After hammering his way through Arjan Bhullar this past weekend, Anatoly Malykhin can now call himself the undisputed ONE heavyweight world champion.
“Sladkiy” served his returning foe all he could take last Friday, 23rd June, in the main event of ONE Friday Fights 22 card inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, and his third-round knockout win marks a new era in the realm of the heaviest hitters – one that many will welcome.
Malykhin painted a beautiful picture en route to his crowning moment, peppering Bhullar’s head and body with enough shots to force the defending divisional king to fold.
When he did, the interim titleholder instinctively followed up with a multitude of right hands on the mat that forced the referee to intervene.
ONE’s heavyweight division had been at somewhat of a standstill at the top up until Friday night’s main event. Bhullar clinched the world title at ONE: Dangal in May 2021 but then went on an extended hiatus from competition, leaving fans and fighters to wonder what the future held.
In Malykhin, the growing weight bracket will have a king that will reign in almost the exact opposite fashion to Bhullar. The Russian powerhouse has competed five times since his debut in 2021, and he has no plans to slow down.
The elongated period of time between Bhullar’s world title win and first defense has seen a litany of new heavyweight contenders emerge, like Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida and “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane, who will go to battle at ONE Fight Night 13 in August.
Their meeting may crown the next world title contender, but if one doesn’t emerge from that fight, a more free-flowing heavyweight division topped off with a world champion that wants to make the walk on a regular basis is guaranteed all the same.
Malykhin also holds the light heavyweight crown and has made it clear he wants to go for a third strap too. So, his win on Friday night won’t just breathe new life into just one division, but it also has the potential to affect a multitude of categories at Asia’s largest sports property.