For Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, every bout is another chance to build on his legendary status in the combat sports world.
The Armenian-Italian superstar — who will battle Davit Kiria at ONE: FISTS OF FURY on Friday, 26 February — is already considered the greatest kickboxer of all time, but that distinction has not affected his hunger.
Petrosyan still relishes every chance to face the best featherweight strikers in the world, and fortunately, most of them reside in ONE Super Series.
“I am honored that the fans label me as ‘the GOAT,’ but I try not to think too much about it. I want to focus on my next opponent and keep building my legacy one opponent at a time,” he says ahead of his matchup with Kiria at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“All the best talent in my division has joined ONE Championship. I think it is the logical consequence of the great work done by our promotion, which is now the top in the world. I am happy and thrilled.”
Petrosyan’s exemplary 103-2-2 (2 NC) record is unparalleled in a division that’s stacked with immense talent.
On top of that, his capture of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship — and with it, the #1 spot in the divisional rankings — has painted an even bigger target on his back.
The chasing pack would love nothing more than to defeat a legend and take his spot at the top, but the Milan resident is not fazed. Petrosyan is excited to face all comers, but until it is someone’s turn, he will not spare them a single thought.
“Everyone wants to fight against me. I think it is normal, I am the man to beat in the division. This ignites me and thrills me,” the 35-year-old Italian states.
“Honestly, I try to stay focused on myself. I have to be focused on my next opponent, not losing energy thinking about the others. When their time comes, I will have no problem facing them.”
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“The Doctor” knows that he will have his hands full with Kiria. He originally toppled the hard-hitting Georgian back in 2012, and he knows that his rival has come a long way since then.
However, the Italian superstar has also improved. He hasn’t tasted defeat since 2013 and has consistently beaten the best kickboxers in the world since joining ONE.
“I know [Kiria] really well. I met him nine years ago in Rome. He is tough, but I am 100 percent ready for the battle and I am sure it is going to be a great fight,” he says.
“Since the last time we met, we both have become better fighters. I have a lot more experience. Physically, I am stronger. My desire to win has remained the same, so I can say I am better in every aspect.
“He has improved a lot. I have watched many of his fights. He was fighting in another promotion, but he beat tough opponents. As I got better, he did the same.”
Kiria will have a huge chance to make a dent in the most stacked division in combat sports. It’s a tough task for a debut, but he’ll be extremely motivated to shock the world.
The Italian recognizes this drive in his rival and knows he must carefully manage Kiria’s tricky arsenal when they square off inside the Circle.
“He has a karate background, so his shots are [unorthodox] and a bit unpredictable. But I have worked hard for months and it is clear in my mind what I have to do,” Petrosyan offers.
“Everyone has weaknesses, of course. I am not saying now what I think his weaknesses are, but I know them very well and my trainer knows them as well.”
Most likely, it will be Kiria who spends the bulk of this fight trying to solve a puzzle. Finding a solution against “The Doctor” is a rare occurrence, although the Georgian has stated that it would be “an honor” to KO the legend.
For his part, the division’s top dog won’t get into a war of words. He’s sticking to his tried-and-tested formula of responding inside the Circle.
“I think that I would be honored to be the next U.S. President, but we are all good at talking,” Petrosyan offers.
“The ring will be the place to prove it, so I am not answering to his taunts. We will meet in the ring and there our fists will do the talking.”
Another emphatic victory would surely earn “The Doctor” the chance to compete for the vacant ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Championship, but he is taking things one step at a time.
Even challenges from other prominent ONE World Champions cannot take him off course — for now.
“I saw [ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion and kickboxing contender Nong-O Gaiyanghadao] calling me out after his win, and I was already training for him. Then the plans changed, so for now, I do not think about our match,” Petrosyan says.
“My first objective is to win against Davit on 26 February, and then of course I would love to have the chance to fight for the World Title.
“I’ve trained hard for the match and I am ready. I believe in my work and in myself, so I think I can beat him.”