‘Smokin’ Jo Nattawut prepares for one last world title push
At 34 years old, “Smokin” Jo Nattawut knows that the time is now to kick off a run at the ONE featherweight Muay Thai world title.
As such, the Thai knockout artist can’t slip up when he faces highly-rated promotional newcomer Luke Lessei in the ONE Fight Night 17: Kryklia vs. Roberts co-headliner at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok this weekend.
Nattawut was involved in a “Fight of the Year” contender in his return to ONE Championship when he stepped in on short notice to face ONE featherweight Muay Thai world champion Tawanchai PK Saenchai in a kickboxing battle for the ages at ONE Fight Night 15 this past October.
While he narrowly came up short when the scorecards were announced, the fourth-ranked featherweight Muay Thai contender’s performance proved that he still belongs among the sport’s elite.
Nattawut took confidence from the fight nonetheless, but he still has one eye on the finish line after a stellar career that has yielded 71 professional victories.
“To me, my body is still ready. It’s still good. I can see my body is still up there at the top. After the fight, you know, I didn’t feel pain at all. I just got ready and jumped right into training camp, which is good,” he said.
“I just turned 34, and I’m at my last gas tank right now. Any fight can be my last fight. So my ultimate goal, the goal is I want to fight – I want to fight for the title before I retire.
“Because I’m not the guy saying, ‘Oh, I’m gonna fight until 40, until 38.’ No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Me? Maybe like one year, maybe another half year. Who knows?”
If Nattawut is to embark on a fairytale run at divisional gold, he will have to get past Lessei this weekend.
The unpredictable American comes to ONE with a big reputation earned by reeling off five straight knockouts on the regional circuit.
The dangers that his upcoming opponent presents are not lost on Nattawut, but the Thai Top Team representative insists that he prefers to focus on his journey.
“With his style, he likes to play a lot. He’s a tricky guy and plays a lot. Yeah, that’s it. That’s what we see,” he said.
“When it comes to me, fight camp, I always make sure it’s about me. It’s not about my opponent. I don’t think about my opponent. I’m thinking about, ‘OK, me, just sharpen my weapons,’ you know? I want to go fast. I want to hit hard. I want to go fast. Make sure you’re on point, and that’s it for me.
“It’s going to be a fun fight. It’s going to bang.”