17-year-old Johan Ghazali had his breakout moment when ONE Championship returned to U.S. primetime with ONE Fight Night 17. The teen sensation left Edgar Tabares on the canvas with a crushing left hook to the body. The KO victory validated the hype surrounding the Malaysian-American, who understands the expectations that are growing around him.
“Of course. You know, I see the hype. I see the promotion they’re putting behind me, and, of course, I feel the pressure, you know. I feel the expectations, but I’m ready for it, you know. I’m ready for it,” Ghazali told ONE after the event.
With such a quick performance, Ghazali is in prime condition for a return. But he is not a normal athlete just waiting on the next opportunity. “Jojo” is still focused on his school work and needs to graduate before concentrating on his next bout inside the squared circle.
In his post-match interview, Ghazali said he is fine taking the slow road toward the top. As a teen, there is no rush to compete against the elite of the division. He still needs to mature and work his way up, and he understands the level he needs to attain before taking on the likes of Rodtang Jitmuangnon and others.
“Of course, you know, sometime down the line, you know. I’ve a target to be able to fight anyone in maybe two to three years, but, of course, I’m gonna slowly take my time and move up in ranks. I’m not going to jump in too fast. So yeah, anyone will be on my bucket list, anyone who is entertaining, anyone who makes noise, of course, I want to fight them,” Ghazali stated.
Rodtang is a name that is front and center for “Jojo,” but not only because he currently holds the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title. His aggressive style is being likened to the Thai superstar by many. Those comparisons are flattering for the teen, but he is ready to carve out his own name as he comes into his own as an athlete.
“I get this a lot, you know. It’s cool, you know. At first, it was cool, people calling me ‘Rodtang Malay.’ It’s cool to be mentioned on the same level as one of my idols. But I don’t want to be remembered as like the next Rodtang, you know. I want to be remembered as the first ‘Jojo’, the first Johan Ghazali. So, I’m grateful, I’m honored, to be on the same level, as not on the same level as him, but like being mentioned with him. But yeah, I want to be my own person,” the 17-year-old said.
As for his next landing spot, Ghazali has the United States in mind. With ONE planning multiple events in America, “Jojo” wants to compete in front of his family that lives in the U.S., and he also knows it will introduce him to a massive market as he becomes a household name.
“It feels amazing, you know. I have family in the U.S. They’re in New Mexico. So I would love for them to watch me fight live, you know, somewhere in the U.S. Yeah, it’d be cool to showcase my skills, showcase my heart in U.S. land,” Ghazali said.