September 28, 2013
On Saturday evening, the promotion company behind the Glory World Series of Kickboxing touched down on the West Coast for their latest show, Glory 10 Los Angeles. All told they enlisted 34 fighters representing 11 countries to compete in 18 bouts at the mint condition Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA.
One fighter was bold enough to predict he would be in Saturday’s finals.
The Glory 10 publicist, John O’Regan from Manchester, England fills us in, “Fighters get knocked from pillar to post. More than 5o percent of the fights end early, either from a knockout or a TKO. In the Glory Fight Series there is no such thing as a draw. If per chance the judges do score a fight a draw, additional rounds are added until someone comes out victorious.”
The only rule variations implemented by this organization regard “no elbows” and “no clinching past three-seconds.” These alterations make the action fast paced, ridiculously fast.
Without further ado, here’s a rundown of what happened at this exciting event:
The big news involves local favorite Joe Schilling (16-4-0, 11 KOs), who with the eye of the tiger upset the highly regarded and #1 ranked Artem Levin (46-4-1, 34 KOs) from Russia in the finals of this one-night, four-man tournament to secure the giant purse of $150,000.
For some, this fight reminded them of the movie Rocky IV. In that movie, Rocky Balboa played by Sylvester Stallone miraculously defeated the fictional character Ivan Drago played by Dolph Lundgren in Russia. In the heat of the battle, the partisan Ruskie crowd began to chant “USSR, USSR”; at Saturday night’s contest, the partisan City of Angels crowd began chanting “USA, USA”.
With his 46 wins, Levin is the most respected, highly awarded athlete in Russian Muay Thai and as such he has been graded a “Merited Master of Sport” by the Russian Sports Ministry. When news of his loss reaches Vladimir Putkin, Russia’s President, heads will roll.
At times, this action-packed bout saw both men having their moments of dominance. With his height advantage and superior technique, Levin definitely took round #1.
Schilling went full bore to even things in Round #2. Besides the use of his stiff jab to set up the big overhand rights, he made certain to not only match Levin’s kicking output but surpass it. Late in that round, perhaps going for broke, Schilling staggered Levin with this all or nothing Superman punch and followed it up with a knee to knock the Russian off his feet. As in boxing, the knockdown was enough to give Schilling the much needed 10-8 round on all three scorecards.
Levin, back to being deadly serious, outscored Schilling in Round #3. With his scores of 10-9 in both Round #1 and Round #3 and Schilling taking Round #2 with that 10-8 score, we had ourselves a draw sending the contest into overtime.
In the fourth round it appeared the tall in the saddle Levin was again in control and back to landing the more varied and cleaner punches and kicks. Midway through the round, Schilling landed another overhand right that in real time appeared to knock Levin off his feet. Levin immediately jumped back to his feet to deny the knockdown had occurred.
A replay later revealed Levin’s leg did indeed get tangled up with Schilling’s leg after the punch, which if noticed by the referee could have changed his ruling from a knockdown to a slip.
For the remaining 30 seconds of the round, Schilling scooted around the perimeter of the ring to avoid Levin’s desperate attempts to knock Schilling off his feet. At the conclusion of that round, Schilling was announced the winner by an unanimous score of 10-9 to win the victory round.
Schilling, who has trained with MMA fighters like Nick Diaz and Dan Henderson, got very emotional after his win, especially when talking about his plan to use the prize money for a down payment on a house for his family.
In his opening bout, Schilling, ranked #5 won an unanimous decision victory over the amazingly durable Kengo Shimizu (16-3-0, 13 KOs) of Japan who was ranked #6. Despite getting hit repeatedly by that same, powerful, overhand right, the stouthearted Shimizu showed his resiliency and big heart as he kept pressing forward.
Shimizu, who replaced the Brit, Stephen “The Surgeon” Wakeling (37-4-1, 17 KOs) after Wakeling failed to secure the necessary visa, trains in Kyokoshin Karate, a notoriously hard discipline with a strong emphasis on toughness and physical conditioning. Stylists train bare-knuckle and as they progress in the ranks, they are required to undergo increasingly severe tests of strength and spirit which Shimizu certainly has.
Schilling’s opponent, Artem Levin, made it to the finals by thrashing Jason “Tyson” Wilnis (19-3-1, 4 KOs) who was ranked #4. The Dutch fighter, who with his brother trains at The Coliseum gym in Utrecht, Netherlands, had to be a huge underdog in their contest. He had no answer for Levin’s relentless eight limb attack, and as a result Levin won an easy unanimous decision victory, one in which Levin often showboated by dropping his hands and placing them behind his back. He also performed the Ali Shuffle. President Putkin would have gotten a kick out of these antics.
