His win last Friday, 16 August in Bangkok, Thailand, booked his place in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship final against Samy “AK47” Sana at the historic ONE: CENTURY event.
Now the Italian icon has that match-up in front of him, he has finally allowed himself to start thinking about winning the gold in ONE Championship, as well as the US$1 million prize fund.
There is little doubt the 33-year-old from Milan will be the favorite when he arrives in Tokyo, Japan for his date with destiny.
His first-round stoppage against such a high-caliber opponent earned him arguably the most impressive win in the tournament so far.
“I feel great! I was 100 percent ready for the fight, and I was determined to win. Every time I enter the ring, I always want to win,” Petrosyan says.
“In particular, it felt fantastic to realize where all the preparation and the work with my brother and Ermes Di Francesca [head coach] had led us. Throwing a KO punch against a strong opponent like Jo in his homeland of Thailand is not easy.”
Though “The Doctor” made the win look easy, he admits he did not expect to dispatch his rival so quickly.
He went the distance with the Bangkok Boxing man in their first encounter at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR, and he was fully prepared to battle all the way to the judges’ scorecards in the rematch.
However, Petrosyan put on a masterclass in front of his rival’s home fans. He accelerated through the gears to connect with more and more powerful strikes, and then a single surgical left hand separated “Smokin Jo” from his senses.
Although the five-time kickboxing World Champion made it look easy, he admits he was surprised to score such a decisive blow.
“The KO was not planned. I was able to land a clean punch to his chin and [end the match] before the three rounds were over,” he says.
“I was a little bit less aggressive at the start of the match [than last time], but the KO is something you cannot predict. I was throwing all the shots at max power, and when I hit him clean on the chin with the KO punch, there was nothing he could do.
“Despite strategies and tactics, our plan is always to win. I was able to do so, and I am happy for the result. In any case, I was ready and trained to fight until the end.”
The spectacular straight left that ended “Smokin Jo’s” run towards the World Grand Prix gold punched Petrosyan’s ticket to a match with the in-form Sana, who defeated Dzhabar “Genghis Khan” Askerov with a dominant unanimous decision earlier that evening.
“AK47” has looked unstoppable in his tournament matches against Askerov and “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, but if there is anybody in the sport capable of finding a way to defeat the Frenchman, it is “The Doctor.”
The Milan resident would not allow himself to be distracted by potential opponents before he had got past Nattawut, but now he says he is ready to do his research on the rangy Frenchman.
“I respect Samy, but I never judge an opponent from just one fight,” he explains.
“I will watch and carefully study many of his fights – trying to prepare at my best for the final. I will try to stay focused only on the final, keeping my eyes on the victory.
“I will be back home in one week, I will get back to the gym, and step by step, we will see.”