The GLORY REDEMPTION fight between Chenglong Zhang and Bailey Sugden was a meeting of two of the world’s top young featherweight talents.
Zhang, 19, of China and Sugden, 20, of England, are two of the names brought up repeatedly by seasoned observers of the sport when asked to identify future championship prospects.
It seemed inevitable, then, that the two would find themselves staring across a ring at each other one day, waiting for a bell to sound so that they could come forward and engage each other.
Given their youth and relative newcomer status in the professional ranks, it could reasonably have been expected that their first meeting would take place later in their careers.
But the pair’s skills carried them to their sport’s premier league earlier than anybody expected, and so their showdown took place on dark winter’s night in the Netherlands as part of the year’s biggest kickboxing event.
Zhang came in to the fight off the back of winning the GLORY 46 GUANGZHOU Featherweight Qualification Tournament in October.
He won ‘Fighter of the Night’ honors for that performance, in which he demonstrated himself to be the kind of forward-pressure fighter that GLORY likes to showcase. He made both of his tournament opponents fade under his constant close-range attacking.
Sugden’s debut came at GLORY 43 NEW YORK this past summer. It was in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, a venue which has hosted innumerable greats of the fighting arts.
That night it was Sugden’s turn. He boxed aggressively yet elegantly against Arthur Sorsor; his superb use of distance and footwork had him landing without being landed on, the essence of the art of fighting.
Zhang proved a little trickier, not quite as straightforward to box off as Sorsor had been, his Chinese Sanda style throwing up little quirks of combination and reaction, especially in the first round.
For Sugden, these were mere problems to be solved rather than roadblocks on his path to victory. He diligently analyzed what Zhang was presenting him with and came up with solutions so that he would not encounter the same problem twice.
From the outside it was a close and competitive-looking match, albeit with Sugden ahead on the cards. The judges agreed, handing the young Englishman a unanimous decision win after three rounds of fighting. The result will fuel his ascent into the higher reaches of his division.
Bailey Sugden def. Chenglong Zhang, Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)