Non-stop action and a ’Knockout of the Year’/‘Upset of the Year’ entry all in one - the GLORY 47 LYON Featherweight Contender Tournament had it all.
Anvar Boynazarov earned his place in the tournament final by taking out Fabio Pinca in the second round of their semi-final fight in a stoppage which will probably also find itself nominated for ‘Comeback of the Year’ when 2017 closes out.
Pinca is widely regarded as one of the best Muay Thai stylists ever to come out of France and Boynazarov, also a Muay Thai stylist, spent the first round learning just why Pinca is so highly regarded.
Until the knockout came, Pinca was putting on a masterclass in multiple topics. Timing, anticipation, reflexes, misdirection - he was levels ahead of Boynazarov and frequently left the Uzbek swinging at thin air where Pinca used to be.
Perhaps Pinca got too comfortable. Just under two minutes into the second round he got caught up in an exchange with Boynazarov and suddenly took a right hand/left hood combination which leveled him in spectacular fashion.
It was immediately apparent that Pinca would not be getting up. Having never been knocked out ever in his career before, and being in such control of the fight until that point, Pinca lay prone on the canvas for several minutes.
Pinca had drawn a large crowd of supporters to the Palais du Sport in Lyon and the arena went eerily silent as the audience absorbed the shocking scene in front of it, an upset broadly on par with Andy Ristie’s knockout of Giorgio Petrosyan at GLORY 12 NEW YORK.
Securing a win inside the distance meant Boynazarov was, theoretically, in a better position going into the final than Abdellah Ezbiri, who had a three-round war with Azize Hlali in their own semi-final match before winning a unanimous decision.
Ezbiri has an incredible gas tank though, so he was able to have another three-round war with Boynazarov when they met in the final. Boynazarov was keen to score another knockout win but instead had to endure a three-round firefight which went at a frenetic pace.
Boynazarov had a good first round but Ezbiri was gradually able to impose himself and then take over the fight and dominate the scoring. By the third round he was clearly in control, although the sound of the ten-second clapper did prompt both of them to stand toe-to-toe and swing wildly at each other, an exhilarating finish to the fight.
Abdellah Ezbiri def. Anvar Boynazarov by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Abdellah Ezbiri def. Azize Hlali by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Anvar Boynazarov def. Fabio Pinca by knockout (left hook). Round 2, 1:50