His rapid progress was somewhat halted when he dropped the title to Ok Rae Yoon via decision last year, but he responded in the best possible way by reclaiming the gold immediately in August – this time he didn’t put things in the hands of the judges and relied on a barrage of knees to stop things in the second round.
The man who was born into a struggling family, his sister Angela is another ONE World Champion, is now ready – both mentally and physically – to gain weight and aim for another title.
“Going into this fight I feel like my cardio is better than ever,” he said. “I really feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in. I think it’s easy to make the mistake when moving up a weight class of just gaining size, putting on the extra weight, and then neglecting the cardio.
“I took some time to gain some extra weight so that when I ramped up the training and started my cardio, I would be able to be in the same shape that I was in fighting for the lightweight title , as I am going to be for the welterweight title.
Lee says this is the fight that makes sense and is confident of taking the title and then letting his body adjust to the move up to 185lbs.
“I think it’s been about two years [Abbasov] defended the welterweight title. I actively cleaned up the lightweight department. So at the moment there is no clear contender and since there is no fight at lightweight or welterweight it only makes sense to bring the two champions together.
“If I win the title, I’ll take the time to completely transition and adjust my weight and training so I can fight comfortably at 185.”
Assamov (23-5) has been looking to move up a division himself – after failing to capture the middleweight crown after a third-round stoppage against Reinier de Ridder earlier this year – and looks forward to welcoming Lee to the welterweight division, believes but it will be a tough night for his opponent.
“Christian is a good opponent,” he said. “He’s a good, explosive fighter, but I know his weaknesses and I’m not his type – different rules apply here.”
Given the increase in Lee’s weight for this fight, Assamov is excited to see how the jump will affect his cardio – something the Kyrgyz fighter’s wrestling is perfectly suited to.
“As you know, I prefer not to rely solely on my wrestling. If he’s up for a slugfest, he’s welcome. We’re happy to do that.
“But if he feels brave enough to wrestle, I can take him into deep water and we’ll see who has more oxygen.”ONE Fight Night 4: Abbasov versus Lee takes place on Saturday 19th November at 5:00am GST at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Arena in Singapore. This is a night not to be missed, so mark your calendars, download the ONE Super App and go to watch.onefc.com now!