Denice Zamboanga. Photo from ONE Championship

MANILA, Philippines — Unbeaten Denice Zamboanga fired back at Angela Lee after the ONE atomweight queen said the Filipino has yet to prove herself as the number one contender for the title.

Zamboanga didn’t pull any punches and even suggested that Lee should vacate the championship while she undergoes pregnancy. Lee announced her pregnancy on Friday with her due date on April 21, 2021.

“I have proven myself to the world. I am the number one contender. I earn[ed] it through beating world class opponents. I have already face[d] Mei Yamaguchi, the fighter that almost beat Angela,” Zamboanga wrote on Instagram Wednesday.

“The fight I believe Angela was very fortunate to win. She was in trouble most of the time during that fight. I was never in trouble during that fight. Mei is a great fighter and I have a lot of respect for her. In my opinion she is a better fighter than Angela.”

Lee fought Mei Yamaguchi twice for the title and beat her by unanimous decision on both occasions.

“Angela is the world champion she should do the right thing like all the great champion does. She should give the respect other fighter[s] deserve and most importantly she should not resist vacating the Championship belt since she can not defend it,” added Zamboanga.

The 23-year-old Zamboanga became the top contender to Lee’s crown after scoring an impressive unanimous decision victory over Yamaguchi last February.

She then followed it up with a first-round submission over Watsyapinya Kaewkhong two months ago for her fifth consecutive victory.

The 24-year-old Lee has successfully defended her belt four times since claiming it in 2016.

Lee, however, hasn’t fought since her submission win over Xiong Jingnan in their rematch in October of last year and it will take a while before she makes her return.

“She made a choice to become a mother, which is great I am very happy for her. However she [should] do the respectable thing and [vacate] the Championship belt herself and [not] wait for the organization to ask,” Zamboanga said.

“I am surprised that she hasn’t made the announcement to [vacate] the belt. Most great champion[s] would [have] done this straight away as soon as they know they can not defend the belt for the personal reason,” she added. “I hope she does the right thing and [make] the announcement herself. Be the respectable champion as I always know her to be.”

Shortly after Lee’s pregnancy post, ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that there will be an Atomweight World Grand Prix next year with the winner earning the right to face Lee for the title.

But Zamboanga already has an idea as to who that might be.

“When she [is] ready to come back I will be waiting for her. 😘”

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