Last Friday, 6 September, the five-time Muay Thai World Champion competed under kickboxing rules for the first time in his career against the hard-hitting, high-energy Masahide “Crazy Rabbit” Kudo.
Though his rival is a veteran in the discipline with a RISE Featherweight Title to his name, the man from Samutprakan, Thailand was close to his brilliant best as he adapted to a new discipline and won a clear unanimous decision.
Just like in his Muay Thai bouts, his prodigious kicking ability from southpaw stance was too much for his rival to handle, and proved he is likely to be a threat against any competitor in his weight class.
Now that the dust has settled and he has had time to reflect on his contest at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium, Panpayak reveals how he rates his performance, and where it puts him in the running for a World Title shot in the ONE Super Series flyweight division.
ONE Championship: How did you feel about your first kickboxing experience?
Panpayak Jitmuangnon: I feel like I have a lot to work on when it comes to kickboxing. The clinch game and distancing are so different, but I am confident that I can and will get better. I’m already a technical fighter who favors my kick, so [I just need to make] a few minor adjustments.
I found the distancing to be the biggest challenge because you can clinch and throw elbows in Muay Thai when you are in close. In kickboxing, you need to move more.
I loved hearing the crowd cheer for me, and got a lot of positive comments on social media. They liked my push kick and my kicks. It felt good.
Overall, I think I did well, but have a lot to work on. My left kick works perfectly for this style, and I just need to work on my punches and throwing more combos.
ONE: How did you feel going into the match?
PJ: I watched my opponent before, and was really confident about this match-up. Even fighting kickboxing, I knew my experience would be too much for him.
There was a little pressure. I saw how impressed people were with Rodtang [Jitmuangnon – his teammate]’s last performance, and I wanted that too.
I wanted to bring that type of excitement to the promotion, the fans, and to my gym.
ONE: How did you think you adjusted to your new style of competing as the bout progressed?
PJ: When the fight started, I just kept thinking that I needed to keep as busy as possible.
After the first round, I felt I did well and followed my plan. I was really confident going into the second round. In round two, I felt I did even better – I was getting more acclimatized to kickboxing.
I was actually really tired in round three because I threw more in these three rounds than I usually do in five rounds of fighting in Thailand.
I’ll admit, I was more tired after fighting three rounds than I was after five rounds. Plus the environment and the excitement definitely made me more tired than usual, but he didn’t hit me with anything major, and I felt really comfortable for the whole of the fight.
ONE: What did you learn from this match?
PJ: It was a great learning experience for me and a new challenge that I really enjoyed.
Keeping busy like this during a fight, I’ll need to change my training just a bit to incorporate the faster movement.
ONE: What do you hope to achieve next in ONE?
PJ: I am comfortable fighting in Muay Thai or kickboxing, I am grateful for any opportunity ONE gives me, but I feel there is more opportunity for me in the kickboxing
Rodtang is my little brother, I can’t fight him for a World Title. My sights are on the kickboxing World Title. I think I can do it.
In Thailand, I have to give up weight to fight, and I’ve nearly run out of opponents. Kickboxing is a new challenge for me – it is fresh and fun. I think it will take me about three more fights until my full potential in this new discipline is released.