Rene “The Challenger” Catalan is on the comeback trail.
Catalan, the no. 3-ranked strawweight contender, will take on undefeated stinger Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane at ONE: Big Bang on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
The 41-year-old is eyeing a return to title contention. He wants to make a case for a rematch with Filipino compatriot Joshua Pacio, reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion, with a victory in his next contest.
“I feel excited to be back in competition. This is what I love to do. It’s where I belong,” said Catalan.
“My goal is to come up and take the top ranking in the division, so expect me to fight strong. I am hungry and I will fight like it, so I can reach my goal of being number one again and challenging the champion once more.”
Against Masunyane, Catalan faces a top-ranked South African flyweight from Johannesburg who began wrestling at the age of seven.
Masunyane is a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and a regional wrestling champion. “Little Giant” is known for his explosive style, featuring dynamic takedowns, smothering top control, and powerful right hand.
As such, Catalan has prepared himself with the right skills to combat Masunyane’s many strengths.
“Bokang Masunyane is a hungry young lion. From what I’ve seen of him, he’s really strong and has good wrestling skills. As soon as we scouted him, we started working on how to defend his wrestling. It’s going to be an explosive fight. I know Bokang is really hungry to win this fight, but I am hungry to bounce back as well so I can get another World Title shot,” said Catalan.
“I’ve worked a lot on my wrestling over the past few years, and I’m at a point now where I am comfortable. But my strength will always be in my striking. I am a wushu sanda striker, and I will strike with him.”
Up against an undefeated rising star, Catalan knows that momentum is on the side of the South African. “The Challenger”, however, feels his time in the Circle against the division’s elite will spell the difference between victory and defeat.
“This is not going to be an easy fight. But I think I have the edge in experience,” said Catalan.
“I have seen some things in the Circle that he hasn’t experienced before. I’m going to use that to my advantage.”