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First a declaration: this is not a shot against Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga.
For the record, I reiterate my opinion that she clearly had won her bout against “Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham last September 3, 2021.
Further, I like Zamboanga’s confidence when she talks smack, especially she is campaigning in a stacked division full of legit title contenders, including two other Filipinos, Team Lakay’s Jenelyn Olsim and Gina Iniong.
I also love how she was not backing up against reigning ONE World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, whom she engaged a verbal tussle since the champion started a lengthy absence due to her pregnancy.
This is about wishing the No. 1 Women’s Strawweight Contender to stay focused in chasing the ONE Women’s Strawweight title, not losing sight of the thing that, in the first place, caused her to talk thrash against her rivals.
The “Lycan Queen” definitely have evidences to back up her smack talk but the upholding of her recent loss by the ONE Competition Committee is a sign to mellow the talk down and pump the action up.
While I agree that Zamboanga’s trashtalking is not just all bark without a bite, her rivals have made good points of their own that say enough of the talking.
This is where I differ with Zamboanga’s stance: her accomplishments are not enough to demand Lee to vacate her title and refusing to accept that Ham’s landing a good number of left fists to her face may have swayed the judges to tag her loser.
Here is Ham’s take on her win: “Takedowns or the clinch, she wasn’t advancing her position. She wasn’t really effective. Damage-wise, I believe I was clearly winning.”, she said.
I disagree but these are good points. It is not outrageous for others to agree as Ham did efficiently landed the more telling blows.
Their bout was really close and could have gone either way. Her last minute slam was the key turning point in my opinion but it’s not totally out of the realm that some fight judges may see this as a desperation attempt. The split decision confirms how close the bout is.
When she came out firing her line of Lee not waiting for ONE to strip her of the title so she could immediately have a crack at it, I wondered how would ONE react considering her success in ONE came against suspect opposition even if she was named top contender.
Given she had only three fights in ONE, asking a titleholder to voluntary vacate her throne so as she could have a chance to occupy it while implying ONE is hesitant to strip it from her is disrespectful to a champion who has held the title since capturing the inaugural belt in 2016 and the world-class organization who have shown little to no biases when it comes to fight results and titles changing hands.
This aspect wasn’t obviously lost in Lee’s eyes. Here’s Lee’s take on her vacating the title:
“I don’t think [beating Mei Yamaguchi] qualifies her to be the number one contender. The other girls that she fought were not even ranked. The atomweight division is stacked with at least 10 top talents,” Lee fired then.
She feels the No. 1 contender had been talking smack without really proving her worth. Lee strongly expressed her displeasure about the demand.
I have to give it creedence to both her stances.
For the record, Zamboanga’s two other victories came against fellow rising star Jihin Radzuan, who was 5-1 before they faced, and Watsapinya Kaewkhong, who was making her MMA debut fight.
Yamaguchi was 21-11-1 when she faced Zamboaga.
If Lee is willing to work her way back to The Circle from childbirth after a reasonable time, the “Unstoppable” should be the champion until she isn’t. Beating her in the Circle is the right way to loss the belt.
I felt Zamboanga was fortunate to be named top contender in-spite of being 8-0 given the caliber of opponents she took out.
These being said, Zamboanga needs to flush out the trashtalking and focus on the action from now onwards.
Making demands for a superstar to vacate a title and insinuating an organization to strip a championship belt are not far from being interpreted as display of entitlement and arrogance, aren’t they?
To top it all, her protestations on the result of her last fight that somewhat forced ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong to send the fight for review by a committee of experts just confirmed Lee’s allegations of her being entitled.
Sityodtong was nothing but fair and accomodating to Zamboanga. He did her enough favors that allowed her establish a brand in ONE.
He gave her a premature title shot, subjected the questioned results to review, expressed his opinion that she won the fight, expressed his interest of still seeing a Zamboanga-Lee title fight, and not leaving her dry as by penciling her to face Julie Mezabarba, who also made Yamaguchi a victim in the Circle, in an alternate bout for the grand prix.
Zamboanga’s letting go off Grand Prix quarterfinals missed opportunity will do her a lot of good. A few more wins against notable fighters would surely not hurt but rather increased her popularity and fight stock.
It’s time to back up words with ring results. It’s time accept all challenges thrown at her even if she had to take out all comers, including other top contenders.
It’s time to give ONE Championship a free hand to decide how Lee, the promotion’s resident prime lady superstar, defend or loss her title in view of the very valid excuse of being unable to defend it for quite sometime.
It’s time for her to accept the fact that she will be facing tougher opponents that will match her caliber as she goes up the ladder in the women’s atomweight division and she has to take all of them out if she intends to take Lee’s title away.
Ham is a legit title contender and the jduges made their decision. Acknowledging her mistakes and what she could have done to impress the jduges more will help her beat Mezabarba in her next fight.
A win over over Mezabarba would be a nice start to repair and reverse entitled, ignorant of ONE rules, and sore loser impressions that were inadvertently created by her thrashtalking that went haywire.
Zamboanga, still young at 24, is not boxed and would have several more opportunities for a title shot despite the cancellation of her first attempt.
By Armando M. Bolislis