The world’s top strikers are in action at Madison Square Garden, New York on Saturday night.
GLORY 12 NEW YORK features a four-man, $150,000 lightweight tournament plus some one-off ‘superfight’ matches. It airs live on SPIKE TV in the US and, as was announced earlier today, on BT Sport in the UK.
Giorgio Petrosyan has been the face of the event, adorning giant posters and video screens in New York’s Time Square. And for good reason - the Italian-Armenian is widely felt to the most technically perfect fighter in the history of kickboxing.
His defense has been described as “perfect” and he is often compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr. because of his defensive tightness and superb evasive skills. Interestingly, Mayweather Jr is a fan - he tweeted yesterday that he will be attending GLORY 12 in person.
One loss in eighty fights, almost all against top opposition, is an incredible record which would make Petrosyan a household name had he achieved that in boxing or even MMA. With kickboxing being a fledgling sport in the US, he stands on the edge of writing a new chapter in his legend. America is a blank canvas.
But all reigns must come to an end and Robin Van Roosmalen intends to be Petrosyan’s nemesis. The stocky young Dutch fighter has a dynamite left hook and a killer right hand. If Petrosyan is Mayweather Jr, Van Roosmalen is Mike Tyson.
The two fought in the grand final of the 2012 Lightweight Tournament and Van Roosmalen lost a decision.
“I showed him too much respect in that fight, that’s why I lost the first round and the decision. If I fight him again, I am going straight at him. I know how to beat him now,” says Van Roosmalen, who ironically has replaced Petrosyan as #1 in the official rankings thanks to being more active over 2013.
For Petrosyan and Van Roosmalen to meet, the two will have to get past their semi-final opponents and that won’t be easy. Petrosyan faces Andy ‘The Machine’ Ristie while Van Roosmalen faces Davit Kiria, an intense and driven karate stylist from the former Soviet Union.
On paper Ristie is an ideal opponent for Petrosyan, being a wild power-hitter, but in practice Ristie has such an unorthodox style that Petrosyan’s usually radar-accurate anticipation will be badly affected. Ristie can end a fight with one blow - look at how he flatlined Albert Kraus at GLORY 8 in May - so Petrosyan will really have to be on his game.
Van Roosmalen and Kiria fought in 2011 and Van Roosmalen won a decision. Kiria was still relatively new to kickboxing then, not long having transitioned from the world of karate tournaments, and this 2013 version is a very different animal.
Kiria’s key qualities are Terminator-style relentlessness, incredible toughness - the conditioning he goes through has to be seen to be believed - and an arsenal of unusual karate kicks including the ‘Forward Rolling Kick’. He is very tricky and very hard. This fight will be an absolute war.
Speaking of wars, the heavyweight co-main event should also provide some serious action for as long as it lasts. ‘The Goliath’ Jamal Ben Saddik and ‘Banging’ Ben Edwards are two of the biggest fighters on the roster; they pack some heavy artillery.
There is a scene in the Arnold Schwarznegger movie ‘Conan the Barbarian’ where the eponymous hero knocks a camel out with one punch. That blow was about half as hard as these two guys hit. Edwards is making his GLORY debut while Ben Saddik has had at least two Fight of the Year contenders in his GLORY run.
Finally, the main event. Joe ‘Stitch ‘Em Up’ Schilling of Los Angeles faces Wayne Barrett of New York in an unofficial ‘West Coast vs. East Coast’ derby. Schilling won the Middleweight Championship Tournament in LA back in September, while Barrett won his tournament alternate match on that same card.
Now they are on collision course. Schilling is West Coast heat - confidence, trash talk, swagger. Barrett is East Coast old school - quiet, thoughtful, gentlemanly. There has been some back and forth between them in recent weeks and the fight is fast taking on the appearances of a grudge match.
Barrett only has a 3-0 record as a professional, which is far below Schilling’s level of experience, but he has a solid amateur background and is a former Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion to boot. He is a good technician and moves beautifully.
Schilling demonstrated his power when he dropped Artem Levin at GLORY 10, the first fighter since 2006 to do so. He is intelligent as well; he figured out the tricky Russian’s movement and distance game, which few have managed. His Muay Thai background versus Barrett’s boxing-based style makes for an interesting clash.
GLORY has come a long way in a short space of time, which TV deals such as SPIKE (US) and BT SPORT (UK) are testament to. For many viewers this will be their first exposure to elite-level international kickboxing - it’s going to be an experience. If you like stand-up wars you are going to love GLORY.
GLORY 12 NEW YORK takes place at Madison Square Garden, New York on Saturday night and airs live in the US at 9pm ET/6pm PT on SPIKE TV and live in the UK at 2am (so technically Sunday morning) on BT SPORT.
Picture by James Law