Following his spectacular capture of the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title, Elias “Tweety” Ennahachi has the perfect opponent for his first defense.
These two World Champions have faced each other twice before and taken one victory each, and their rivalry is set to come to a dramatic conclusion in a thrilling, five-round rubber match for their sport’s greatest prize.
This rivalry dates all the way back to September 2014, when “Tweety” got the edge after a nip-tuck contest that needed a fourth round to separate the competitors in the Netherlands.
Little more than three years later in November 2017, the rematch took place in Wang’s native Wuhan. The hometown hero took the narrowest of decisions after three stanzas, and it left a bitter taste in Ennahachi’s mouth.
“This will be my third time fighting him. I won the first time. [I believe I won] the second time as well, but I was robbed,” he says.
“The third time is where I will show that I am just much better than he is. Everyone knows, everyone saw. I’m not going to hold back this time.”
In the two years since, “Tweety” has been on a tear. His knockout of “The Baby Shark” Petchdam Petchyindee Academy was his fifth in his last six matches.
The 23-year-old credits his hot form to a new fire in him that was ignited by his result against “Metal Storm,” and the desire to make sure the results of his bouts rest in his hands, rather than those of the judges.
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“After the fight against [Wang], I became much more confident and trained much harder,” he explains.
“I really have to put every round to my name and go for it one hundred percent. Whether it is a championship or a single fight, I have to give it my all in every round.”
Though it was Ennahachi’s boxing that got the job done against Petchdam in August, his kicking game seemed to give Wang the most trouble the last time they went toe-to-toe.
However, ahead of their next meeting, the SB Gym representative is remaining tight-lipped about what he thinks will work best against Wang, and what he will have to be wary of.
“We will see on that day what his weak spots and strong points are. I already fought him twice, and I beat him twice,” he adds.
He is also not concerned about having to face his old rival in his native country again.
“Tweety” captured his ONE World Title in his last opponent’s hometown, and though he recognizes that many fans in the Cadillac Arena will cheer for Wang, he is sure he can win them over with another highlight-reel performance.
“I have fought in China before and I am happy to fight in China again,” he explains.
“The crowd there, the people there are fight lovers, they have a love for the fights. I hope to entertain the crowd and the viewers just like I did the last time in Bangkok.”
Ultimately, “Tweety” believes the identity of his opponent does not matter either. Though is happy to get the chance to settle the score against an old rival, he reveals the World Title in his possession has changed his mindset.
Whoever he faces from now will come up against a man who is driven to maintain his grip on the belt, and cement his status as the best flyweight kickboxer in the world.
“Whoever I face, it doesn’t matter because I have to defend my title and I have to make sure it stays with me,” he says.
“Wang, on 16 November, we’ll fight each other for the third time, but this time, you’ll see a different Ilias.
“I want to show the people a better match than my latest match against Petchdam and stay as champion, for sure.”
Beijing | 16 November | AGE OF DRAGONS | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast