Johan Ghazali is a remarkable 17-year-old who could be the beacon of light for American Muay Thai. The Malaysian-American stormed through ONE Friday Fights with four consecutive victories. On Friday, December 8, he will jump into U.S. primetime at ONE Fight Night 17 against Edgar Tabares.
Although still a young gun in the sport, Ghazali already sees the life-changing effects of his outstanding performances. ONE Championship has elevated him to a six-figure contract and moved him into the spotlight. “Jojo” is reveling in his newfound popularity ahead of his flyweight clash in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I mean, ONE Championship has been life-changing, man. In just four fights, I have obviously already made more money than 30 fights outside of ONE Championship. So, of course, it changed my life financially, but it also changed my life in other aspects, like popularity wise has changed and a lot of things too. It has been nothing but great,” Ghazali told ONE.
Ghazali is extremely confident heading into his primetime debut. The talented teen says that he is not concerned with what Tabares brings to the table. However, he admits he is not underestimating what could happen in small gloves.
“Again, I don’t think it’s much, but at the same time, I know I can’t be too overconfident because, you know, the four-ounce gloves gives anybody power. Everyone can have the ability to knock people out. That makes for a fun fight. Even if someone doesn’t have power, like if they land flush, the knockout is going to come, you know. Yeah, again, I don’t think he has too much power, or I should be worrying too much about it,” the 17-year-old remarked.
Tabares is 0-2 in ONE action but has not had an easy road. The Mexican striker was pitted against ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon in his promotional debut. In his second outing, he took on Elias Mahmoudi.
The 29-year-old went right after both men, which Ghazali said was a mistake in tactics. If Tabares comes out to put pressure on him, he expects he can weather a storm. But it is not something he wants to do if he can avoid it.
“Maybe it’s an iron chin. But I don’t know, and I don’t really want to find out. So I’m not gonna let anyone punch me just to test it. But if it does happen, I think I’ll be alright. But I gotta say, I’m not gonna let anyone do it on purpose,” Ghazali said.
The 17-year-old wants to be the aggressor when the bell rings. He wants to take away Tabares’ game plan and keep him on his back foot. Prepared for three rounds, Ghazali hopes that pressure can break his opponent and lead to a little extra cash at ONE Fight Night 17.
“That’ll be insane. It would be amazing, just going home with no pain. It would be sweet to get the US$50k bonus too, big money. I’ll be grateful if I do get it,” Ghazali said.
ONE Fight Night 17 airs live on Friday, December 8. The action gets underway at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on Prime Video. The event is free for all Amazon Prime members based in the U.S. and Canada.