Giorgio Petrosyan maintained his position as the world number one lightweight with a completely one-sided decision win over Hafid El Boustati in the main event of GLORY 7 MILAN.
Italy is famous for its many designers and Petrosyan is in this mould. His creativity and the perfection of his small details are what make him such a premium brand in the fighting world. Like many before him, El Boustati foind that Petrosyan simply wasn’t there when he tried to hit him. The slightest movement or sidestep and El Boustati suddenly found himself swinging at air.
On the flipside, his own attacks are masterpieces of timing and precision. Petrosyan seems almost to read his opponent’s minds and know where they are going to be well before they even move. He finds openings everywhere and his southpaw stance makes him even harder to deal with because they add an unusual dimensions to his techniques.
Incredibly, Petrosyan said afterwards that he was not even close to 100% fit for this fight. “I had some injuries and I couldn’t train properly. I broke my left foot in the fight before this and it didn’t really heal properly so I wasn’t able to really run, do padwork or spar much for this fight. But it went OK so I am happy with the result.”
The vanquished El Boustati wasn’t happy - with the result, his performance or Petrosyan’s comments. “I don’t like all this talk about ‘not at 100%’ blah blah blah,” he said. “I think I didn’t really have the right plan for this fight. I’m not happy with myself. But I was not impressed with Petrosyan at all and I would very much like to rematch him.”
El Boustati is rather alone in his opinions though. The 10,000 in attendance found Petrosyan’s performance impeccable as usual, as did the millions watching around the world. Robin van Roosmalen called Petrosyan out for a rematch after their co-main event fight and Petrosyan says he is happy to accept.
“I have no problem with fighting anybody. If that is the fight GLORY wants to make, I am happy to do it,” he said.
Murthel Groenhart vs Robin Van Roosmalen
There was no love lost between these two top lightweight contenders in the build-up to this meeting. Groenhart, tall and rangy, described his shorter opponent as “a leprechaun” with “short little arms and short little legs”. Van Roosmalen takes these things dead seriously, and had a traditional Dutch saying for Groenhart in response: “Tall trees catch all the wind”.
Van Roosmalen also predicted that Groenhart would need to knock him out in the first round if he was going to win. “Otherwise his gas is not good, he gets tired. The longer the fight goes on the harder it is for him and the easier it is for me.”
In the event it was Van Roosmalen who nearly ended the fight in the first round, letting his powerful right hand go as a counter and putting Groenhart down for an eight-count. A huge flurry from Van Roosmalen followed the restart but the end of the round was quickly sounded to give Groenhart a much-needed breathing space.
Groenhart had tried hard for a finish of his own in the first round, starting with fast hard combinations and trying to plant his world-famous knee on Van Roosmalen’s jaw when he covered up. But the K-1 MAX 2012 winner couldn’t crack Van Roosmalen’s defence and the fight began to play out as Van Roosmalen had predicted. Groenhart slowed down, Van Roosmalen if anything speeded up and started to take complete control of the fight.
When the final bell sounded Van Roosmalen jumped up on one corner of the ring and raised his arms. Groenhart didn’t dispute it; the judge’s decision was obvious. “I showed that little leprechauns can punch,” Van Roosmalen said in his post-fight interview. “Now I would like to get a rematch with Petrosyan and prove myself.”
Yuri Bessmertny vs Davit Kiria
Davit Kiria broke out onto the world scene last year with a standout performance in the 2012 GLORY Lightweight Grand Prix. His karate style brought something different to the ring and his cold demeanour also attracted attention. But the main thing fans liked was his super-aggressive approach.
Kiria isn’t a fighter who believes in moving backwards. He keeps forward pressure on his opponent constantly. Bessmertny learned quickly that Kiria will keep marching forward regardless of what is being thrown at him, and the first round seemed to take him a little by surprise as he ended up fighting a rearguard action.
Low-kicking under Kiria’s punches was the gameplan for a while but Kiria seemed not to care. His hand combinations were long and seemingly endless in number, overwhelming Bessmertny by sheer amount. Bessmertny did win some boxing exchanges in the second but not as many as Kiria did, and Bessmertny’s low kicks were having little effect.
