Moroccan Italian Joseph Lasiri has a chance to make history this weekend as he attempts to cross that divide of two divisions and become a two-weight world champion.
The current ONE strawweight world Muay Thai world champion, will take on Rodtang Jitmuangnon for the flyweight crown at ONE Fight Night 4 in the Singapore Indoor Stadium this weekend.
Having spent six years in ONE, Lasiri had had to be patient in finding success – he lost his first four fights with the organisation – but a career-defining win last time out over Prajanchai PK.Saenchai to claim the strawweight title has catapulted him among the very best in the sport.
His heart has never been in question, and his current three-fight win streak is the result of years of hard work training under some of the most respected names in his homeland of Italy but also in Thailand.
Now, at the age of 31, he has the opportunity to do something only a select band of martial artists will ever do – hold titles at two weights simultaneously.
Standing in his path is Rodtang, a man already a legend in his own right. A fighter who had clocked up more than 250 wins by the time he was 21, he has held the ONE flyweight Muay Thai world title for more than three years, and has never been defeated in the promotion.
Lasiri’s win over Prajanchai was a surprise, a win this weekend would be seismic.
“I see the fight in different ways,” he explained. “I see Joseph Lasiri winning easily. I see Joseph Lasiri working hard until the last round with more difficulty but winning. I see Joseph Lasiri [as someone who is] not prepared for this fight. I see many scenarios in my mind and I try to focus on the good one, the easy one. When you go inside the fight, try to counter him, try to play poker with him. There are many things in my mind, it’s very difficult to explain. But me, I’ve been training Muay Thai for more than 15 years, 20 years, so I’m ready for anything in the ring.”
Collecting one title shot Lasiri to stardom, but he feels a second would further reinforce his standing in the sport and inspire those around him and his followers around the world.
“What I’m really looking forward to is going there to do my job, and make it an opportunity to be an inspiration for my team, my family, and the people around me,” he said. “Because they said the sad thing is, sometimes you can be an inspiration only when you bring the gold. When you don’t bring the gold, sometimes the people forget you, but it’s not my problem. But if I bring the gold, I am sure more people will listen to me, my story, my hard work so I want that. I want to win this belt and challenge myself first, and be proud of myself, and try everything, to make it an opportunity to be an inspiration to all the people who follow me.”
When it comes to a game plan, Lasiri is focusing on allowing Rodtang to come forward and then exploit any gaps with counter striking.
“Everybody knows Rodtang, for me it’s great but I’m focused on my training to go inside the cage and be focused on my work and do the work. You have to expect Rodtang forward, you cannot beat Rodtang more technically. But what is more comfortable? Fight Rodtang forward or fight Rodtang technically. To me, I think it’s more comfortable to fight Rodtang if it’s forward. So, the game plan is to make Rodtang angry and then he will come to me.”
In defeating Prajanchai, Lasiri forced his opponent to retire in between rounds, and this is a scenario he wants to see play out again this weekend.
“My beautiful dream is when I fight Rodtang it will be like Prajanchai. He comes back in the corner and he doesn’t come back to do the next round. This is my best dream, and I see it many times.”
You can see if he is successful in that wish this weekend.
ONE Fight Night 4: Abbasov vs. Lee takes place Saturday November 19 5am GST at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Arena, Singapore. This is a night not to be missed so mark your calendars, download the ONE Super App, and go to watch.onefc.com now!