John “Hands of Stone” Lineker looked worse for wear after his initial meeting with Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade, but he’s confident that it won’t happen again.
Lineker and Andrade initially met last October, where “Wonder Boy” tagged his compatriot with an inadvertent knee to the groin, forcing the referee to stop the match. Due to that incident, and the fact that Lineker was stripped of his ONE Bantamweight World Title for missing weight the day before the fight, the belt is still vacant.
With the title up for grabs in their rematch at ONE Fight Night 7 on 25 February at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, Lineker believes things are bound to be different this time around.
“I watched my fight against him again. Inside the cage, it’s one thing. Watching it on TV you have another vision,” Lineker said.
“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.”
While some thought Lineker found a way out with the illegal knee, “Hands of Stone” believes that things would’ve been different had they been allowed to fight until the end.
“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 wasn’t for that illegal move, he would have had to fight me for five rounds. And it would be a war until the end,” he said.
There’s a big difference between scouting from afar and feeling your opponent up close, and that’s exactly why Lineker now believes he has Andrade figured out.
“I noticed some gaps in [Andrade’s] 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,” he said.
“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.”
At the end of the day, Lineker feels that he wasn’t beaten, and the king of the bantamweight division has yet to be decided – now it’s all about getting back into the Circle and reclaiming his belt.
“This fight will show that he didn’t beat me, and that he wasn’t the one who took my belt,” he said.
“But like I said, none of us have anything to prove. We’re going to enter the cage, do our best, and in the end, we’ll see who will leave with their arms raised.”