By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
AFTER successfully building its legs in mixed martial arts, ONE Championship’s evolution continues, turning its sights on other ventures that would help it enhance its standing as the “true home of martial arts.”
One of its latest foray is in boxing, entering recently in a co-promotion partnership with Thailand-based Nakornloung Promotion.
The organizations are co-promoting the world title defense of WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the main event of ONE: Kingdom of Heroes, which is set to take place at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct. 6.
They hope that through the collaboration they get to do their part in infusing some life back in the somewhat ebbing interest in, and popularity of, the sport, especially in this part of the world.
The idea for ONE to dip its hand in boxing was already known months ago when it launched the Super Series, which it said was created with the purpose of showcasing the purest forms of striking arts such as muay thai and kickboxing on the biggest and most prestigious stage of competition.
ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said then that boxing is also part of their plans moving forward, hinting at plans to establish a professional boxing league in addition to the ONE Super Series, and inviting boxers from all over the globe to join the promotion.
“When we started seven years ago, nobody wanted to talk to us. They didn’t even want to work with us. Of course, that changed eventually. We have experienced such exponential growth in all areas. If we could do for it mixed martial arts, we can do it for boxing as well,” said Mr. Sityodtong as they unveiled the partnership with Nakornloung Promotion.
He went on to highlight the huge boxing history in Asia that has seen world champions like Manny Pacquiao, Gerry Peñalosa, Pancho Villa, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Chang Jung-Koo, Yoko Gushiken and Yuh Myung-Woo, among others, rise from it.
With ONE Championship trying its hand in boxing, Mr. Sityodtong said he believes that the organization will breathe new life into the sport in Asia to produce more topnotch fighters.
“I consider ONE Championship as the caretaker of every form of martial arts in the world, including boxing. We will make sure that the new generation of boxers in Asia will be fully nurtured. The legacy that Manny Pacquiao and other boxing greats have created must continue. We are reaching out. We shall grow together,” he said.
Incidentally, ONE has offered to co-promote the next fight of Mr. Pacquiao, who returned to form against Argentinean Lucas Matthysse last month in seizing the WBA world welterweight title by way of technical knockout in the seventh round.