Malaysian-American striking star Johan Ghazali has been a revelation since joining ONE Championship.
Debuting when he was just 16 years old, he dazzled in the ONE Friday Fights series. After winning four fights and scoring three knockouts there, the young buck will jump into U.S. primetime this Friday, Dec. 8, at ONE Fight Night 17 on Prime Video.
Ghazali’s first fight on ONE’s biggest stage will be against Edgar Tabares in a flyweight Muay Thai showdown, and he reflected on his time in the world’s largest martial arts organization so far in a recent interview with ONE.
“I mean, ONE Championship has been life-changing, man. In just four fights, I have obviously already made more money than 30 fights outside of ONE Championship. So, of course, it changed my life financially, but it also changed my life in other aspects, like popularity wise has changed and a lot of things too. It has been nothing but great,” he said.
Tabares made his promotional bow this past May when he challenged Rodtang Jitmuangnon for his flyweight Muay Thai crown at ONE Fight Night 10. The Mexican star was unsuccessful in that venture, and he suffered a second defeat against Elias Mahmoudi three months later.
Watching those performances, Ghazali feels confident he can replicate the success of Tabare’s previous opponents and make a statement for American Muay Thai.
“Honestly, I don’t see much. I think he has a low kick, and that’s about it, I guess. I don’t see anything that will trouble me really, but that doesn’t mean I’m underestimating him or anything,” he professed.
“The level of fighters here in ONE Championship is really high, so I’m prepared to go out there and do my best.”
Although he is extremely confident, Ghazali isn’t entering the ring with cockiness. The 17-year-old knows all it takes is one strike in four-ounce gloves to shift the course of the bout.
“Again, I don’t think it’s much, but at the same time, I know I can’t be too overconfident because, you know, the four-ounce gloves gives anybody power; everyone can have the ability to knock people out. That makes for a fun fight,” he admitted.
“Even if someone doesn’t have power, like if they land flush, the knockout is going to come, you know. Yeah, again, I don’t think he has too much power, or I should be worrying too much about it.”
Thus, Ghazali plans to be aggressive but cautious at the same time. He doesn’t want to eat any unnecessary shots, though he feels his durability will be an asset against his upcoming foe.
“My game plan is to pressure until he breaks. Then just pressure more and get the knockout, whatever way it comes. I won’t be too fussy, but I’ll definitely be coming for it,” the teen star said.
Arriving in U.S. primetime for the first time, Ghazali wants to put on a show.
He’s prepared for nine minutes of pure adrenaline once the bell rings but is planning for another knockout and performance bonus from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
“Of course, an early one. It would be an easier thing to worry about, and it would be pain-free. However, if I don’t get it early, I’m going to be looking from one point to another point. I’ll just keep looking for it and I’ll take whatever opportunity that comes,” Ghazali said.
ONE Fight Night 17 airs live on Prime Video at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on Friday, Dec. 8. The event is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers in the U.S. and Canada.
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