Kazuki Osaki exemplified why he is one of the top pound-for-pound kickboxers on earth when he chopped down Aiman Lahmar earlier this month. Japan's Osaki extended his win streak to 19 in a row and advanced to the next round of the RISE World Series 2023 -54 KG Grand Prix predominately through the use of calf kicks.
Osaki began his professional career at merely 18 years old and cut his teeth in Muay Thai. After a few years, the Japanese-born striker put together a record of 17-1, remaining unbeaten between Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium before challenging for the Lumpinee Stadium title.
Since 2019, the 26-year-old kickboxer has put together an incredible 19-fight unbeaten streak and picked up the RISE Super Flyweight World Title along the way. In the RISE World Series 2023 Tournament, Osaki is looking to add more gold to his name.
In the opening round, he faced 18-year-old Aiman Lahmar. From the opening bell, the French-born kickboxer's gameplan was obvious; control the center of the ring and land punches in flurries. Lahmar was immediately aggressive and found Osaki’s chin, looking to surprise the more veteran fighter.
Kickboxing great Buakaw Banchamek taught his pupils that to gain an advantage in kicking, one must force their opponents to the ropes particularly when they are attempting to control the center. Buakaw explained, “Trap opponents until their back in against the ropes. Once their back is against the rope, we will attack easier." This is the fundamental that Osaki applied to apply in this fight.
Lahmar notably threw many jumping knees in attempts to split Osaki's guard and take advantage of Osaki's tendency to stand in the pocket.
Otherwise, he calmly poked Osaki's defense with jabs and teeps while mounting admirable offense of his own.
In the last half of round 1, Osaki started figuring out Lahmar's timing and exerted pressure without much resistance, cutting off the ring deftly and pushing him to the ropes. Lahmar was unable to keep Osaki off with longer weapons. It was clear Osaki had the edge on the inside.
In the second round, the Japanese fighter continued his assault, pushing Lahmar to the ropes again. From there, he landed a barrage of low-low kicks which signaled the start of the end. These appeared to be shin-to-shin strikes or calf kicks – incredibly painful and will always favor the fighter with better conditioned shins.
Once Osaki saw that Lahmar was hurt, he was relentless in attacking his opponent’s compromised leg. Despite Lahmar's poker face and occasional success going toe to toe with his opponent, he eventually folded to Osaki’s pressure, unable to deal with the aggressive punching whilst limping on one leg.
Osaki had previously shown his liking for calf kicks against Mangkon Boomdeksean at RISE 164 in January of this year. In that bout he similarly showcased an aggressive gameplan, using close range boxing, kicks up and down the legs, and knees.
Due to his ringman-ship and veteran savvy, Osaki advanced to the next round of the tournament. The pound-for-pound kickboxer will be back in the ring to meet Toki Tamaru on August 26.