“Elvis Gashi will be leaving the building early,” quipped Josh Jauncey ahead of their GLORY 43 NEW YORK showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
And so he did, only it was he who left as the winner and Jauncey who had his night cut short.
Gashi, making his GLORY debut and coming in on short notice, received a reception that raised the Madison Square Garden roof. Jauncey was also greeted with a wall of noise, albeit boos instead of cheers. The New York crowd is one that looks after its own and the Bronx’s Gashi was given a hero’s welcome.
But appearances can be deceptive.
Although Gashi lives in The Bronx and fights under the US flag, he was born in Kosovo and also lived in Belgium for many years. Thus he is basically a European kickboxer in the guise of an American, and that’s an important consideration due to the different depths of kickboxing talent and experience in the two regions.
Jauncey’s preparations had taken him t New York via a stint at the Mayweather boxing camp in Las Vegas and when he entered the ring he looked every inch the star, playing heel to the crowd and surging with confidence. Gashi, hopping from foot to foot in his own corner, looked a little nervous in comparison.
Once the fight was underway, any nerves on Gashi’s part quickly evaporated. Moving backwards under Jauncey’s forward pressure, he was able to find counter-shots and openings, gradually slowing the Canadian down and forcing him onto the back foot.
In the second round, suddenly Gashi was all over Jauncey. A hard shot opened Jauncey’s defences and Gashi hammered him with a series of punches which resulted in Jauncey listing crazily and then hitting the canvas.
He beat the count and came back into the fight but it would have taken a miracle to reverse his fortunes at that point, and favour was smiling on Gashi, who quickly resumed dropping Bronx bombs on his beleaguered opponent.
Another knockdown followed, to the delight of the New York audience. Jauncey regained his feet and insisted he wanted to return to the fight. This time the finish seemed inevitable. Jauncey threw a punch and Gashi evaded it and landed one of his own, followed by several more.
Jauncey staggered sideways across the ring and went down, just ten seconds from the end of the round. Three knockdowns in one round ends a fight under GLORY rules; Gashi scores a TKO win over a big-name opponent in his debut for the organization and now hopes to go on a run in the division.