After reports by YOKKAO that Panicos Yusuf had retired from Muay Thai, the 31-year-old refuted the claims and gave his account of the confusing situation.
The news surfaced on Monday night with claims being made by YOKKAO – with quote’s from Panicos’s manager Jamie Alaise – that he would no longer be fighting Superlek Kiatmoo9 at YOKKAO 23 due to his ‘retirement’.
However, after massive traction online, Yusuf rebuked YOKKAO’s statement, claiming he still intends to pursue careers in Muay Thai and now, MMA.
“Damn right Panicos Yusuf hasn’t retired,” he started. “There ain’t no one to replace me yet.”
At YOKKAO 20, Panicos fought a former teammate of Superlek, dropping a decision to highly touted 18-year-old Manachai. Despite his loss, the Tanko representative would have been game to face Superlek, if he was given enough time to prepare.
“Superlek is 10 times better than Manachai, he’s probably better than Saenchai at the moment. [The fight against Manachai] was a really hard fight but I wasn’t out of my depth, I’d fight him again. So when they said I was fighting Superlek, obviously my manager accepted the fight but he couldn’t remember the name and stuff and by the time it got round to me finding out [it didn’t give me much time to prepare].
“I said to my manager, I think that for me to fight Superlek, I’d need to be in Thailand now, which was December time, training until February and then come back and then I’ll have half a chance of fighting him.”
The British arm of YOKKAO is represented by veteran matchmaker Brian Calder, whom Panicos claims he shares a respectful relationship with. But after categorically clarifying to Calder that he wasn’t retiring, the Thai promotion still leaked the news, albeit falsly.
“I’m grateful to Brian because he’s made the effort to bring me Thais but the problem is I shouldn’t be sitting in Tanko meetings and teaching classes, I should be training like the Thais do so I can be on par with them. I’m not scared of Superlek, I’m just not stupid, what’s the point?
“Maybe my manager had used the word ‘retire’ but I spoke to Brian about a week before New Years and I’ve clarified, to apologize, and I’ve said I’m not retiring, I’m just keeping my options open for Thai but I want to concentrate more on MMA. Then the f–ker retired me.
“What I’m trying to achieve with Tanko I don’t want to get into the whole political side of things and start building barriers, I want to keep everything as mutual as possible. But I owe it to the people that have showed an interest to let them know that I’m not retired.”
Elsewhere, having forged a very succesful career in Thai Boxing and winning numerous titles, Yusuf has now made the decision to begin the transition into mixed martial arts in search of bigger opportunities.
Fighting on Tanko Fighting Championship 2 on December 3, the training partner of UK standout Brendan Loughnane claimed his first win inside the cage, beating Ben Dearden inside the first round.
He explained: “MMA is what I’m looking to concentrate on now because I feel even if I managed to get up to par with Saenchai, I’m still not going to get more money than what I get now. Whereas with MMA, because of the reputation I have in Thai boxing, I have a bit of a head start and if I beat a few names and get three or four fights, I think I can get a contract with a promotion.”
As for the future, Yusuf was set to compete at Tanko FC 3 on February 11, but noted that he is suffering from some ‘minor injuries’. The All Powers did clarify though, that if he can get fit in time, he hopes to return to action at the Victoria Warehouse.