One Championship

Angela Lee survives brutal blows to out-point Mei Yamaguchi in One Championship ‘Unstoppable’ bout

Singaporean star takes her record to 9-0 after a thrilling rematch with the Japanese veteran in front of her home crowd

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 1:14am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 8:56pm

Angela “Unstoppable” Lee survived two brutal lefts – a fist then a foot – that laid her flat late in the bout before retaining her One Championship world atomweight title after a thrilling rematch with Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi at the Singapore Indoor Area that finished in the early hours of Saturday morning.

In the end the decision was unanimous but there were some nervous moment for a Lee camp – and hometown supporters – who had earlier seen the family’s quest for a history double world title victory on the night upended when Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen was awarded a split decision and retained his One featherweight title against Christian “Warrior” Lee.

“It feels good to be back,” said Lee. “It was a huge night for my family. You guys don’t realise how tough it is to be inside this cage. I couldn’t get the finish tonight because Mei is an incredibly tough opponent. I just want to say it was really a tough fight.”

The victory took Lee’s record to 9-0 and it was ground out over five rounds against her tenacious Japanese opponent Yamaguchi (17-11-1), who needed to come up big as the bout moved towards its end. And she did.

A straight left came near the end of the fourth and a left foot connected at the start of the last round to have Lee in serious trouble but the 21-year-old called on all her powers to nullify Yamaguchi’s efforts to lay on further punishment.

Lee just continues to grow in stature and it’s impossible not to warm to the feel-good factor that surrounds her family. She was there watching from the cage as her younger brother had his colours lowered. He returned the favour later.

Lee’s future at this stage continues to promise unlimited possibilities while the 35-year-old Yamaguchi was at her tenacious best, despite looking about as beat as she ever has over a 10-plus year career.

The One: Unstoppable Dreams card at the Singapore Indoor Stadium had been billed as combat sport’s biggest night in Asia and the full house got a little bit of everything across the course of the evening.

In the earlier bout, the younger Lee was content for the most part to stay well clear of the sort of bombs Nguyen (11-2) had launched last year to capture the featherweight crown from Marat Gafurov and then the lightweight title from Eduard Folayang.

Can’t blame him – in full flow, Nguyen’s fists are lethal – but it didn’t do much to satisfy the crowd or the referee, who urged the pair into battle a number of times. The plan was effective enough until the fourth, when a period of sustained punishment from the Aussie pretty much made the result set in stone, given the limited amount of engagement there had been thus far in the contest.

The split decision was a touch generous to Lee (9-2), given the fact a first-round take down and guillotine attempt was about the only time he had the upper hand.

Nguyen had done well enough from limited opportunities to actually get within range, or to grips, with an opponent who was hobbling from a lower leg kick, and fading, when the final bell rang out.

There’ll be plenty more opportunities ahead for the 19-year-old Lee, for sure, as he continues to build in strength and confidence. But it’ll take some doing to wrestle this belt from the hands of the 29-year-old Nguyen.

Frustration looked his only real worry, on reflection, and he calmed a disgruntled crowd by promising a whole lot more action next time he comes to town.

“Sorry guys for putting on a s*** performance,” he said. “Next fight I guarantee a finish.”

By the time the preliminaries were over, the stadium had become packed to the rafters.

The people had been ignited by a Muay Thai bout between Thailand’s Singtongnoi Por Telakun and Italian Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri that showcased the ancient martial art in all its power and its passion. It ended with a TKO in the third, the decision falling in favour of the more refined Singtongnoi, who moved his record to 221-80, while Lasiri (31-7) left the cage bloodied but, judging by the smile on his face, feeling far from actually feeling beaten.

The fight was part of One’s fledgling Super Series of stand-up bouts and, going on the heat raised in the room by the three of these featured on the 11-fight card, the Singapore-based organisation is on to a good thing.

A certainty, in fact, if they keep producing the likes of Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghado, too wily for Dutch-Surinamese challenger Sergio “The Samurai” Wielzen on the next-to last-bout of an enthralling night.

Sam-A put on a master class in knocking a brave but overmatched foe out in the fourth to claim the inaugural One Super Series Muay Thai flyweight world title and stretch his own incredible record to 366-46-9.