By Jun Ray Navarres
Female Atomweight contender Gina “Conviction” Iniong does not want to call it a career but otherwise eager to make a comeback in ONE Atomweight Grand Prix.
Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao confirmed Iniong’s every intent to return to action.
“When she’s all fit to start her training, then she’s back,” affirmed Sangiao.
The former #5 atomweight contender dropped out of the rankings due to inactivity and was replaced by Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex. Iniong last saw action at ONE: FIRE & FURY early this year against Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka where she won via unanimous decision.
Iniong almost got swayed by the thought of retirement after knowing that she and husband Richard Araos were pregnant with their first child.
However, “Conviction” found hew new motivation after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, Gianna Rose just this week. She’s yearning to return inside the circle for some action.
“Actually, she’s very eager to be in the Atomweight Grand Prix, but she needs to be patient and approach it at the right time. I have no doubt she will be better than ever. Gina is very much motivated. She’s focused and determined,” said Sangiao.
“I think fans will be happy when she returns. If she can get a spot in the tournament, we will do our best to prepare her.”
No final list has been released but expected fighters include Stamp Fairtex, Mei Yamaguchi, Meng Bo, and Itsuki Hirata, as well as #1-ranked atomweight Denice Zamboanga of the Philippines. Sangiao believes that Iniong has everything in her arsenal to stand toe-to-toe with the big names of women atomweight.
“We have seen how Gina performs in the ring or in the Circle, and she’s capable of anything. She has great wins facing some outstanding athletes. Of course, there is still a lot of room for improvement. But she’s eager to learn and enhance her skills,” Sangiao confidently exclaimed.
Sangiao also has no problem if Iniong and Zamboanga would meet somewhere down the line.
“She (Denice) has had a few good wins in ONE. She has that potential, but I think she still needs more experience. With a little more experience, she can be very dangerous in this sport,” Sangiao added.
“We don’t say no to any fight offers from ONE. It won’t be the first time a Filipino will face a fellow Filipino. If they give Denice to Gina, then so be it. Gina has the maturity in the battle scene and in Team Lakay, we have that sense of always being positive. So, if the match happens, we have high hopes for Gina.”
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