MANILA, Philippines -- Unbeaten atomweight contender Denice "The Menace" Zamboanga has accepted the challenge of ONE women's atomweight champion Angela Lee of Singapore, and is now fully focused on competing for the world title next year.
Lee, who has held the atomweight belt since 2016, has shown no inclination of relinquishing her title despite being pregnant. She has also made it clear that she does not think Zamboanga has done enough to merit her status as No. 1 contender to her belt.
She and Zamboanga engaged in a war of words last week, with the Filipino repeatedly calling on Lee to vacate her title. Lee fired back by saying that Zamboanga should instead prove herself in the upcoming atomweight Grand Prix.
"I think that Denice should have to face the top 10 girls first to truly prove herself as the number one contender, and the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship is the perfect way to do that," said Lee, who called Zamboanga "entitled" on social media.
ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed plans to hold the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship, shortly after Lee announced that she and husband Bruno Pucci were expecting their first child together, due early next year.
Although details of the tournament, including dates, venues, and a confirmed list of athletes competing have yet to be officially announced by ONE Championship, Zamboanga, who ranks just behind the champion as the top contender, is expected to be among the eight athletes to take part.
For now, Zamboanga has decided to put calls for Lee to vacate her title on hold, and instead accept Lee's challenge to compete in the Grand Prix, but not without taking a final shot at the champion.
"I am so pumped for this tournament," said Zamboanga. "I'm looking forward to competing for this ultra prestigious title. This will be the most challenging competition that no female fighter in ONE Championship history has ever faced."
"To all the other female fighters who will be competing, it will be an honor to face you all in this tournament," she added.
"A lot of people want to see me and Angela fight, so I will get the Grand Prix belt and then I'm on to the atomweight world title at the end of 2021."
In a recent ONE Championship worldwide conference call, Sityodtong teased the first round of the Atomweight Grand Prix to commence early next year.
"I anticipate the Atomweight Grand Prix to start in January, and just in time the winner of the Grand Prix will then face Angela Lee when she returns," Sityodtong told media.
Setting animosity aside, Zamboanga has one last message for Lee, as she begins preparations for the Atomweight Grand Prix in the coming months.
"Take care always and have a safe and happy pregnancy. See you in 2021," Zamboanga said.