Johan “Jojo” Ghazali, the teen sensation who has taken the Muay Thai world by storm, is set to step into the limelight in his U.S. primetime debut. He is scheduled to compete against Edgar Tabares at ONE Fight Night 17, which will broadcast live from Bangkok’s legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on December 8.
Ghazali, a dual-national Malaysian-American, has already turned heads in the ONE Championship circuit, especially with a striking 16-second knockout during his first appearance at ONE Friday Fights 6 earlier in February. His string of dominant performances continued as he became a regular feature on the weekly Asia primetime event series, showcasing a blend of technical proficiency and explosive power that belies his youthful age.
With four victories at Lumpinee Stadium this year, all within the distance and three accompanied by substantial $10,000 USD bonuses, Ghazali’s entrance into the ONE Championship’s U.S. primetime is a testament to his rapid ascent in the sport. His latest victory over Temirlan Bekmurzaev by way of a decisive body shot has further solidified his reputation as a formidable contender.
However, the fight landscape for ONE Fight Night 17 has experienced some turbulence with the postponement of the featherweight Muay Thai title bout between Tawanchai PKSaenchaiGym and Superbon Banchamek due to health concerns. While this headlining match has been tentatively rescheduled for ONE Friday Fights 46 on December 22, alongside an interim atomweight kickboxing title fight, official confirmation remains pending.
Amidst this reshuffling, Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat marks his return to ONE Championship after a hiatus since 2019. His journey has been filled with triumphs, including a gold medal at the 2021 SEA Games and another at the IFMA World Championships the following year. Nhat’s foray into MMA in 2022 also saw him capture four wins en route to a Lion Championship tournament victory. He now aims to bring this winning momentum back to the ONE Championship ring as he faces Denis Purić in a flyweight Muay Thai fight at the December event.
For Ghazali, who will turn 17 just a month before the event, the fight represents more than just another notch in his belt; it is the beginning of a new chapter in an already impressive career. He steps into the ring with the intent to further his legacy and assert his position in the martial arts world.
His opponent, the accomplished Mexican Muay Thai artist Edgar Tabares, is seeking redemption. Despite a challenging start to his tenure in ONE Championship, including losses to the top-tier talent like Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Elias Mahmoudi, Tabares enters his third match in the promotion with the goal of capturing a much-needed win. His history-making achievement as the first Mexican to win a WBC Muay Thai International Title in 2022 still resonates as a reminder of his capabilities.
Both athletes are at critical points in their careers, and their upcoming clash is a significant moment for them. For Ghazali, it’s about maintaining his meteoric rise and proving his mettle on a prominent international platform. For Tabares, it’s about demonstrating resilience and the ability to rebound against adversity. The stakes are high as both fighters prepare to showcase their skills and spirit under the bright lights at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
Further igniting the competitive fervor of ONE Fight Night 17 is the comeback of Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat. Nhat’s sabbatical from ONE Championship does not denote a period of rest but rather a time of conquest and achievement in different arenas of martial arts. His decorated record is a mirror to his undying spirit and his unwavering dedication to the sport, and his match against Denis Purić is highly anticipated by fans eager to see if he can translate his success across different platforms back into the ONE Championship ring.
Adding to the dynamism of the fight card is the flyweight Muay Thai confrontation between Walter Goncalves and Jacob Smith. Goncalves, whose transition back to Muay Thai after experimenting in mixed martial arts signifies a return to his roots, is determined to reclaim his place within the hierarchy of the sport. Smith, on the other hand, stands as a paragon of resilience, undeterred by his debut against Rodtang, ready to demonstrate the improvements and adjustments that come from training with elite-level talent.
The event is further enriched by a roster of fighters that reads like a who’s who of the Muay Thai world. With Niclas Larsen set to square off against Jo Nattawut in the featherweight division, the fight card includes a blend of experienced tacticians and explosive strikers, promising a night of technical finesse and raw power. In the bantamweight division, Felipe Lobo’s bout against Saemapetch Fairtex offers another layer of intrigue, with both fighters bringing a history of high-level competition and a wealth of skill to the ring.