Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao believes that the trilogy between Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki will settle the unfinished business between the two veteran fighters.
“1-1 na sina Shinya and Eduard (Shinya and Eduard have 1-1 record against each other) and [a] trilogy is nice to set the record straight,” Sangiao told the Manila Bulletin in a text message. “Though may last minute na adjustment na kailangan namin (Though there are last minute adjustments on our end), it’s all good and as I have mentioned, we are always very hopeful in any matches that we have.”
Japanese-Korean sensation Yoshihiro Akiyama, Folayang’s initial opponent, had pulled out of the ONE on TNT IV bout due to injuries while Sage Northcutt, Aoki’s original foe, had to withdraw due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The situation led to the much-awaited trilogy between Folayang, 36, and Aoki, 37. Sangiao admitted that he wasn’t expecting Aoki to be the replacement but understood the reason behind the sudden change of opponent.
Aoki, however, is in the winning column since October 2019 while Folayang is raring to recover from his losing streak, dropping four of his last five fights since March 2019 — the first rematch with Aoki.
Folayang (22-10) and Aoki (46-9) first clashed in the Circle in 2016 as the Igorot warrior pulled of a third-round technical knockout win over the Japanese great to capture the lightweight title.
The Team Lakay stalwart followed up the win with his first title defense against Malaysian-Kiwi Ev Ting in 2017 but was dethroned by Martin Nguyen later in the same year.
Folayang then hauled three wins in 2018 capped off by retaking the vacant belt against Amir Khan.
Aoki exacted revenge on Folayang by executing a first-round arm-triangle choke on the Filipino en route to the lightweight title in their first encounter in more than two years.
For the 42-year-old Sangiao, Team Lakay’s patriarch, the match will boil down to whoever has the latest arsenal up their sleeves.
“This will be the third time that Eduard and Aoki will face each other inside the circle. They know each other well – their strength and weakness. This time, mananalo yong may dalang bagong weapon and let’s see (This time, whoever has the new weapon will win and let’s see).”