Ilias Ennahachi says he won’t hold back in Wang Wenfeng rubber match
It’s certainly no stretch to suggest that Dutch-Moroccan juggernaut Ilias Ennahachi may currently be the hottest kickboxing property on the ONE Super Series roster at the moment. And he’s only had one fight.
In the midst of a six-fight win streak, the 23-year-old prodigy had been systematically tearing his way through the cream of the kickboxing world with a slew of highlight reel knockouts, which earned him a ONE Super Series contract and an immediate shot at the flyweight title in his promotional debut in August.
Ennahachi put the celebrated Thai fighter to the sword with a clinical display of striking, punctuated with an onslaught of body shots to claim a TKO victory and put his new colleagues on notice.
With the belt now wrapped safely around his waist, Ennahachi has quickly turned his focus to taking care of some unfinished business against an opponent he’s all too familiar with in Wang Wenfeng.
The pair have fought twice previously and split the ledger at one win apiece. They’ll have a chance to break that deadlock on Saturday when they square off for a third time at ONE: ‘Age of Dragons’ in Beijing.
For Ennahachi, it’s been a long time coming. He dropped a unanimous decision loss to Wang at Kunlun Fight event in the quarter-final of an eight-man tournament in May of 2017 that he believes was a blatant case of home-cooking from the judges, and he’s eager to right that perceived injustice.
“This will be my third time fighting him. I won the first time. (I believe I won) the second time as well, but I was robbed,” he says.
“The third time is where I will show that I am just much better than he is. Everyone knows, everyone saw. I’m not going to hold back this time.”
They’re ominous words from ‘Tweety’. The first bout between the two took place way back in 2014, where Ennahachi scored a unanimous decision victory over four rounds on his home soil in the Netherlands.
The decider may be set to take place in the Chinese capital but Ennahachi is completely undaunted by the prospect of returning to Wang’s backyard, despite what took place their last time out on the mainland.
“I have fought in China before and I am happy to fight in China again,” he explained.
“The crowd there, the people there are fight lovers, they have a love for the fights. I hope to entertain the crowd and the viewers just like I did the last time in Bangkok.”
The Thai crowds are notoriously partisan, and Ennahachi showed no signs of being overwhelmed during his convincing victory over Petchdam in the capital, where his finishing shots drew the sold-out arena into a deathly silence.
“After the fight I became much more confident and trained much harder,” said Ennahachi.
“I really have to put every round to my name and go for it 100 percent. Whether it is a championship or a single fight, I have to give it my all in every round.”
That victory has ignited Ennahachi’s confidence and he plans to ride that wave of momentum into what he expects to be a comprehensive title defence.
He insists he has no concern about the threats posed by Wang, and believes he just needs to execute his game-plan and put together his unique striking arsenal together the way he knows he can,
“Compared to others in ONE Championship, my motility and style are different. You can’t compare my style to somebody else. I’m a different kind of fighter. I’m very confident for this fight because I’m sure no one is training harder than me.”
“We will see on that day what his weak spots and strong points are. I already fought him twice, and I beat him twice,” he added.
“But whoever I face, it doesn’t matter because I have to defend my title and I have to make sure it stays with me.”
That resolve is part of Ennahachi’s nature. Fighting and martial arts run through his blood. His father and uncles all practiced karate, but when his cousins brought him to one of their kickboxing classes he was instantly hooked.
Family remains one of his driving forces to this day, with his ever-present father constantly driving him to improve, while the discipline demanded from martial arts ensuring he stayed on the right track.
“Martial arts gave me more stability. That, together with the things my father told me, opened my eyes. I chose to focus on martial arts 100% and then everything started to go well, and I couldn’t stop.”
You can guarantee that same tunnel vision determination will be on show at the Cadillac Arena on Saturday.
“I want to show the people a better match than my latest match against Petchdam and stay as champion.”