MANILA, Philippines — A lot has changed in a six-month span that seemed like forever, but for Denice Zamboanga, her inspiring win in just her second ONE Championship match feels as if it was just yesterday.
Zamboanga, who was a huge underdog at that time, went toe-to-toe with veteran title contender Mei Yamaguchi and it was the younger Filipino fighter who eventually got her hand raised in ONE: King of the Jungle in Singapore last February.
“That win really built up my confidence because I was the underdog in that fight and it’s a different feeling when you win over a top contender,” said Zamboanga (7-0) in Filipino during a Zoom press conference Wednesday.
“Despite taking the win, I’m still not letting my guard down. I’m not complacent in my next fight or even in training that’s why I train to the fullest.”
That victory propelled the 23-year-old Zamboanga into the title picture and challenge for Angela Lee’s world atomweight crown.
However, the current COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.
Instead of a showdown with Lee, Zamboanga will first have to fight Watsyapinya Kaewkhong due to border restrictions imposed globally.
Still stationed in Thailand, Zamboanga had no choice but to take on a fighter already living in the country.
Kaewkhong will make her professional debut against Zamboanga and this time it’s the Filipino who has the advantage in experience in their strawweight bout for ONE: A New Breed at Impact Arena in Bangkok.
Despite her distinct edge over her Thai opponent, Zamboanga said she can’t allow herself to let up one bit.
“It’s a different debut when it’s your debut in ONE and you’re thinking that you have to win because it’s your first time and you’re the underdog,” said Zamboanga.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.