Johan Ghazali (L) (ONE Championship)

Johan Ghazali Discusses His Win OVer Edgar Tabar

ONE Fight Night 17 put Muay Thai in the spotlight, and perhaps the man who shined the brightest in U.S. primetime was Malaysian-American prodigy Johan Ghazali. 

The talented 17-year-old made short work of Edgar Tabares, scoring a crushing body shot to the liver to finish the Mexican star less than a minute into their flyweight affair.  

Although he is ready for the spotlight, Ghazali is headed back home to his schoolmates and homework before continuing his journey to the top of the sport, which is a significant switch up from his thrilling debut on ONE’s grandest stage. 


“I think they’re alright, you know? Some of them look up to me, some of them like, you know. I’ve been with the same classmates for like seven/eight years, so they’ve seen the journey, they’ve seen me go to class with black eyes, with broken hands and they see the hard work. So I’m sure they’re proud of me,” he told ONE Championship. 

“I mean, if it was up to me, I would like to fight next week. But I have to go home, you know, I have to get my driver’s license; I have to finish school first. I’ll finish school in February, so I mean March maybe, I don’t know. When I finish school, I’ll be back as soon as I can, so yeah.” 

Once exams are finished, though, “Jojo” will be ready to return to action. 

His star may be on the rise, but the teen phenom wants to take it slow and mature before attacking the division’s top end. But that doesn’t mean he will shy away from challenges that test his mettle. 

“Against who? I don’t know. I feel like I want to face someone that would make noise, you know. Someone that would really show people that I belong here, so maybe someone like Taiki [Naito] or Dedduanglek or I don’t know. Someone that I can prove myself to, yeah,” he said. 

Given his aggressive striking and dangerous skill set, many have begun to compare Ghazali to the flyweight Muay Thai king Rodtang Jitmuangnon. 

However, the burgeoning superstar wants everyone to know he is his own man. 

“I get this a lot, you know. It’s cool, you know. At first, it was cool; people calling me ‘Rodtang Malay.’ It’s cool to be mentioned on the same level as one of my idols. But I don’t want to be remembered as like the next Rodtang, you know. I want to be remembered as the first ‘Jojo,’ the first Johan Ghazali. So, I’m grateful, I’m honored, to be on the same level, as not on the same level as him, but like being mentioned with him. But yeah, I want to be my own person,” Ghazali stated. 

The 17-year-old is already building a name for himself, but he wants to continue that upward trajectory in a new region in the new year, and he aims to bring his talents to America to show his family what he can do on the biggest of stages first hand. 

“It feels amazing, you know. I have family in the U.S. They’re in New Mexico. So I would love for them to watch me fight live, you know, somewhere in the U.S. Yeah, it’d be cool to showcase my skills, showcase my heart in U.S. land,” Ghazali said.