The reigning ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion will face his countryman in an epic main event showdown at ONE: BATTLEGROUND this Friday, 30 July.
At 37 years old, Sam-A is a living legend in “the art of eight limbs.” However, the 26-year-old Prajanchai is one of the greatest athletes in Thailand right now, and he believes it’s time to pass the torch.
Before the World Title fight broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, here are the keys to victory for both dominant athletes in this generational clash of titans.
#1 Prajanchai’s Boxing
Prajanchai is well-known to hardcore Muay Thai fans, but he’ll be eager to put on a show in his debut on the global stage.
Unlike the more relaxed pace back in Thailand, he might put his foot on the gas from the opening bell, and the best way to pressure Sam-A will come from his championship-winning boxing.
The PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym representative possesses lightning-fast speed in his hands, and his career in “the sweet science” improved his power. Opponents who try to wade in on Sam-A with single shots tend to get picked off, but Prajanchai’s bursts of punches could be the ticket.
In order to stave off the titleholder’s counters, the challenger has to get inside — maybe with his heavy straight right — and then keep punching to ensure Sam-A stays on the back foot. From there, he can use rapid combinations to score in the exchanges.
While being the aggressor is not always Prajanchai’s go-to strategy, it could be key against the composed veteran.
#2 Sam-A’s Concussive Counters
If Prajanchai does come out trigger-happy and a little overzealous in his ONE debut, Sam-A could exploit it.
As fans have seen repeatedly in the legend’s promotional tenure, barreling toward him often results in a trip to the canvas. Sam-A reads his opponents well and has either a left hand or left elbow waiting as they charge in.
Moreover, if Prajanchai manages to bypass the counters and get too close, Sam-A can also use his larger frame to smother his foe in the clinch, where his scything elbows can do maximum damage.
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#3 Prajanchai’s Back-Foot Mastery
Fortunately for Prajanchai, he is not reliant on moving forward. Although that’s certainly an option, he can also mix up his tactics with his more familiar back-foot style.
And given that Sam-A grows in confidence with every passing round — especially when his rivals become predictable — the challenger could alternate between aggressive attacks and counter-striking to keep his opposite number guessing.
The defending World Champion’s recent opponents have all been front-foot fighters, which played right into his wheelhouse. But when Sam-A can’t rely on the man in front of him to engage first, he might be forced to press the issue himself, and that’s what Prajanchai can exploit.
Like his mentor, Saenchai, the 26-year-old uses slick defense, combining his footwork, timing, and head movement to force his opponents to hit air.
When they lunge toward him and miss, Prajanchai blitzes with punches or catches their kicks to score back in reply, and that’s a good way of racking up points in Friday’s World Title challenge.
#4 Sam-A’s Power And Accuracy In 4-Ounce Gloves
At the highest level of combat sports, it’s often a game of millimeters, and Sam-A’s experience in the Circle with the much smaller mixed martial arts gloves could be the x-factor.
The Evolve athlete has amassed plenty of rounds with the 4-ouncers, leading to stellar results. With the joint-most finishes in ONE Super Series (4) and the most knockdowns (9), Sam-A has found his range in devastating fashion.
If Prajanchai relies on more traditional guards to block head strikes, there’s every chance the strawweight king’s accurate straights could crash through the middle with less padding to close the gaps.
Sam-A’s size and power advantage will compound these issues for the ONE newcomer, who will need to traverse the distance to get inside his taller rival’s reach.
Tiebreaker: Who Can Win The Kicking Battle?
With both men having a more innate tendency to sit back and counter, there could be a lot of time spent at long range, awaiting the next movement. This is where their respective kicking games will be tested.
Sam-A’s left kick is incredibly fast, but Prajanchai is one of the few athletes who could potentially match him on that front.
The PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym athlete is a masterful checker against southpaw opponents, while Sam-A is used to blocking and countering powerful right legs. However, Prajanchai’s tendency to double or even triple up on his kicks could beat him out.
While kicks are unlikely to finish this fight, they will be a crucial battle within the wider context of a tight five-round World Championship contest.