But when a shoulder injury forced him to withdraw two weeks ago, Van Roosmalen’s loss turned out to be Kevin VanNostrand’s gain: he was moved into the slot opposite Petchpanomrung, with the interim title back on the line.
That interim belt has been around VanNostrand’s waist once before. He won it in Madison Square Garden when Van Roosmalen was on a previous injury hiatus, only for Van Roosmalen to come back at GLORY 52 and reassert himself as the undisputed champion over five rounds.
Now, karate stylist VanNostrand (17-2, 12 KO’s) is happy to be potentially just one win away from another shot at the undisputed world title. If he wins the interim title again he will have a guaranteed title shot.
“I have been afforded another opportunity to really show the world who I am and what I am really capable of in the GLORY ring. Of course I want a rematch with Robin. I would have taken the rematch at any of the following events starting with GLORY 53,” he says.
First though there is the business of facing Petchpanomrung (159-36-2, 27 KO’s).
The Thai contender has had a title shot before and came closer than any other challenger to winning the belt, defending champion Van Roosmalen only securing a Majority Decision at GLORY 41.
Since then Petchpanomrung has blasted his way through Zakaria Zouggary and Abdellah Ezbiri, stopping both with head kicks, to secure himself another title shot.
“Petch brings to the table the same thing that all good fighters bring: a challenge. I’ve learned a lot over my last three fights and the key to victory against him is to be smart & calculated,” says VanNostrand.
“I don’t see any advantage in the different styles that we have as our backgrounds as I don't focus on an opponents style.
“I keep myself focused on what my style is and what skills I possess and how that can translate when I’m in a fight. He’s a very experienced Muay Thai fighter and I respect his accomplishments.”
For his part, Petchpanomrung has cheerfully observed that, while the fight is set for five rounds, he is “aiming to finish it in three” and that “the head kick is coming” for VanNostrand as soon as the New Yorker provides an opening.
“Well, the last opponents I have been against have all had comments about how they felt the fights were going to end. None ended as predicted,” shrugs VanNostrand.
“So we will have to see what this fight and his prediction bring. Much respect to Petch, but I’m coming to regain my title.”