Panpayak defeats Michael, earns grand prix final slot

Panpayak defeats Michael, earns grand prix final slot

Panpayak Jitmuangnon celebrates his victory after a recent bout.
Panpayak Jitmuangnon celebrates his victory after a recent bout.

ONE Championship star Panpayak Jitmuangnon scored an incredible victory this past weekend to earn his place in the ONE flyweight Muay Thai world grand prix championship final.

The Thai star filled in as a late replacement for Rodtang Jitmuangnon in his semi-final bout against Savvas Michael at ONE Fight Night 1: Moraes v Johnson II, on Saturday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and came away victorious thanks to a second-round knockout.

He is now slated to compete for the tournament's coveted silver belt against old foe Superlek Kiatmoo9 sometime before the end of the year.

The No.3-ranked flyweight Muay Thai contender attacked Michael right from the opening bell and kept up the pressure right to the end of the opening round. Then, just ten seconds into the second frame, he scored a highlight-reel finish over the Cypriot star with a blistering right hook followed by a devastating left kick to the head.

The win punched his ticket to the tournament final and earned him a US$50,000 bonus from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

Following the bout, "The Angel Warrior," who was originally scheduled to fight Sherzod Kabutov in a grand prix alternate bout on the ONE Fight Night 1 lead card, thanked flyweight Muay Thai king Rodtang for indirectly giving him the opportunity to compete in the tourney.

"I would like to say a big thank you to Rodtang. It was an accident for me to move up to compete against Savvas. This is one of the biggest opportunities in my life. It is such a big opportunity for me to be on this fight card and to win this tournament," Panpayak said.

Early in the evening, top-ranked flyweight Muay Thai contender Superlek scored a spectacular finish of his own when he took on No.5-ranked contender Walter Goncalves in the other semifinal clash. It took just 95 seconds for the Thai to finish his Brazilian foe with a perfectly placed elbow.

"The Angel Warrior" will face Superlek for the second time inside the Circle and the eighth time overall, with Panpayak holding a four-win advantage over "The Kicking Machine."

Speaking on his future showdown against his compatriot, the seven-time Muay Thai world champion made it clear that he expected it to be a competitive affair.

"In a Thai athlete versus a Thai athlete [bout] it is hard to find a chance for a knockout. I will have to find the chance. Of course, I will [try to finish by knockout]," Panpayak said.

"I feel glad to compete with him again. I lost the last fight with him. I told the public that I wanted revenge in the future. The time has come in the grand prix."

In the meantime, download the ONE Super App to catch all the action at ONE 161: Petchmorakot v Tawanchai on Sept 29 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

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