One of Thailand’s most elite and accomplished strikers is set to return at ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH for a brand new challenge.
Next Friday, 6 September at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Panpayak “The Angel Warrior” Jitmuangnon will make his kickboxing debut as part of ONE Championship’s inaugural event in Vietnam.
The 23-year-old will face Masahide “Crazy Rabbit” Kudo in a flyweight bout in which the five-time Muay Thai World Champion will look to see if his perfect left kick translates to the new discipline.
Panpayak’s debut in December lived up to all the hype and he turned in a near-flawless performance to defeat Portugal’s Rui Botelho. He picked his shots and used his reach to land straight punches and kicks, and dropped his rival with a head kick on his way to a unanimous decision.
He now holds an outstanding 244-40-3 record, but none of those bouts have been contested outside “the art of eight limbs.”
However, the man from Samut Prakan is confident that his signature muay femur style will easily adapt to kickboxing.
“I am excited, this will be my first time fighting kickboxing, but it is also weighing a little heavily on my mind,” he says.
“We’ll just have to wait and see. I have always been a technical fighter, so I think it will be an easier transition for me. I like to use my kicks and punches already.”
His opponent is an accomplished kickboxing stylist who is a fan-favorite in his native Japan. The REBELS Muay Thai and RISE Featherweight Champion is known for his highlight-reel knockouts and thrilling, fast-paced bouts.
His unpredictable approach, and willingness to go all-out in search of a finish is likely to give Panpayak a tough test, but after more than a decade of experience in the ring, and careful analysis of his previous bouts, the Thai feels he will have the edge.
“After watching him fight with Petchdam [Petchyindee Academy], I am familiar with his style,” he explains.
“I don’t think he is as experienced as me, and my experience will give me the advantage. I am confident I can win, but cannot be careless.”
Even though he will compete under kickboxing rules for the first time, “The Angel Warrior” believes he has a clear-cut path to victory.
He believes his trademark technique – one of the most beautiful and dangerous strikes in all of martial arts – is the key to victory, and he can adapt it to get his hand raised for the 245th time.
“My left kick – it is my signature move. I just need to add more punches,” the Thai star says.
“I want to hit first, move forward, and be more aggressive. I am planning to lead with my hands and follow with my kicks.”
Despite his positive attitude, Panpayak’s huge experience has taught him to never underestimate his opponents. He acknowledges the danger Kudo poses, especially in 4-ounce mixed martial arts gloves, and has tailored his plan to keep himself safe, and victory within reach.
“His punches are his best weapon. Small gloves are going to make it harder to block, but it is up to me to figure that out once in the ring,” he says.
“I’ll be planning to slip his punches rather than block.”
Having already wet his feet in The Home Of Martial Arts, fans can expect an even better version of the man who won the prestigious Sports Writers Association Of Thailand Fighter Of The Year award an unprecedented three years running.
With his peerless technique, superb ring IQ, and phenomenal conditioning, fans in Vietnam can expect another divine performance from “The Angel Warrior.”
“It is exciting to get to travel to a brand new country. I am grateful to ONE for the opportunity,” he says.
“After my debut, I am feeling a lot more confident about this match-up. Having competed for ONE before, I am better prepared.
“I hope that everyone will come to watch and cheer me on. I’ll be bringing even more excitement this time around!”