It is not everyday when an athlete gets the opportunity to face one of their heroes, but that is exactly what “Smokin” Jo Nattawut is about to do.
This Friday, 20 April, the Thai will clash with the highly-decorated Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan in the co-main event of ONE: HEROES OF HONOR, live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
While Nattawut is an accomplished Muay Thai practitioner in his own right, having captured both the Lion Fight Super Welterweight and Middleweight World Championships, he has been a fan of Petrosyan for a very long time.
Now, to be given a chance to compete against one of the world’s greatest kickboxers as part of the ONE Super Series is the culmination of a career goal.
“I have been watching him fight for a long time. He is one of my favorite athletes,” the 28-year-old says about Petrosyan.
“I think it is a really fun challenge. I mean, he is my favorite competitor, and then I will be in the ring with him. It is really cool, and it is a really cool feeling.”
Petrosyan, an Armenian striker based out of Milan, Italy, holds an astonishing professional record of 95-2-2 (1 NC), which includes a 42-bout win streak spanning over six years. In addition to that, he is a two-time K-1 World Max World Champion.
Though Nattawut views “The Doctor” as a legend, and an athlete he has looked up to throughout his own professional career, that will not stop him from gunning for the win once they step into the ring together.
As a matter of fact, the Thai would consider it an achievement within itself if he were able to defeat Petrosyan, and hand him only his third career loss in just over a hundred bouts.
“It is a really interesting match-up,” Nattawut says. “He is really good, and everybody wants to face the best. If you want to be good, and if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
When it comes to this particular contest, Nattawut acknowledges what has made Petrosyan so successful throughout his career – his mastery of hitting opponents without getting hit himself.
“The Doctor” is a counter striker who baits his opponents into coming forward with aggression, and then picks them apart with surgical precision. It is an incredibly technical approach, and a provenly effective one.
Nattawut has watched countless hours of Petrosyan’s previous bouts, and has studied his hero intently.
The Thai believes he knows exactly what to expect when they step into the ring together, and it is up to him to ensure that he does not allow the Armenian to control the action once the punches and kicks start flying.
“He is really good at the counter attack, and he always does that. I think it is really going to be like that this time as well. That is how I think he is going to come at me,” Nattawut reveals.
“It is very simple, but he does everything perfectly. Every single bout, it is so hard to get close to him. To me, my idea is I want to put pressure [on him]. I do not go backwards. He is really good, but I want to throw more combos, and I think over time he will open up. We have to get close, that is first.
“Everybody has a plan, but once you get into the ring, it is a different situation. When you work a training camp, everything is going perfect. Then you get in the ring, and that is when you really figure things out.”
More than anything, Nattawut wants to put on a thrilling match as he helps launch the ONE Super Series alongside Petrosyan in style.
The “Smokin” one hopes this bout will not only result in a massive victory, but he also hopes it will help cement his career as a big part of the promotion moving forward.
“I think this could be my home for a long time,” the Thai says about ONE.
“They have really good marketing, and they are all over Asia. I think it would be the next step for me to work with them, and take myself to the next level.”
Manila | 20 April | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 main-card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor18