Friend And Foe: Tawanchai And Saemapetch’s Special Relationship

Pictures from the Muay Thai dream match between Sitthichai and Tawanchai at ONE: BATTLEGROUND III

Saemapetch Fairtex and Tawanchai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym might be gearing up for a war inside the Circle, but outside of it, they’ve forged a strong friendship.

The Muay Thai superstars will meet in the main card of ONE: HEAVY HITTERS on Friday, 14 January, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and both men are ready to give it their all before embracing after the final bell rings.

“We can’t escape this fight. The path leads us to face each other,” Tawanchai says.

“I feel like it is just a sport. We fight each other in the ring and hug each other when the job is done. We are still bros.”

For his part, Saemapetch fully agrees.

“[Competing against each other was] inevitable,” he says. “We’ll do our best as fighters.”

Saemapetch Rittewada 1920X1280 NEXTGENII 14

Though the pair train in different areas of Thailand – Saemapetch at Pattaya’s Fairtex Gym and Tawanchai at Bangkok’s PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym – they became acquainted through their backgrounds in “the art of eight limbs.”

At 27, Saemapetch is one of the more experienced Thai athletes in ONE Super Series, while his 22-year-old compatriot is still relatively green on the global stage.

And when Tawanchai debuted against Sean “Clubber” Clancy at ONE: DANGAL in May, he was somewhat overawed by the occasion.

Seeing that, the well-traveled Fairtex fighter quickly offered advice to the rising star.

“Tawanchai had to fly to fight abroad for the first time. He was still unfamiliar with new places and new rules. Although he had a trainer with him, they had problems in communication,” Saemapetch says. 

“Even though we are competitors in the same division, I don’t pay attention to that point at all. I’m happy to help him as I’m a senior. I feel that we all are Muay Thai fellows. We need to help each other.”

Tawanchai was grateful for the wise words from his countryman, and they helped ease him into his surroundings.

“I was new to ONE and there were many things that I was not familiar with. So, I asked him for advice on weight, hydrations, and many preparations,” he says. 

“Saemapetch was very kind to me and gave me all useful advice.”

Tawanchai's Muay Thai fight against Sean Clancy

The PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym athlete went on to defeat Clancy with a highlight-reel head kick, and the Thais soon strengthened their blossoming friendship by training together in Pattaya.

“After we had finished fighting, we became closer and closer because I went to see him at the camp, too,” Tawanchai says.

Next, that relationship will be put on hold for up to 15 minutes as the strikers meet in the Circle and duke it out for contention in the bantamweight Muay Thai ranks. 

Saemapetch currently holds the #1 contender spot, so there’s a lot at stake, but no matter the result in Singapore, their bond will not be broken. 

“We talked about [fighting each other],” Tawanchai says.

“I said to him, ‘It’s okay, bro. If we have to face each other in the Circle, we will do our duty. Outside the ring, we are always brothers.”

“This is just a game. We each have a goal, and we have to go for it,” Saemapetch adds.

“Don’t worry – neither of us will hold off as long as we are in the Circle!”

Read more: 5 Epic Knockouts From The Stars Of ONE: HEAVY HITTERS

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