The earlier Undercard featured local fighters:
The opening bout, Bout #1, between Charles Bisset (red trunks) and Matt Baker (black trunks) of Team Black, Pleasant Hill, CA was scary good, as the two 190 pounders kept hitting each other with the kind of kicks and punches that leave holes in the wall. After being dominated in round one, Bisset improved as the fight progressed. When it was announced that the judges had ruled in Bisset’s favor, there were a smidgen of boos coming from an audience that thought felt Baker had done dominated his opponent.
In Bout #2, it was Daniel Valdez getting the nod over Brian Del Rosario. This too ended with an unpopular decision drawing the ire of the crowd. From the outset, the taller Del Rosario of Team Trana appeared to have landed the more effective kicks and blows to the head.
From the outset, Bout #3 between Ron Cruz of Sylmar, California and Francisco Garcia of San Diego, CA took on the appearance of a grudge match, especially after Garcia refused to touch gloves at the beginning of this five round IAMTF championship fight. Throughout the match, the dirty tricks kept popping up with a headlock here, a rabbit punch there, a late hit here, an unnecessary shove there. In the end, Cruz had collected enough points to gain an unanimous decision and take home the championship belt.
In Bout #4 it was Jermaine Soto of Muay Thai Academy of America in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA going up against Melisk Baghdasaryan from the highly regarded Glendale Fighting Club in the neighborhood of Little Armenia in Glendale, CA.
Baghdasaryan was in command from the opening bell, from the first knockdown. Like that little energizer bunny, this dynamo never let up. Furthermore, it was rare when he didn’t connect.
The next scheduled bout, between the 209 pound Casey Greene from Woodlyn Hills, Los Angeles, CA and Afam “The Nigerian Nightmare” Egbochuku from the Undisputed Training & Fitness Center in North Park, San Diego, CA was cancelled.
At this point, the show’s announcer Tim Hughes asked attendees (by this time there were between 2,600 and 3,000 in attendance at the Arena which holds 11,089), “Are you ready for Glory?”
In the first bout of their Glory Super Fight Series, Bout #5 of the show, they had Johann Fauveau (28-3-1) of France taking on “Rising Sun” Hinata (26-14-1) of Japan in the 154 pound weight division.
Hinata, a 27 year-old, 9 year practitioner of Muay Thai, was like a machine. He kept peppering Fauveau with punches and cracking him with high and low kicks at a 26-14 ratio. What made this bout so exciting was the ferocity of each kick and punch. There was also an early knockdown by Fauveau which Hinata felt obliged to duplicate. At the close of Round #1, you had to figure the relentless Hinata had worn himself out.
Oh, contraire! Hinata was even busier and more productive in Round #2. The end came via TKO at 0:48 of the third round after Fauveau’s corner had thrown in the towel.
In Bout #6, it was Albert “The Hurricane” Kraus (76-16-3) taking on Ky “Cagey” Hollenbeck. The taller, stronger and rehydrated Hollenbeck went from the catch weight of 157 lbs. at his weigh-in on Friday all the way up to 174 lbs. before meeting Kraus in the ring. As a result, he dominated the shorter Kraus and won every round on all three scorecards (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27). It was a case of the smaller Kraus being unable to land anything on Hollenbeck and paying for it with a steady diet of knees and punches.
In Bout #7, in the 20o pound plus weight division, it was Brian “The Lion” Collette (19-2, 17 KOs), a Golden Gloves boxer from Norfolk, Virginia taking on Randy “Boom-Boom” Blake (31-2) a USA Karate Champion from Tulsa, Oklahoma. By the end of the fight, both fighters were dog tired. Collette, who landed the cleaner and harder blows, the more dramatic uppercuts, won this competitive match via an unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 and 29-28).
In Bout #8, another bout in the 154 pound weight class, it was Andy “The Machine” Ristie (38-3 -1, 19 KOs) from Surinam being challenged by Niclas Larsen (39-6-1, 19 KOs) of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Constantly on the attack, the crafty Riste beat Larsen down with constant flurries, two low blows and even a punch after the bell sounded to gain his unanimous decision. When the resilient Larsen threw a kick or a punch, the indestructible Ristie had better head movement and appeared willing to walk right through Larsen’s punches with little regard. In comparison, his power punches were far more accurate.
Bout #9 featured heavyweights, Brice Guidon (28-9) of France and Jahfarr Wilnis (17-3-1) of the Netherlands. From the outset, it appeared this was Guidon’s match since he was taller, looked stronger and was definitely the busier of the two.
Meanwhile, Wilnis kept plodding along, being more patient and just calculating the proper time to unload that one big punch that would lead to a knockout. Then, just seconds into the second round, Guidon led with a softer right hand and Wilnis saw his opportunity. Bang went this big overhand right to send Guidon to the canvas.
In Bout #10 it was welterweight Karapet Karapetyan (41-8-2), considered one of the fittest and most technically sound fighters in the game going up against Aleksandr “the Great” Stetcurenko (48-7-0) another championship-level fighter. The two gents fought in Stetcurenko’s native Russia last year with the decision going against Karapetyan, one he bitterly disagreed with.
