Johan Ghazali Brushes Off Rodtang Comparisons After Rapid-Fire Knockout At ONE Fight Night 17

Johan Ghazali Edgar Tabares ONE Fight Night 17 22

Given his incredible rise to stardom throughout 2023, it’s no surprise that 17-year-old athlete Johan “Jojo” Ghazali is already being mentioned alongside one of Muay Thai’s modern greats.

Last Friday, the Malaysian-American prodigy scored his fifth straight promotional victory – and his first in U.S. primetime – with an electrifying 36-second knockout of former ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title challenger Edgar Tabares at ONE Fight Night 17: Kryklia vs. Roberts on Prime Video.

Ghazali secured the opportunity after reeling off four consecutive wins at ONE Friday Fights, earning a coveted six-figure contract with the world’s largest martial arts organization.

Now, after looking nothing short of dominant against yet another world-class striker, “Jojo” is finding himself compared to long-reigning ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangon.

After defeating Tabares on Friday, Ghazali fielded questions about the subject. And while he’s flattered, he hopes to pave his own path rather than follow in the footsteps of the Thai megastar:

“I get this a lot. At first, it was cool, people calling me ‘Rodtang Malay.’ It’s cool to be mentioned on the same level as one of my idols.

“But I don’t want to be remembered as the next Rodtang, you know? I want to be remembered as the first ‘Jojo,’ the first Johan Ghazali. So, I’m grateful. I’m honored to be … not on the same level as him, but being mentioned with him. But yeah, I want to be my own person.”

Many fans and experts have taken the comparison between the two Muay Thai sensations a step further, wondering if a fight between Ghazali and “The Iron Man” could be on the horizon.

The teenager is certainly open to a clash with Rodtang, a man widely regarded among the planet’s top pound-for-pound strikers. 

But still just 17 years old, he’s also in no hurry to fight the divisional king. Instead, he’s aiming to continue racking up victories against exciting opponents.

Ghazali said:

“Of course, sometime down the line, you know? I have a target to be able to fight anyone in maybe two to three years, but I’m gonna slowly take my time and move up in ranks. I’m not going to jump in too fast.

“So yeah, anyone could be on my bucket list. Anyone who is entertaining. Anyone who makes noise, of course, I want to fight them.”

Ghazali Would Like To Face Top-Five Opponent: ‘Show People That I Belong Here’

Even though Johan Ghazali might be pumping the brakes on a potential fight with flyweight Muay Thai king Rodtang Jitmuangon, that doesn’t mean he’s not targeting elite competition moving forward.

“Jojo” would love to make a quick turnaround after quickly dispatching Edgar Tabares, but first things first – the young knockout artist needs to finish his studies.

He said:

“I mean, if it was up to me, I would like to fight next week. But I have to go home. I have to get my driver’s license. I have to finish school first. I’ll finish school in February, so March, maybe. I don’t know. When I finish school, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

As for possible opponents, Ghazali is open to any top flyweight striker.

But when asked for specifics, he named dangerous Japanese veteran Taiki Naito and 20-year-old Thai standout Dedduanglek Tded99, who are ranked #3 and #4 in the flyweight Muay Thai division, respectively:

“I feel like I want to face someone that would make noise, you know? Someone that would really show people that I belong here.

“So maybe someone like Taiki or Dedduanglek, or I don’t know. Someone that I can prove myself to.”

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