Kiria got more love from the crowd thanks to hitting his now-trademark spinning wheel kick once per round, although this time he missed all of them. But there is no doubt he is an exceptional talent and he is going to be a presence in this weight class for a long time to come. His unanimous decision win underlines his top-three status in the GLORY rankings.
Jhonata Diniz vs Rico Verhoeven
Rico Verhoeven is the real deal as a heavyweight prospect. He combines superb technicality with the size and power of an Alistair Overeem. Diniz is young and brave but he learned a hard lesson from Verhoeven, who looked to be in a completely different league to his overmatched opponent.
The combination work from Verhoeven was at times poetry in motion, each shot perfectly placed before returning to a tight guard and taking no damage in return. Creativity was on display too. Verhoeven took an unorthodox route into attacking Diniz’s leg, attacking the inside of Diniz’s rear leg rather than the outside of the lead leg as kickboxers generally do.
The results were spectacular. Diniz had no way to shut this route down for Verhoeven and repeatedly got his legs kicked out from under him. At one point he became so frustrated he started to curse out loud. By the last minute of the fight, Verhoeven was practising new combinations on him.
This is not to say that Diniz does not have a bright future. He has all the essentials, plus the heart of a lion which cannot be taught. He will go back to the gym with a list of things to work on and ultimately, it is fights like this one which produce future champions.
Middleweight (85kg /187lbs)
Sahak Parparyan vs Artem ‘The Lion’ Levin
Both these fighters are champions in their own right and this calsh was highly anticipated by fans ound the world.
Initially Parparyan was having success by covering tight and then countering with a short right hook which gave Levin some problems. Levin adjusted tactics and started letting Parparyan come forward more, walking him onto straight knees to the body as he did. That was one way round Parparyan’s tight guard. Another was the uppercut up the middle, which Levin landed with frequency once he found his distance on it.
The fighters had a round each going into the third. Levin finally earned himself a yellow card for repeatedly causing clashes of the head due to his leaning in on Parparyan to work bodyshots. He shrugged the caution off in his usual carefree manner and continued with his creativity and high workrate while Parparyan began to fade.
The end of the round saw the judges declare the fight a draw and decree that an extra round needed to be fought. This round was all Levin; he had inflicted a badly-broken nose on Parparyan and the Armenian was entirely focused on defending and covering up. Such was Levin’s confidence that he even pulled off a ’shoeshine’ - a long flurry of short shots to the body which is considered a rather showboating technique in the boxing world.
By the end of the round the result was absolutely clear and Levin was awarded the victory. He has only recently moved up to 85 kilograms but is clearly going to be a dominant, if not the dominant, force at this weight class for the foreseeable future.
Chingiz Alazov vs Marat Grigorian
Alazov and Grigorian are two top lightweight prospects and the cognoscenti were anticipating this fight with great interest. It started with the fast pace and high technicality which both have established reputations for, but sadly it ended in a technical draw because of an accident.
Grigorian had gone for a head kick and Alazov had evaded, causing Grigorian to turn in a circle as his kick powered him round. Alazov moved in for a counter-attack at the same time and ran his face right onto one of the rotating Grigorian’s elbows.
He stepped back and immediately blood gushed down his face. The freak collision with the elbow had opened a gash two inches long, vertically between his eyebrows and down the side of one eye. The referee took one look at it and waved the fight off, much to Alazov’s annoyance. The fight was then declared a technical draw.
“For the me the first round was highly technical. It was going to be first round technical, second round I knock him out. Ask my coach, that’s what we planned. I feel bad but maybe we rematch and if we do then its KO round one for me,” Chingiz shrugged afterwards.
Grigorian had similar things to say about Chingiz, declaring himself to be unimpressed by the undefeated youngster. “He was technical but that’s it. He didn’t threaten me and in the rematch I will beat him no problem.”
