Ellis Badr Barboza will finally have his chance to shine on December 8th, when ONE Fight Night 17: Kryklia vs. Roberts airs on Prime Video in the United States.
Despite the significant weight increase, the 23-year-old British fighter is excited to show his international fan base what he can do in a 120-pound catchweight Muay Thai combat in Bangkok against Thai superstar Thongpoon PK Saenchai.
The man referred to as “El Jefe” isn’t slack-jawed about the chance, and his primary motivation is to begin his ascent among the world’s top strikers.
He gave an interview to onefc.com just before his fight at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium:
“I’m so excited. But, surprisingly, it just feels very normal. Mentally, I’ve been here so many times, thinking about it in my head, and now it’s here. I’m very excited to perform. I know it’s a step up, but I’m excited to prove myself on this stage.
“It’s everything I’ve dreamt of. Since before the lockdown. Since I was really young. So, it’s mad that we’re now here. This is where the real hard work will be.”
The native of Birmingham has built a solid name in the region as the best athlete in his weight class and as a WBC European and International Muay Thai Champion; yet, he is aware that ONE Championship gives him a fresh start.
The top martial artists in the world compete in the biggest organization, so Barboza is ready to put his achievements in the past and start a new chapter in his life.
It was stated in the Fairtex Training Center product:
“To me, [the other titles] feel like nothing. I feel like the bottom of the pile. Not in my ability, but with the things I have to prove. I mean, sure, I’m number one in the UK, but what does that really mean?
“The best in the world are here in ONE Championship. I don’t let that success get to my head. For me, it’s like, ‘OK, now I’ve got someone real tough in front of me. I need to stay humble and make sure I’m ready for this.’
“I’ve always felt like I belong here, so now, I have to cement it.”
From his March debut in the ONE Friday Fights event series till his forthcoming bout against Ellis Badr Barboza, Thongpoon PK Saenchai has looked fantastic.
The Thai heavyweight won his first two fights via knockout in a total of 44 seconds. He then earned a six-figure ONE contract with a difficult decision victory over Yangdam Jitmuangnon.
Thongpoon is a formidable opponent, but Barboza thinks the combative PK Saenchai Muaythaigym rep has some vulnerabilities:
“I’ll say his strength is his first minute. His boxing is good, for sure. His left hand is strong, as is his aggression, his spirit, his heart. But that is something that doesn’t always win fights. It can, but there are definitely holes in his game.
“The people he’s fought in ONE, he knocked them out in the first round, so we haven’t yet had the chance to see these holes opened. I thought Yangdam managed the best against him. But I definitely think there’s gaps to be exploited within this guy.”
Some opponents may find Thongpoon’s quick early speed and hard punching too much to handle, but the Englishman remains unfazed.
Barboza, on the other hand, is sure he possesses the tenacity and competence to triumph against it. After surviving the initial assault, he intends to unleash his full fury on his opponent.
“El Jefe” chimed in:
“For Thongpoon, I think my strength is going to be my kicking. He can’t kick like me, for sure. He hasn’t got the distance management like me. He’s good in one distance, which is close range, whereas I can fight in long and close and mix in different fakes and different shots. I think I’m a lot more versatile than him.
“I think I’ll get the stoppage in the second round. I think he’ll have a strong first round unless I find a nice little shot there. I think I’ll weather [his offense] because I want it more than he realizes. I ain’t gonna just fall over in the first round.
“I’ll break his spirit, and that’s when we find the magic.”