Denice Zamboanga reacted to a statement made by ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee, who said the Filipina fighter has not done enough to deserve a title shot.
Zamboanga, 23, who has yet to taste defeat in 5 bouts, said Lee should vacate the title as courtesy for taking an expected hiatus due to pregnancy.
"I have proven myself to the world. I am the number one contender. I earn it through beating world class opponents," Zamboanga said through her social media account.
She was deemed to be the next challenger for Lee's atomweight crown after a dominant performance against former title contender Mei Yamaguchi early this year.
Zamboanga said Lee barely beat Yamaguchi in their bouts.
"I believe Angela was very fortunate to win. She was in trouble most of the time during that fight. I was never in trouble during (my) fight. Mei is a great fighter and I have a lot of respect for her. In my opinion, she is a better fighter than Angela," Zamboanga said.
Lee said the Filipina fighter should continue to prove herself.
“Honestly, even though Denice beat Mei Yamaguchi, I don’t think that alone qualifies her to be the No. 1 contender. The other girls that she fought were not even ranked. The atomweight division is stacked with at least 10 top talents,” she said.
Lee's pregnancy has paved the way for the ONE Championship Atomweight Grand Prix, set for first quarter 2021.
Whoever wins the Grand Prix will face Lee when she returns.
“I think that hosting a Grand Prix for the atomweight division is the perfect way to truly determine who deserves the next shot at the title. This tournament will be the ultimate test of who’s the true number one contender,” Lee said.
"She made a choice to become a mother, which is great. I am very happy for her. However, she (should) do the respectable thing and vacate the championship belt herself and do have to wait for the organization to ask," Zamboanga said.
"Be the respectable champion as I always know her to be. When she's ready to come back I will be waiting for her."