Sergio Wielzen vs Kaopon Lek
Things started so well for Wielzen in this fight. An attempted spinning heel kick to the head brought gasps of appreciation from the crowd early in the first round and got them onside. Wielzen displayed similar athleticism with his kicks and combination attacks and it briefly looked like he was going to out-trick the former Thai champion, which would have been an unbelievable feat.
But Kaoponlek is as clever as a fox and was just using the first round to have a look at Wielzen. In the second round he opened his own bag of tricks and showed why, at one point, he was forced to have a year off from fighting because there wasn’t a single Muay Thai fighter in his native land who was willing to fighting him.
Early in the second stanze Kaoponlek scored a knockdown with a big left straight then piled pressure on Wielzen. A groin shot briefly earned Wielzen a rest but once the action recommenced Kaoponlek was showing no mercy. A body kick staggered Wielzen backwards and then a series of knees in the corner made him slump to the fooor for his second eight count of the fight, just before the round ended.
As you would expect, the former champion of Thailand is ridiculously strong in the clinch and from the second round onwards he was literally throwing Wielzen to the floor at will. That is energy sapping enough, without the barrage of knees and kicks which Kaoponlek was hammering into him non-stop. In the third round, the canvas became Wielzen’s temporary home and his cardio visibly evaporated. From there Kaoponlek landed shots at will on the way to winning a clear unanimous decision.
Michael Duut vs Steve McKinnon
McKinnon is a multi-time world champion in Muay Thai while Duut is a young prospect from the Meijiro Gym in Amsterdam, home of Andy Souwer and other luminaries. These two wasted no time getting stuck in. Going nose to nose as the referee brought them together at the start of the fight, they started trash talking each other and threatening each other with a knock outs.
There was no touch of gloves when round one commenced; they went straight at each other with bad intentions. So commenced three rounds of absolute war in which they sought to make good on their pre-fight promises. Duut came forward with relentless heavy pressure, trying to use the knockout power he has in both hands.
McKinnon’s seasoning and Muay Thai background showed through in his technicality as he sought to counter-kick and knee under Duut’s punches as he set his feet. By the third round he had visibly slowed Duut down but the young Dutchman’s pressure with heavy combinations in the first two rounds was relentless.
The judges decided Duut was the winner of the fight, awarding him the first two rounds, but the crowd disagreed. Duut expressed disbelief at the crowd reaction afterwards. “Were they watching the same fight?” he said. “I was hitting him hard with left and right hands, he was only making kicks which I blocked. I can’t believe anyone thought he won that fight.”
Karapet Karapetyan vs Roberto Cocco
Karapetyan and Cocco opened the night in fine style with a hard-fought bout that showcased two very different styles. Cocco, a veteran of 150 fights and a boxing champion to boot, showed high-class head movement and footwork while Karapetyan brought power, technicality and a relentless work ethic to the table.
Round one was Cocco’s. As Karapetyan surged forward with big shots Cocco was superb in his evasion, countering and distancing. Karapetyan’s most noteworthy moment in round one was a huge body kick two minutes in. It really hurt Cocco and may have been instrumental in the fight as Cocco noticeably slowed down afterwards.
In the second round Karapetyan was unlucky not R2 kk unlucky tnot to have hkj scored a kd, ref felt otherwise but cocco maybe got lucky. Certainly cocco seemed to have lsot some wind from his sails and kk came to life with flying knees and head kicks efforts. His switch knee scored several times and while Cocco still strung together some nice hand combo’s, head body, the heavier damage was clearly being done by Karapetyan
GLORY 7 MILAN hosted superstars both in and out of the ring. Inside the ropes, eighteen of the world’s combatants faced off against each other in a display of world-class kickboxing action. Outside the ropes was a sold-out crowd of 10,000 dotted with Italian celebrities, among whom there was an elite kicker of a different kind.
Top footballer Mario Balotelli, a star striker for AC Milan and the Italian national team, is a huge kickboxing fan. Balotelli actually wanted to take up kickboxing training several years ago but was prevented from doing so by his football club, who were terrified he might hurt his legs. He asked for a seat as close as possible to the ring for GLORY 7 MILAN and hardly moved from it all night, hooked on the action.