It was “Timebomb’s” first ONE Super Series bout in his new division and his second-round stoppage of the five-time Muay Thai World Champion at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE completed the Australian’s remarkable turnaround into a potential World Title contender.
The MuayU athlete has now won three bouts in The Home Of Martial Arts under kickboxing and Muay Thai rules and he feels like he is hitting his stride.
“Man, I was pumped with the win. I really didn’t know how the fight was going to go,” he reveals.
“I did say if it went to the later rounds, my pressure would tell and I could have stopped him, but I didn’t think it would happen like that. It was quite a surprise, but a nice surprise!”
“Timebomb” admits he was “really nervous” at the start of the match in Jakarta, Indonesia, but he hid that well as he threw heavy leather from the opening bell. As he went toe-to-toe and duked it out with “Punisher,” his confidence grew.
“I was really nervous at the start of the fight, but I just told myself, ‘Back yourself, you’ve done the hard work in preparation.’ But other than the nerves, I felt really good,” he adds.
“After that little feel-out process, when I got hit, I felt really confident. In the first minute, I hit him and cut him above the nose, so my confidence was building as the round went on. I think I won the round – I had some good, effective shots.”
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The Canberra native came out firing in the second frame, too. He took the advice of his coach Kieran Walsh and dialed up his output to put Howson under pressure until the opportunity to land the decisive blow presented itself.
“Kieran told me not to catch the kicks because [Howson] started throwing the right kick, then the right hand straight after. He said to kick more, then build up the pressure,” Tonna continues.
“I could feel him getting more tired, and I felt the knees were taking the wind out of him as well. But that’s just the way I am, too — in the second and third rounds I pick it up more.
“The finish was just a reaction. We’ve been practicing a lot of freestyle pad rounds in southpaw, and I lead a lot with the right hand and throw a lot of left kicks and left knees. So I guess we’ve been practicing it subconsciously, but I was just going with it and seeing what would happen.”
After an inconsistent start to life on the global stage, the 31-year-old ISKA K-1 World Champion now seems to have found his best form and his latest win was the most impressive to date.
He credits his success to a range of factors that have come together at the perfect time.
“I think moving gyms was a really good move for me, and I just put it down to preparation,” he offers.
“The last year, I’ve been doing a lot of strength work which has made me stronger, and then going down the weight division, it’s just accumulated and gone in the right direction. I think I brought the strength with me. I didn’t lose any power, I just felt much faster, I had this different energy. I even trained the day of the fight and felt amazing the whole week.
“It has been a good comeback, I got smashed in the first fight, and then it’s been a complete 180. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going with whatever fight I get next.”
The Aussie scrapper’s confidence and momentum are at an all-time high. His memorable KO in Jakarta has launched him toward the top of the new ONE Super Series strawweight division and fueled his ambitions.
Now, he believes he has what it takes to face the very best there is, but whatever challenge matchmakers throw at him, he is excited to take it on.
“I trust the process and what the guys at ONE want to do,” he says.
“If they’re looking out for me then I trust that. If they want to build me up more then that’s okay, but if I could pick, my next fight in a couple of months’ time would be Sam-A (Gaiyanghadao) for the kickboxing belt.”