Eddie Abasolo will enter the hallowed halls of Lumpinee Boxing Stadium at ONE Friday Fights 22 on June 23, as a massive underdog, as he is set to square off against Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong.
But instead of being intimidated, the American star sees the opportunity to take on the Muay Thai legend in Bangkok as recognition of his long journey to the top of the sport.
“All I’ve been able to say is that it really left me speechless. This entire camp, whenever someone’s asking you about it, the only thing I can really say is, ‘it’s a wild ride,’ because the only time I went to Thailand, I was training at Sitthichai’s gym, with him and Moonlit,” Abasolo told ONE Championship.
“Well, I only got in one round with him. And it was just like a flow round. We were just playing around, but I was there with him and Moonlit. And I think that was in 2016. So you know, just full circle, being able to fight in Lumpinee, fight for ONE Championship, on a stacked card, against someone like Sitthichai, and being able to see Moonlit in the opposite corner.”
Sitthichai’s aura will undoubtedly fill the iconic venue on Friday night, and the crowd will rise to its feet as soon as he appears. That could be too big of a moment for some athletes, but Abasolo feels that it alleviates pressure he would otherwise feel.
As an underdog, there is nothing weighing him down ahead of the June 23 meeting.
“He’s another human being, and I’m on a mission to make my way into becoming a living legend myself,” Abasolo said.
“As I said, there’s been times when I’ve gone to another country, and where I have faced the number two ranked person from that country, which I believe was in London when I fought Jersey Pinto. I went in there relaxed, and just full of confidence. I was able to perform.”
“It wasn’t easy, but I was able to do my thing out there. So with all these experiences that I’ve had, I’m just trying to mash them all together, and just bring it with me into the ring, knowing that, okay, the presence of the legend should just feel comfortable.”
Even without pressure on his shoulders, Abasolo knows that the bell will still ring, and Sitthichai will still be standing in the opposite corner, and he’ll have to live up to his “Silky Smooth” nickname to be in with any sort of chance against the Thai superstar.
But perhaps even more than technique and in-fight finesse, the 36-year-old simply believes his will to win will bring him success in his moutainous challenge.
“I feel like I want it more. I feel like I’m going to win because I want it. I know that this is his comeback fight when it comes to Muay Thai because he’s been fighting kickboxing for quite a while. And I’m not saying that he doesn’t want this, especially him fighting back in Lumpinee, but I feel like I have more to fight for than he does. And I plan on being ready to fight in all three rounds. And I plan on making it look like he was the underdog,” Abasolo said.
If he can upend the Thai on home soil, Abasolo plans to turn his attention to Tawanchai PK Saenchai and the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title, and he is already putting the champion on notice.
“I’ll see you soon [Tawanchai]. That’s pretty much it. If he’s the man that I have to stand across from, I’ll see you soon. I’m on the way. I’m buffering,” Abasolo said.
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