday’s bout.

Eight boxers are set to be matched up with a Japanese fighter in this weekend’s quarterfinals. According to the match schedule, while Meng Hong will face Kaneko, Greece's Angelos Martinos will meet Riamu. Spain's Antonio Orden is matched with Masashi Kumura and China's Zhao Zhendong will encounter Rui Okubo.

The winners will advance to the finals, which will take place in Tokyo on September 29. 

This weekend’s event also features several other international matches.

“As a professional fighter, I am pleased that I have the chance to compete in K-1. I never thought fighting would take overseas so much, especially not to Japan, which has always been a dream of mine,” Meng Hong told the media as he prepared to board his flight.

The 22-year-old also shared his concerns about his Japanese opponent, noting that he is one of the leading figures in the K-1 55kg weight class.

Aged 27, Akihiro Kaneko began fighting professionally in 2014, and has a record of 35 wins and 3 losses. In the course of his career he has captured three major belts: The 2018 Krush Bantamweight title, the 2022 K-1 Super Bantamweight and the 2022 K-1 World GP Super Bantamweight, adding them to the four titles he claimed as an amateur.

“I have a few concerns about him, because he is good. He can hit very quickly and he is a very heavy striker,” said Meng Hong.

However, Meng Hong has been following K-1 fights since before he was a fighter, and has a very clear understanding of the rules. This knowledge has given him the self-belief he needs.

“I have learned a lot about my opponent’s technique and I am 60 per cent confident of returning home with a victory,” he said.