Superbon Banchamek makes the first defense of his featherweight kickboxing title on Saturday and gets the chance to avenge an earlier knockout loss at the hands of Marat Grigorian. This will be the second time the two have met and the Thai won’t have fond memories of the first fight.

They faced off in the final of the Kunlun Fight World Max tournament in 2018. Grigorian managed to knock Superbon out in under a minute but the Thai has won 11 fights in a row since that devastating defeat.

The winning streak culminated in a famous stoppage win over Giorgio Petrosyan at ONE: ‘First Strike’ which earned him the featherweight kickboxing belt. Grigorian’s path to a title shot has been more fortuitous, he withdrew from the featherweight kickboxing Grand Prix after contracting Covid-19.

Superbon kicks Sittichiai Sitsongpeenong in a kickboxing contest in Bangkok

Painful loss

But Superbon is just happy he has the chance to avenge one of the most painful losses of his career,

“I have wanted to fight Marat for a long time now, ever since I lost by KO to him. He is the only fighter in the current rankings, that has managed to beat me recently. If I am able to beat him this time I can say for sure that I have beaten everyone in this division.”

The loss to Grigorian made Superbon take a long, hard look at himself and he feels in the four years that have elapsed since he has made a lot of improvements to his game. The champion also hinted that he might tweak his style slightly for this fight,

“The best way to fight him is to not let his shots land on anywhere they will be their most dangerous. I may change my style this time too, from sitting back and looking to use my timing to counter, I may be the one pushing forward and opening up with a lot more shots and looking to hit the target as much as possible.”

Superbon kicks Giorgio Petrosyan at ONE: 'First Strike' in Singapore

Power punches

Superbon is well aware of the risks involved in taking on a power puncher like Grigorian. But he is confident he has made the necessary adjustments,

“Since I lost to him, I have worked hard on improving where I made mistakes and I feel my technique has come on a lot. With Marat I can see the real danger is in the power of his punches, but I don’t think they are so powerful that they are impossible to defend.”

Despite the emphatic win which Grigorian secured in their last contest Superbon is adamant he should be the favourite for this fight,

“Do I feel like the underdog? No, absolutely not. I see big progress from four years ago when I faced him. Back in that tournament, I had to fight two matches in one night, so I had trained differently for that fight. Now I am able to be more focused, only on him. And I’m sure I’ll beat him this time. You never know for sure, but maybe everyone will get to see the high kick from me again.”

Superbon celebrates after knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan to win the ONE Championship featherweight kickboxing title

Better and better

The knockout of Petrosyan sent shockwaves through the kickboxing world. It helped Superb establish himself as a truly global star but he is not ready to rest on his laurels,

“More people recognize my name. More people talk about me. I have reached the highest level of success but I still have many goals. Now that I have reached the top, it’s my responsibility to work harder than usual to maintain this position as long as possible. I want to do better and better.”