Denice Zamboanga was supposed to challenge Angela Lee for the ONE atomweight title.
But the pandemic closed down international borders, forcing the Thailand-based Pinay to take on Watsapinya “Dream Girl” Kaewkhong in a tuneup match this weekend in Bangkok.
Zamboanga said she looked at the tuneup as a championship fight.
"Ang sinasabi nila tuneup ko lang ito kay Angela Lee," she said in an online presser for ONE: A New Breed. "Tinake advantage ko na nandito ako sa Thailand at makakalaban ako."
"Tinuturing ko na rin na Angela Lee-level ang laban na ito."
She was forced to make adjustments with the change of opponents, but her training remained the same as far as conditioning went.
"S'yempre yung game plan s'yempre, iba na po," said Zamboanga. "Pero yung conditioning is the same."
The unbeaten Zamboanga earned her title shot by dismantling erstwhile atomweight contender Mei Yamaguchi of Japan in February.
The ONE fight card this Friday will also feature the ONE debut of Zamboanga's older brother, Drex who will take on Detchadin “Detchpool” Sornsirisuphathin of Thailand.
"Sobrang excited ako at masaya ako kasi kasama ko si Kuya, makakasama ko siya sa isang big event. Medyo natutupad ang pangarap ko," Denice said.
Drex's presence in Thailand is important for Zamboanga, who recently parted ways with her old gym Fairtex.
Zamboanga, however, said she remained friends with her co-trainers and former coaches at Fairtex although she had differences with the management.
"Sensitive kasi ang naging reason kaya hindi ko rin masabi sa public kasi ayaw ko rin silang mailagay sa bad light. Pero 'yung mga teammate ko at coaches walang problema. Sobrang love ko sila," she said.
What Zamboanga hopes to happen with her brother is that they become the Filipino version of ONE's sibling champions Angela and Christian Lee.
"Hopefully kapag naging successful kami sa mga susunod na laban. Gusto kong maging brother-sister champions," she said.
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