They say never meet your heroes, but Jo Nattawut will do exactly that on Friday night at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR.
He’ll be doing it slightly differently than most fans, though. Rather than simply meeting his idol for a handshake or maybe a selfie, Nattawut will stand toe-to-toe with his hero, and trade leather for three three-minute rounds of elite-level kickboxing action.
That’s because Nattawut’s hero is none other than Giorgio Petrosyan, pound-for-pound kickboxing superstar and new signing for ONE Super Series, which kicks off this weekend in Manila.
Nattawut is certainly no slouch himself. A two-division Lion Fight World Champion, the Thai comes armed with plenty of experience and technical skill.
He’ll need it against Petrosyan, but he says he’s ready to put his skills on display and test himself against the man many consider to be the very best in the sport.
“I have been watching him fight for a long time. He is one of my favorite athletes,” the 28-year-old told ONE Championship.
“I think it is a really fun challenge. I mean, he is my favorite competitor, and then I will be in the ring with him. It is really cool, and it is a really cool feeling.
“It is a really interesting match-up. He is really good, and everybody wants to face the best. If you want to be good, and if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Petrosyan’s footwork is as impressive as his striking skills, as he’s effectively mastered the elusive art of hitting without getting hit. It’s led to a string of titles and a well-deserved reputation as a true master of his art.
However, Nattawut has dedicated countless hours to studying Petrosyan’s movement and technique, and says he’s ready to push the pace on the Armenian and put him on the back foot. Then, he says, he’ll be in the perfect position to unleash his own powerful strikes.
“He is really good at the counter attack, and he always does that. I think it is really going to be like that this time as well. That is how I think he is going to come at me,” Nattawut explained.
“It is very simple, but he does everything perfectly. Every single bout, it is so hard to get close to him. To me, my idea is I want to put pressure [on him]. I do not go backwards. He is really good, but I want to throw more combos, and I think over time he will open up. We have to get close, that is first.
“Everybody has a plan, but once you get into the ring, it is a different situation. When you work a training camp, everything is going perfect. Then you get in the ring, and that is when you really figure things out.”
The bout offers a tantalising double opportunity for Nattawut. Not only does he get the chance to face his hero in the ring, but he knows that victory will see his stock rise exponentially as he looks to kick-start a new chapter of his career in ONE Super Series.
“I think this could be my home for a long time,” the Thai said.
“They have really good marketing, and they are all over Asia. I think it would be the next step for me to work with them, and take myself to the next level.”
One thing’s for sure – winning against Petrosyan would certainly do that.