Despite calls for Angela Lee to relinquish the ONE Atomweight World Championship, Chairman Chatri Sityodtong has decided not to strip her of her belt.
The amiable executive cited that the promotion’s house rules state that a champion will only be forced to relinquish their belt if they cheated, are unwilling to defend, were involved in criminal activity, or entered retirement.
“Any other reason would be unfathomable. It is not right to take away someone’s greatest achievement earned through a lifetime of sacrifice and hard work,” read Sityodtong’s statement.
Lee and husband Bruno Pucci announced last October 2 that they are expecting a child, sidelining the champion for a good one year. The 24-year-old Singaporean last competed back on October 12, 2019.
This development sent the stacked atomweight division into limbo. Number one contender Denice Zamboanga later made a plea for Lee to not hold up the division.
“I never asked for the belt to be given to me. Vacating the belt is for the sake of all the atomweight athletes who have been also working hard for it,” said Zamboanga, who entered the ONE World Atomweight Grand Prix slated for early 2021.
Sityodong begged to differ, though, saying that pregnancy should not be a reason to vacate a belt.
“Pregnancy is not a reason to attack a woman. We should all celebrate Angela’s pregnancy. It is an extraordinary time of love and happiness in her life.”
For this reason, Sityodtong put the Grand Prix in place.
For him, this is Zamboanga’s chance to reach further heights as she preps for a much-anticipated showdown with Lee.
“I have no doubt that Denice Zamboanga will face Angela Lee in the future. I am a big Denice fan. She is a young rising star with so much potential. I love her aggressive style and her big heart. In fact, she would be one of my favorites to win the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship,” he said.
“If anything, winning the ultra-prestigious ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship would establish Denice as one of the best pound-for-pound female athletes in the world and erase her current status as a young rising star. “