‘I Can Surprise The World’ – Josue Cruz Hopes To Inspire Mexico With Historic Muay Thai Win Over Panpayak
Josue Cruz is set to become the first fighter from Mexico to compete in ONE Super Series Muay Thai – but he’s aiming to make even more history this Friday, 20 May.
That evening in Singapore, “Tuzo” will take on Panpayak Jitmuangnon in a ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Grand Prix alternate bout at ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot, and he wants to score a landmark win for his country in the biggest match of his career.
It certainly won’t be easy against a seven-time Muay Thai World Champion with a remarkable 247-41-3 slate, but facing a decorated striker only makes Cruz more eager to go out and prove he belongs among the elite.
“I got really excited when I found out about [this fight]. I thank God for having this opportunity. Knowing that I will face one of the best fighters in my division is a huge motivation for me. As an athlete facing guys on that level, it gets the best out of me knowing that I can surprise the world with a victory.
“Many people think I will lose against somebody with much more experience and a long career. But that’s good because it gives me the motivation to put everything on the line and [prove them wrong].”
As well as amassing almost 300 bouts and a 3-1 record in ONE Championship, Panpayak has won multiple Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium belts while defeating many of the top-tier athletes in Thailand.
Cruz respects everything “The Angel Warrior” brings to the Circle, but he won’t be fazed by those accomplishments when they go head-to-head.
Instead, the debutant with a 17-1 record plans to treat the 26-year-old Thai like any other man who stands in front of him.
“I know he has a long career with lots of fights. That’s how you build yourself as a fighter – the time you have trained along the years, your wins, the type of opponents you faced and all that. But I don’t focus on that. He is a human just like me, with two arms and two legs, who feels pain on every punch, and he wants the victory as well.
“But the difference is that I have a very strong desire to win. I am very hungry, I am very motivated to represent my country. I am focused on what I can put on the table and not on what he can do.”
Josue Cruz Wants To Level Up Mexican Muay Thai
Mexico has a rich combat sports history, and Josue Cruz is thrilled to be leading the way in Muay Thai by competing in ONE Super Series.
Now that he’s joined the biggest global platform for the sport, the 26-year-old knows he can use this high-profile debut to help grow “the art of eight limbs” in his home nation, which has traditionally been a hub for world-class boxers.
“It’s an honor for me to be an ambassador for the sport in Mexico. I am happy about that. I am proud to know that I am building the path for many other fighters that want to come here. It’s not easy. It is a big responsibility to have that flag in my hands in a big organization like ONE.
“Mexico has a lot of talent. I’d like to see more Mexicans competing in the different leagues like ONE around the world. The quality is there, we just need more support to push all these fighters and see them competing on the big stages.”
Cruz also knows that a victory at ONE 157 would take the Muay Thai scene in Mexico to new heights, especially against such a revered figure like Panpayak Jitmuangnon.
With that goal firmly in mind, “Tuzo” is planning to bring his best on Friday and carve a path for his compatriots to follow.
“I believe getting a win on my ONE debut will catch the attention of many people to our country. The fact that people will be watching me and say, ‘Hey, that Mexican fighter won, let’s look for more Mexican fighters.’
“We have very good fighters that want to be here. I think, with the help of God, everything I do will earn a victory, so I can help more fellow Mexicans to jump to the big leagues.”