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Needing to bounce back, Rene Catalan accepts One return on short notice

Rene Catalan quickly grasped on an opportunity for redemption. One Championship (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--One: Big Bang suffered a huge hit even before it takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium as one of the assigned cornermen for Danny Kingad was tested positive for COVID-19, prompting One Championship to put on hold Kingad's blockbuster battle against Kairat Akhmetov.

It just so happened that another ranked fighter, Rene Catalan, is in town.

One reached out to Catalan, supposedly just doing the coaching role to Jomary Torres, to fight on short notice.

With a chance to quickly back on the winning track, Catalan, currently third among One strawweights, accepted the late call-up.

[Related Story: Kingad-Akhmetov battle called off; Rene Catalan joins One: Big Bang]

"I need to bounce back and stand again so we can continue in our One Championship fight," Catalan said in an online press conference on Tuesday.

Catalan, who once had six straight wins, fell prey to Joshua Pacio on Nov. 9, 2019 in their all-Filipino One strawweight title fight at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

[Related Story: Pacio beats Rene Catalan to keep One strawweight belt in all-Filipino title fight]

The defeat, however, somehow hardly mattered as One ranked Catalan third among those who are looking to dethrone Pacio.

But for Catalan to possibly get another shot at One Championship gold, he needs to first get past South African opponent Bokang Masunyane on Friday night.

And the Southeast Asian Games sambo silver medalist is aware that his foe would prefer bringing the game to the ground.

"His wrestling skill is really high," Catalan said of Masunyane.

However, despite the short notice, Catalan insisted that he is in fight shape and ready to face Masunyane.

"One Championship gave me six weeks to prepare," Catalan claimed.

However, with the pandemic, which initially shut down sporting events all over the world for a few months, still lingering, he said that his team has been relegated to doing in-gym training.

"Even amid COVID-19 when we're on lockdown, we just keep doing basic training because we cannot train outside," he shared.

In spite of the limitations, Catalan said that he still got to watch the replay of Masunyane's fight against Ryuto Sawada also last year to observe his tendencies and applied them to his training.

"We practiced how to defend his wrestling skills," Catalan added.

He then vowed, "I will fight strong and hungry," hoping that a win against the undefeated Masunyane would propel him to the number one rank.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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