Giorgio Petrosyan Remembers The Loss That Almost Ended His Career

A few years ago, Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan almost hung up his gloves for good.

The Armenian-Italian superstar – who will face Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy in the main event ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia next Friday, 12 July – found himself at the lowest ebb of his career when he last lost.

It was only his second defeat in 105 bouts as a professional athlete, but he admits he had difficulty coming to terms with it.

However, like any truly great World Champion, he learned how to move past his setback, return to the ring with a renewed hunger for success, and build an incredible unbeaten streak that established him as the greatest pound-for-pound kickboxer in the world.

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“For one who is accustomed to winning at all times, of course, I am the type of person who doesn’t like being on the losing side,” Petrosyan explains.

“When I lost that fight [against Andy Ristie] in 2013 at Madison Square Garden, not only did I lose, but I also fractured my hand and faced a whole lot of issues. I found myself unable to handle all of that.”

The two-time K-1 World MAX Champion had made it past a loss once before, but he could not take this one in his stride. It hit him hard and made him wonder whether or not he could still operate at the highest level.

Combined with the injuries he suffered, it meant that “The Doctor” briefly questioned whether he wanted to continue competing.

“I went through that spell during which I thought about hanging it up because I couldn’t sleep, focus or train, and my passion had turned its back on me,” he reveals.

“The most important and beautiful thing, which was putting in training time, had turned into the worst one. I went through a difficult year, I could not train or focus. I wanted to get ready for a fight, but I couldn’t – my head was not in the right place.

“Still, I wanted to train and be like everybody else, because everyone can end up on the losing side. I would look at others and wonder, ‘Why is it that others lose, win, lose, win, yet they are still very much in game mode, whereas I lost a single fight and I’m down in the dumps, unable to come to terms with it?’”

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Petrosyan was out for the whole of 2014, and he knew that he had to make some drastic changes if he wanted to return to the top of the game he had dominated for many years.

To reignite his passion, he moved to Milan, where he teamed up with a new coach and opened his own gym. He was out of his comfort zone in a new city, but this was the shake-up that paved the way for his comeback.

“I came out of this terrible tunnel first and foremost by moving to a new place, and I came to Milan where my brother and I started a gym,” he explains.

“I met my new coach, Ermes Di Francesca, who gave me renewed motivation and a fresh start. I also made some new friends who helped me out quite a lot, and my family did too. And from then on I made some sweeping changes and got a new lease on life.”

Petrosyan got back into the ring in January 2015 and showed that he was still at the peak of his powers. He faced off against some of the world’s leading kickboxers, dismantled every one of them, and picked up four new World Titles in the process.

There were doubters – he had even doubted himself – but the 33-year-old’s success silenced all of them. As the wins piled up, his confidence grew, and in 2018 he signed a contract to compete against the best strikers in the world in ONE Championship. 

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“Everybody was saying, ‘Giorgio is out, he’s done, because he broke his hand, he got knocked out, he lost the title, he is psychologically and physically out,’” he recalls.

“But after one year of rest and important surgeries, I came back stronger than before, at 100 percent in my mind, and in the body as well.

“I really rose from that loss like a phoenix. I learned that you can rise again stronger than before if your mind is strong.”

As he prepares for his second tussle with Petchmorakot in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix quarterfinals, the adversity he endured following his last defeat has shown him that there is always a way back.

“The Doctor” thought he lost their first match when a split decision was announced in favor of his rival, but the result was later overturned to a no contest due to the use of illegal techniques.

Now Petrosyan has the chance to do what he does best again, right a wrong, and advance in the biggest kickboxing tournament of its kind.

When he suffered a setback once before, he struggled to come back stronger, but this time, he has no doubt his hand will be raised in Kuala Lumpur, and he will continue on his journey to World Grand Prix gold.