MANILA, Philippines – Despite the 72-hour notice that was given to him by ONE Championship, Paul Cheng is confident that he is all geared up with the task of facing Brandon Vera for the organization’s inaugural heavyweight title in the main event of the “Spirit of Champions” card on Friday, December 11.
Cheng received the opportunity to vie for the available ONE heavyweight belt against Vera when Chi Lewis Parry pulled out of the scheduled 5-round championship clash.
According to ONE’s official press release, Parry failed to submit his medical results and drug tests that caused his removal from the bout.
The statement added that Parry decided not to board the plane departing from London to Manila, which was scheduled for Tuesday, December 8.
Cheng stressed that his training was religiously continuous in spite of being on the sidelines for a year.
The 37-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian was last seen in action when he scored a second-round stoppage victory over Mahmoud Hassan in July 2014.
“I am in best shape of my life,” Cheng told Rappler. “I did have a lot of time off, but I did go through a camp. I am excited. Things are working out.”
Cheng sees the title shot as a once-in-a-lifetime chance regardless of the controversy that it triggered.
“I have no expectations to compete unless something happens or someone gets injured. Things happen. I don’t understand this whole big controversy,” he stated.
Over the weekend, Parry criticized ONE on social media as he claimed that the promotion already had plans of bringing in Cheng to serve as a last-minute replacement.
JUST GOT SENT THIS!!! (Tweet has been removed) What bs you playin @ONEFCMMA either you are replacing @Verafied or me pic.twitter.com/eWefu96Ot8— Chi Lewis-Parry (@RealChopperChi) December 5, 2015
Cheng clarified that he was invited by ONE to watch the heavily-hyped encounter between Vera and Parry live as he was considered next in line for the gold-plated strap.
“I think people had all of this misconstrued. I was excited to come to Manila because I was supposed to be next in line. I was just excited to be able to watch a world championship fight cageside,” he said.
The 6-foot-3 stalwart known as “Typhoon” stressed that he has no personal issues with Parry as he considers the British behemoth as a friend.
“ONE picked him. His pictures are all over the magazines and all that stuff. It wasn’t my fight. I am not that type of guy,” he shared. “Now, it’s my fight. Chi and I are cool. I just don’t understand it.”
Meanwhile, Cheng speaks highly of Vera as he admitted that he was once an avid fan of the Filipino-American fighter.
“This is a great opportunity. I get to face one of the best in the world. I used to be a fan just like everybody else. I used to watch Brandon knocking everybody out. Now, I get to fight the guy on Friday night,” he quipped.
However, he made it clear that the fan status flies out of the window when he gets inside the cage because he intends to make it short and swift to put the belt around his waist.
“I respect you, but I don’t fear you. I am coming as hard as I can. I will come with everything I have. I already proved that I am not a boring fighter. It’s going to be exciting. I don’t plan it to go the distance,” Cheng articulated.
Many observers downplayed the title shot that was merited to Cheng, but he believes that it is his destiny to be part of the first heavyweight championship match in ONE history.
“I believe this is my destiny. I believe on why I am here and this spot fell on my lap. I know it’s a short notice, but I have a lot of time to prepare,” he ended. – Rappler.com
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