Superlek Kiatmoo9 and Panpayak Jitmuangnon have fought each other six times. But the seventh meeting at ONE: ‘No Surrender’ promises to be a totally new experience for both men.

Superlek thinks this will work to his advantage. With no fans in attendance, and no-one gambling on the outcome he expects to be able to outclass his old adversary,

“When we fought before it was often difficult with the way the fights are scored in Thailand and the influence from the gambling odds on what I needed to do to get the win. With the fight set at three rounds and no influence from the gambling side of things, it will come down to the scoring weapons more, so I think it will make things more even this time.”

Rare opportunity

It is rare for two top drawer Thai stadium fighters to meet outside of Lumpinee or Rajadamnern stadiums. But the Covid-19 situation has produced some unexpected opportunities for some of Thailand’s best to finally face off against each other, outside of the main stadiums.

The Covid-19 situation disrupted training routines for most fighters. But Superlek says that he stayed in shape even though there were no fights to prepare for,

“I have had no problems training for the fight, I kept myself in shape throughout, working on my fitness and strength and conditioning and hitting the bag.”

As a result he was able to transition seamlessly from training alone under lockdown conditions to pitting together a full fight camp,

“Once we got the word that I could have a fight at the end of July, I started to step things up and will have had a strong six weeks to prepare for the match. Panpayak can be very difficult to fight, he has a very sharp left kick and can be very elusive and likes to move away a lot.”

Pushing on

Superlek knows he will need to push the pace against the southpaw technician,

“I know I have to push forward a lot and make sure I get close to him. He is also a little vulnerable to hard punches, so with us using the small 4oz gloves, I have been working on my boxing a lot more than usual and will be looking to test his defenses and chin with that. I am about 80-90% confident I will get the win, but we will have to see what happens during the fight and adjust to how the fight is going.”

The stakes for this fight are high with Panpayak currently ranked at number one and Superlek number two in the flyweight division.  The winner will be in pole position for a shot at the Muay Thai title.

Superlek isn’t focused on that for the time being. He knows he will have his hands full dealing with three time Sports Writer’s ‘Fighter of the Year’ Panpayak,

“I don’t really think too much about my next fight or who I want to fight I just want to focus on what is in front of me now and that is Panpayak on the 31st, I don’t want to make the mistake of looking past this fight.”

Thinking forwards

Superlek at the age of 24 still has plenty of fight time ahead of him and his technical style means he hasn’t accumulated a lot of damage in his career. He has a good idea of where he wants to focus now though and also a potential career once he does decide to hang up the gloves.

“I am happy to carry on fighting as long as I can and my body allows me to compete at the highest level. I will fight back at the stadiums also but if I had the choice I would prefer to fight predominantly on ONE Championship.”

However he has already started making plans for his  retirement and has opened a gym with a former adversary who also happens to be on the ONE Championship roster,

“This is a great opportunity to earn good money for the future and there is little pressure like you get fighting in the stadiums from the gambling side of things. I have already started a gym up in my home province of Buriram, I started the gym together with Sam-A Gaiyanghadao and we have a few young fighters there now.”