Ibrahim “Mr Cool” El Bouni is heading back into ONE Super Series looking for another eye-catching performance.
El Bouni will take on fellow Moroccan-Dutch striker Tarik Khbabez in a light heavyweight kickboxing bout at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS in Yangon, Myanmar.
The 25-year-old’s debut display, where he finished Andre “The Giant” Meunier in just 91 seconds at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS, hinted at better things to come as he made a dream start to life in ONE Championship.
“Meunier is a good fighter. He’s strong. He came with a big punch like I was expecting, but it was not a problem. I moved away and countered with my punches and kicks,” El Bouni recalls.
“The whole show was great, and I met a lot of good people and cool fans. They give me respect, and I give them respect, so I cannot wait to fight my second fight for ONE.”
Against Khbabez, El Bouni faces another heavy-handed striker who is coming off a big win in ONE Super Series. Khbabez finished Alain Ngalani on his debut, setting up a fascinating clash between in Yangon.
“Tarik fights with his heart. I like that, but it’s another level for him when he fights me,” he says.
“I know Tarik. He’s a good guy – not only inside the ring, but outside of it, too.
“I thought we would probably face each other here, but after three or four more wins, and then for the title.
“We both fight for the Moroccan flag, so at first I was thinking of saying no, as I don’t normally like that. But then I heard that he wanted to do it, so I said, ‘Okay, no problem.’ If he wants it, he will get it.”
As well as being a fellow countryman, Khbabez is a known entity to El Bouni, with the pair having competed in the same circles in the Netherlands earlier in their careers.
While he respects his opponent, El Bouni is confident that he will have the upper hand when they meet at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on 26 October.
“I know him well. We competed in many of the same organisations in Holland. He’s very good. He pressures and is aggressive – coming forward with punches,” El Bouni says.
“He wants to keep coming towards you to make you tired, but when he fights me, he will think he has to change his style.
“My distance is longer, and we also have the 4-ounce gloves. It feels very good. Every punch comes at you very hard, so I cannot wait.”
Lined up against an opponent he knows well, El Bouni says fans can expect an exciting match-up when he and Khbabez throw leather in Yangon.
He has some advice for the fans who will pack the stands inside the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium for the event.
“I hear the crowds there are powerful and crazy. I like that,” he says.
“I just need to tell them not to look away, because whether it’s one second or 20 seconds, something will happen!”