‘Pressure Him Until He Breaks’ – Johan Ghazali Aims To Continue Ascent In U.S. Primetime Debut Against Edgar Tabares
Johan “Jojo” Ghazali has already built a massive name for himself as a teen phenom in the ONE Friday Fights event series. Now, he wants to become a truly global superstar.
The 17-year-old earned a six-figure ONE Championship contract following his perfect 4-0 run in the promotion’s weekly Asia primetime showcase, and on December 8, he’ll finally hit U.S. primetime at ONE Fight Night 17: Kryklia vs. Roberts on Prime Video.
The Malaysian-American prodigy is set to face Edgar Tabares in a flyweight Muay Thai clash, and he could make a big statement against the former World Title challenger.
Looking ahead to the battle, Ghazali isn’t fazed by Tabares’ experience or skill set. And although he won’t overlook the Mexican striker, he expects to have the upper hand when they stand across the ring from one another.
“Jojo” told onefc.com:
“Honestly, I don’t see much from him. I think he has a low kick, and that’s about it. I don’t see anything that will trouble me, really, but that doesn’t mean I’m underestimating him. The level of fighters here in ONE Championship is really high, so I’m prepared to go out there and do my best.
“Again, I don’t think he has too much power, but at the same time, I know I can’t be too overconfident because, in the 4-ounce gloves, everyone has the ability to knock people out.
“That makes for a fun fight. Even if someone doesn’t have power, if they land flush, the knockout is going to come.”
After finishing three of his four opponents in ONE so far, Ghazali will bring the confidence of both youth and momentum into his encounter with the 29-year-old Tabares.
With everything from a 16-second knockout to a third-round stoppage in an epic back-and-forth battle, “Jojo” has displayed the power and tenacity to break down opponents from the first bell until the last.
That’s what he intends to put on Tabares when they square off in Bangkok, with his eyes on a life-changing performance bonus from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong:
“My game plan is to pressure him until he breaks. Then just pressure more and get the knockout, whatever way it comes. I won’t be too fussy, but I’ll definitely be coming for it. Of course, I would prefer an early finish. However, if I don’t get it early, I’ll just keep looking for it.
“It would be insane to beat my 16-second KO, just going home with no pain. And it would be sweet to get the US$50,000 bonus too – big money! I’ll be grateful if I do get it.”
Ghazali Says Rodtang Comparisons Are ‘Really Cool’
Johan Ghazali’s stunning performances at ONE Friday Fights earned him legions of fans, with many of them likening the teenager to longtime ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon.
As a huge fan of the Thai superstar, “Jojo” is flattered by the comparison and would love to reach the same lofty heights in his career.
Now that he’s secured his place on the roster, his journey toward the top has taken a big step forward, but he knows it will take time and consistency to become a household name in the combat sports world:
“It can’t be done fast or anything. It’s hard work, dedication, and maybe a little more experience fighting against top fighters. It will be hard to achieve that sort of level, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible.”
“It’s really cool to be associated with a legend like that. Even in Malaysia, my nickname is already ‘Rodtang Melayu’ (Malay Rodtang). That’s what the community in Thailand and Malaysia know me as. But honestly, I don’t want to be remembered as the next Rodtang. I want to be remembered as Johan Ghazali.”
The 17-year-old would love to challenge for the division’s gold – whether it’s against “The Iron Man” or whoever the World Champion might be in the future.
However, he’s not getting ahead of himself. The Rentap Muaythai Gym product knows he must take out the tough Edgar Tabares in order to start climbing the ladder.
“Of course, every ONE Championship fighter’s dream is to be the ONE World Champion. The same goes for me, too. It would be great to get a shot to fight for the World Title one day.
“So, at the moment, I’m taking one fight at a time to try and achieve that dream.”