During interviews which preceded GLORY 45 AMSTERDAM, light-heavyweight hopeful Michael Duut detailed the extremity of the preparations made under his coach Melvin Manhoef in training camp.
With Manhoef’s gym being a two-hour drive from Duut’s home, ‘The Dreamcrusher’ frequently sequestered himself at the training facility, spending days and nights away from his wife and two young children, immersed in an endless hell of murderous workouts and too-brief rest periods.
Tournament fighting requires successful competitors to get themselves into fight mode, win their fight, then go backstage and cool down before getting themselves back into fight mode for their next bout of the evening.
It can be as mentally taxing as it is physically taxing; a huge amount of psychology is involved in rousing oneself even for a single bout at the professional level. Replicating that procedure twice in one night, sometimes with heavy physical damage a factor in the second instance, is something which separates the elite from the rest of the field.
To prepare for this, Manhoef had Duut sparring hard round after hard round, weathering heavy damage to his legs and body, exerting himself to the maximum, before making him sit down in a corner of the gym and cool down completely.
If he felt Duut wasn’t sufficiently cooled off, he would place bags of ice on him. Once he felt Duut had wound down to a sufficiently sedentary level, he would order him back to his feet and make him begin warming up, mentally and physically, for more hard rounds, this time with fresh opponents.
Some days, Duut would be given a break from this and instead taken to the local running track to sprint distances at carefully timed intervals until he was ready to puke his guts up. These days were considered a treat.
“This training… it was not normal,” said a wide-eyed Duut in pre-fight interviews, shaking his head at the memory of the sadistic exertions which had been inflicted on him. The result, he said, was that “I want this, really bad. Really bad. More than anything I ever wanted in my life.”
Thankfully for Duut, his efforts did not go to waste.
Well, not completely.
First he faced the debuting Dragos Zubco, from Italy but fighting jointly out of his home gym and Fight Club Den Bosch, which is headed by William van Roosmalen. The fight was hardly started before it was over, Zubco falling victim to a counter left hook which ended his night less than a minute in.
The shot was impressive on a number of levels. Duut was clearly restraining his usual reckless aggression and that gave him the ability to read his opponent and find the opening; he also hit the shot as he was moving backwards. Knockout blows while moving backwards are relatively uncommon and require great timing as well as power.
For his second fight of the evening he faced Manny Mancha of the USA. The Californian brought a 2-0 GLORY record with him to the ring but only made the final because his semi-final opponent Imad Hadar suffered a freak self-inflicted arm injury during their bout and was unable to continue, handing the win to Mancha.
It is no offense to Mancha to say that the result of the fight with Duut was essentially a foregone conclusion. Duut entered the ring looking ready to burst out of his own skin, fizzing with energy and eagerness for the fight to start. Mancha looked like he had shown up out of a sense of duty rather than any realistic prospect of getting the win.
From the opening bell to the finish took a mere twelve seconds. Duut marched across the ring, bulled Mancha back into his own corner and then berated him with a series of left hooks and overhand rights.
Mancha did land one good counter-right but that was as far into the fight as he got. He left himself exposed for the left hook and Duut took advantage, landing his favorite shot and seeing it score a KO for the second time in the tournament.
Duut’s total ring time tonight was 48 seconds. It was not a length of time which tested the limits of endurance and mental strength that his training camp had built up, but it does not mean those preparations went to waste. It was because of them that Duut entered the arena in a state of supreme confidence and was able to storm his way to victory in such decisive fashion.
Michael Duut def. Manny Mancha by knockout (left hook). Round 1, 0:12
Manny Mancha def. Imad Hadar by TKO (injury). Round 2, 1:22
Michael Duut def. Dragos Zubco by knockout (left hook). Round 1, 0:36