An opportunity to stage his first World Title defense in front of his countrymen brings back good memories for “The Baby Shark” Petchdam Petchyindee Academy.
“The Baby Shark” struck gold the first time in his hometown of Bangkok, winning the inaugural ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title at ONE: WARRIORS OF LIGHT in May.
On Friday, 16 August, the reigning titleholder will put his World Championship on the line against llias Ennahachi in the main event of ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD.
While home crowds can lend support, it also places pressure on national heroes to perform at their best, but Petchdam has no intention of disappointing his Thai fans.
“I’m feeling a little bit of pressure because I don’t want to lose in Thailand,” Petchdam said. “It is also my first time fighting the main event, and it’s a World Title defense too.”
To shake off his nerves heading into this contest, Petchdam urges his fellow Thais to come out in full force for this event.
“I want to ask the Thai people to come and cheer for me once again. In my last fight, the support I received from the Thai people helped me win,” he explained.
With 115 Muay Thai bouts to his credit, Petchdam believes the challenge in this match lies in adjusting to kickboxing rules.
So far, Petchdam remains undefeated, and the 21-year-old superstar has demonstrated that he can transition from “the art of eight limbs” to kickboxing.
“The Baby Shark” dispatched Masahide “Crazy Rabbit” Kudo and Elias “The Sniper” Mahmoudi en route to capturing his ONE Flyweight World Title.
Three knockouts later and keen to extend his victorious campaign, the Ubon Ratchathani native admits he still has room to improve.
“I’ve only fought kickboxing twice now, I really need to train harder and get my speed up,” Petchdam explained. “My last fight was still too Muay Thai style. I’m also studying the rule set too, to try to catch up.”
Unlike his previous opponents, Petchdam will be facing a true kickboxing specialist in llias Ennahachi.
The Dutch-Moroccan striker is well credentialed: he is a six-time World Champion and holds an incredible 34-3 professional record.
“My opponent is a highly-accomplished kickboxer with more experience than me. He competes exclusively in this rule set, and has been doing so for a long time,” Petchdam said.
Regardless of the threat Ennahachi poses, Petchdam has faith that his preparations will see him through this contest and believes he can catch his rival unaware with a surprise victory.
“I think the biggest danger he possesses will be his speed, but that he might not be as hardened as the Thais that I face regularly in competition,” Petchdam said. “I think that if I can get in and land a close shot, there might be an opportunity for a KO.”
A powerful roundhouse left kick has become a reliable staple in Petchdam’s arsenal, and the Thai will have no problem testing Ennahachi with it come 16 August.
Petchdam, though, still thinks his greatest weapon lies in the roar of the Thai crowd and believes their passionate support can carry over into the Circle and propel him to victory.
“I’m asking for the support of the Thai people to come see me at the Impact Arena and cheer me on, and to help cheer on the other Thai athletes on the card too,” Petchdam said. “Thank you for your support and helping to keep us motivated.”
Watch ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD on 16 August beginning with the prelims on the ONE Super App at 6:30pm SGT.