Denice Zamboanga in a ONE Championship match. ONE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The moment Denice Zamboanga scored an upset win over Mei Yamaguchi in February, she knew that her next fight would be against ONE World atomweight champion Angela Lee.

Those plans, however, took a backseat as the world got engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zamboanga had two choices—either wait for the pandemic to be handled or fight. She chose the latter.

Training in Thailand during the pandemic, Zamboanga received an offer to fight Watsapinya Kaewkhong in the meantime and the Filipino martial artist didn’t let the opportunity go to waste and proceeded to treat the bout as if she’s up against a champion.

“She (Watsapinya) had good control, but I think I was just able to overpower her. Of course, I couldn’t afford to lose that fight. My goal was to get the win and nothing else,” said Zamboanga.

“I didn’t expect to submit her so easily, by Americana no less. I wanted to strike with her, that’s what I was planning to do. But the submission was there, so I took the chance and I got the win. That’s the important thing.”

Zamboanga (7-0) took little to no time in dealing with Kaewkhong, who made her ONE Championship debut at A New Breed, using her grappling to good use and going for the submission the moment she got the opening.

The win not only extended Zamboanga’s winning run but gave her some added experience before her title fight against Lee. When that bout will happen, however, is still unknown.

“Once the world goes back to normal, I think I’m ready to face Angela. She’s my idol. But if the situation stays like this for some time, and if ONE Championship is giving me the chance to fight again, then I’ll take another fight,” said Zamboanga.

Despite her overwhelming victory against Kaewkhong, Zamboanga couldn’t help but feel anxious a few bouts before hers during the card.

Zamboanga’s older brother Drex was also making his ONE debut and that alone brought some jitters to the no.1 atomweight contender.

“To be honest, I was more on edge watching my brother fight more than I was nervous for mine. That was his ONE Championship debut, so he really needed to win. I’m glad we were both able to win. This night was a milestone in our careers,” said Zamboanga.

Fortunately, Drex came away with the second round submission win over Detchadin Sornsirisuphathin.


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