From the outset of Saturday night’s contest, Stetcurenko seemed overwhelmed by the pace, perhaps winning the first round but then suffering badly in the second and third rounds as he slowed down and Karapetyan kept going.
The style Karapetyan employed is textbook Dutch-style kickboxing. He throws multiple hand combinations to the head and body then finishes with a strong leg kick. He does it with power and he does it repeatedly to wear his opponents down.
“I’m really happy I got the win,” said Karapetyan. “I feel like I got justice for the result in our first fight. Now I’m focused on getting the number one ranking, and winning the tournament when it comes around.”
Bout #11 was that Artem Levin destruction of Jason Wilnis.
Bout #12 was the Joe Schilling destruction of Kengo Simizu.
Bout #13 had Wayne Barrett (2-0-0, 2 KOs) of New York by way of Georgia facing Robby Plotkin (1-0-0, 1 KO) from Long Island, New York.
Not meant to be an excuse, but Plotkin did take this fight on short notice. He’s a member of Team Serra-Longo and trains with UFC Middleweight champ Chris Weidman.
Play by play of the contest: Plotkin went high with a kick. After throwing a straight right hand, his opponent landed a shot behind the ear which knocked Plotkin down. Barrett then attacked with a front kick to send Plotkin reeling. Barrett kept backing Plotkin up and landed another overhand right that knocked Plotkin down warranting a stoppage by referee Dan Stell, at 2:26 of the first round under their two knockdown rule.
Bout #14 featured 5’6” Georgian Davit Kiria (20-8-0, 6 KOs), who currently trains in Holland under the tutelage of 5x World heavyweight Champion Semmy Schilt and Schilt’s own coach Dave Jonkers. Kiria took on the 6’1” Murthel “Murry” Groenhart (54-15-3, 30 KOs) from Big Mike’s Gym in Amsterdam, Holland in a lightweight contest.
Play by play: Kiria dominated round one with several high kicks, three big overhand rights and backed his opponent up in the corner with a flurry of punches.
In round two, Kiria continued his strategy of backing his opponent up and going for these amazing, jumping spinning back kicks.
In round three, after Groenhart unloaded his full arsenal, back came Kiria to back him up and land those mouth watering combinations. To put his imprimatur on the win, Kira landed a solid left hook to end the bout.
The only surprise in this contest was one judge’s score of 29-28 while the other judges had Kiria winning every round.
Bout #15 was yet another classic battle between two top ranked lightweights, Robin “Poker Face” van Roosmalen (29-5-0, 19 KOs) ranked #2 from Den Bosch, Netherlands and Shemsi Beqiri (72-8-0, 31 KOs) ranked #5 from Switzerland by way of Kosovo. You had the spirited and courageous Beqiri facing the more powerful Van Roosmalen.
Interesting to note: William van Roosmalen, Robin’s father and trainer, at one time an outstanding kickboxer, is the only fighter to ever knock out Vitali Klitschko.
Round one: After both trade stiff low kicks, van Roosmalen landed a kick to the body. Beqiri answered with a spinning back kick which angered van Roosemalen who unloaded with big punches. After Van Roosemalen landed a right cross, Beqiri responded with a hard kick to the ribs. After landing an uppercut, Van Roosemalen followed with a left hook. After landing a combination, Beqiri tried a jumping roundhouse that didn’t land. Van Roosemalen went with a charging knee to the ribs and Beqiri answered with a spinning back kick to the body. They should have been exhausted, right?
Round two: After the fighters exchanged low kicks, Beqiri went with a hook to Van Roosemalen’s ribs. Van Roosemalen then landed a kick to the body. Beqiri followed with a nice combo. Van Roosemalen then landed a straight right to his opponent’s face. Beqiri answered by doubling up with left hooks. Van Roosemalen answered with a big overhand right then dug in with a left hook in the direction of Beqiri’s liver. Even though Beqiri finished with a combo, the round clearly went to the heavier puncher – Van Roosemalen.
Round three: Van Roosemalen, still fresh as a daisy, went right back in Beqiri’s grill to throw the more powerful blows and back Beqiri up against the ropes to unload his combinations. Both men traded punches right up till the final bell. This outstanding, all action bout will be long remembered.
Due to his power and precision, the seemingly invincible Van Roosmalen secured the victory by an unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Bout #16 was the Middleweight World Championship bout between Levin and Schilling.
The show closed with Bout #17 between two super heavyweights, 28 year-old Hyun man Myung of the Taewoong Gym in Seoul, South Korea getting the worst of it from 23 year-old, 6’8” Xavier “Sagat” Vigney (5-1) representing Team Black of Pleasant Hill, CA. After an early knockdown, it sure looked like Mr. Myung was finished for the night.
With the lineup of talented people involved in this kickboxing marathon, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who wasn’t delighted with this show of shows.