John “Hands of Stone” Lineker is on a crusade to silence the critics, and he’ll get his chance on Friday, February 24.
The former ONE bantamweight world champion will face his rival and #1-ranked contender Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade for the division’s vacant title in the main event of ONE Fight Night 7, which emanates from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
The hotly anticipated rematch between the compatriots stems back to last October’s meeting at ONE Fight Night 3, where the expectations of a bantamweight barn burner were firmly being exceeded.
That was until an accidental strike to Lineker’s groin forced an unsatisfying end to a fight in full flow – a strike so hard that it broke the Brazilian brawler’s cup in two.
But while the contest was raging on, many believe Lineker’s 25-year-old arch nemesis was beginning to get the better of him.
“Hands of Stone,” however, insists he was nowhere near beaten.
“I watched my fight against him again. Inside the cage, it’s one thing. The fact is that I let him land a lot of jabs, which ended up hurting my face a lot. I wasn’t feeling his punches so much. I wasn’t afraid of his punches, so I took those jabs and ended up getting a pretty bruised face,” Lineker said.
“Other than that, the only thing that hurt was the knee to the rib, and then he landed the knee in my groin. If it weren’t for that illegal move, he would have had to fight me for five rounds. And it would have been a war until the end.”
While Andrade may have looked like he was in control during the bout’s final moments last October, the 36-year-old offered a good account of himself, too.
Lineker swung for the fences relentlessly against his fellow Brazilian scrapper, even putting “Wonder Boy” on his back to provide his youthful opponent his toughest test yet.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and “Hands of Stone” thinks the lessons he learned will pay dividends and be the key to reclaiming the vacant ONE bantamweight world title at ONE Fight Night 7.
“I certainly noticed some gaps in his game. I also noticed his strengths. So, in some way, it will help, and I certainly won’t take as many hits as I did in the last fight. So, the fact that I’ve already fought him, I believe it can help with some aspects of the fight, like his movement and attacks,” Lineker assessed.
“This fight will show that he didn’t beat me and that he wasn’t the one who took my belt. But like I said, neither of us has anything to prove. We’re going to enter the cage, and do our best. In the end, we’ll see who will leave with their arms raised.”