Mehdi Zatout ends his retirement to pursue long-time dream at ONE 166: Qatar

Mehdi Zatout ends his retirement to pursue long-time dream at ONE 166: Qatar By Fathimath Nasli - February 27, 2024
Mehdi Zatout ends his retirement to pursue long time dream at ONE 166 Qatar

Mehdi Zatout

Mehdi Zatout to embark on a new phase in his journey through combat sports. Despite having already established a legacy in both Muay Thai and kickboxing, he nurtured a longstanding dream to test his abilities in boxing. This aspiration is set to materialize at ONE 166: Qatar on Friday, March 1, where the French-Algerian striker will face off against WBC Middle East Champion Zuhayr Al-Qahtani in a three-round boxing match at 147 pounds.

His love for boxing has been well-known among those close to him. Zatout emphasized his consistent training in boxing, revealing that he had always focused on the boxing aspect even when sparring with top names in Europe, which contributes to his proficiency in the sport.

The unexpected return to competition surprised many, given Zatout's announcement of retirement following a first-round TKO victory over Asa Ten Pow in their Muay Thai bout in October 2022. Despite taking a brief hiatus and finding solace in training fighters at his advanced gym in Thailand, Zatout couldn't resist the allure of the challenge and the competition.

“I decided to come back because I like the challenge. I retired almost two years ago because I had problems with my knees, and there was so much work. I just had enough,” he revealed.

“I felt genuinely sad when I decided to retire because fulfilling my dream of competing in boxing was something I deeply desired at least once in my career.”

Despite committing to permanently stepping away from the spotlight, Zatout faced an offer he couldn't turn down.

“I’m delighted that Chatri [Sityodtong] and ONE offered me the fight. Despite retiring, I've maintained my fitness and continued sparring with all my team's fighters,” he expressed.

Zatout’s return coincides with ONE Championship's inaugural show in Qatar, adding an extra layer of significance to the event. Fully cognizant of the gravity of the moment, ‘Diamond Heart’ is resolute on leaving a lasting impression, particularly as it marks his debut in ‘the sweet science.’

“To me, it’s amazing. When ONE announced they would be going to Qatar, I immediately informed my fighters about it. I never thought that I would be the one competing,” he shared with a hearty laugh.

“It’s crazy that ONE will be in Qatar. To be part of ONE 166 is a dream for me. Knowing it’s an Arabic country, it’s also special for me.”

As anticipation builds, some pundits consider this encounter a potential mismatch, questioning Zatout's ability to excel in a sport where Al-Qahtani naturally thrives.

The veteran acknowledges the concern but maintains his confidence as he heads into the matchup.

“I’ve worked on my footwork and other aspects required in boxing. I consistently spar and train with high-level fighters in boxing,” he stated.

“But at the end of the day, I just want to enjoy and prove that Muay Thai fighters can also use their fists and box.”

With a point to prove, Zatout steps into the Circle with a mission — to demonstrate that his striking prowess extends beyond Muay Thai and kickboxing.

He aims to dispel preconceived notions and show that he can go toe-to-toe with a seasoned pugilist like Al-Qahtani.

“I want to surprise everybody and make people crazy,” Zatout said. “I want them to see a Muay Thai fighter and kickboxer like me beat a boxer at his own game.”

Source: The Peninsula

By Fathimath Nasli - February 27, 2024

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