No one would ever have imagined that a man who started off his tenure in ONE Championship with four straight losses would go on to force one of the most respected Muay Thai fighters in the world to throw in the towel – no one, that is, except Joseph Lasiri.
But a little belief can go a long way, and “The Hurricane” exemplified that to a tee by scoring a jaw-dropping third-round TKO victory over ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion Prajanchai PK.Saenchai in the co-main event of ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot this past Friday, 20 May.
The Italian-Moroccan challenger took it to the Thai superstar in the opening round at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. He threw punches from the outside while Prajanchai tried to close the distance with lunging right hands and his trademark elbows. Neither strawweight found their intended target, though.
However, Lasiri came out for the second round humming louder than a redlining engine. From the outset, he blasted Prajanchai with punches, and then he damaged the Thai with a knee-wobbling uppercut and later staked a knee into his sternum.
Prajanchai’s frame folded inward, and he was forced to fight through the damage, which he did well for the remainder of the stanza by dabbing and pawing at both his and his opponent’s face. But that marked the beginning of the end for the defending strawweight king.
With his confidence at an all-time high, “The Hurricane” came out for round three and continued to sting Prajanchai with blistering punches. Lasiri then landed the most telling combination of the World Title bout – a left hook, right straight, right hook, and right uppercut, all of which tested the Thai’s durability.
When the bell sounded to end the frame, the Italian-Moroccan strutted to his corner, while Prajanchai clung to the Circle Wall.
And then, the most shocking moment of the night occurred. As Lasiri was preparing for round four, Prajanchai, from the stool, informed his corner and referee Olivier Coste that he could no longer continue.
The fight was stopped, and Lasiri was awarded the TKO victory. He improved his career record to 43-12 and became the third ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion in the promotion’s history.
To add to the celebration, the Italian-Moroccan was also awarded a US$50,000 performance bonus for his striking masterclass.