‘Bazooka’ Joe Valtellini is watching this weekend’s GLORY 16 DENVER card closely.
The card is headlined by a welterweight title fight between Marc De Bonte (86-11-1, 28 KO’s) and Karapet Karapetyan (43-9-2, 4 KO’s). The winner takes the vacant belt – and will immediately find himself in the sights of Canada’s top 170lb striker.
“The top of the division is quite close but I finished as a runner-up in the welterweight tournament [at GLORY 13] in Tokyo and I feel like I deserve the shot at whoever the title holder is after this weekend’s fight,” the Toronto man tells Bloody Elbow.
“Being the champion is the what I prepare for all day, every day and I can’t wait to get that opportunity. I want to show the world that I’m ready and that the future of kickboxing is here.”
The #1-ranked Nieky Holzken was originally set to face De Bonte for the vacant belt but an injury has sidelined him until late summer. The shot would have passed to Valtellini (11-2, 10 KO’s), but he was also recovering from injury and wouldn’t be ready in time.
Karapetyan came third in the tournament and, having got straight back into action with a dominating win over Artur Kyshenko in March, was in line to take the shot. De Bonte in his turn had been due to fight in the December tournament, when he was at #2 in the rankings, but injury prevented him.
The end result is a Top 5 which is very closely matched and still jostling for a definitive pecking order. Few question Holzken’s #1 status but while he is out of action, the four fighters below him are going to get into a dogfight.
“The welterweight division is one of the most competitive right now. You can see that in the quality of the athletes and the kind of fights that they are having,” Valtellini concurs.
“De Bonte or Karapetyan, whichever of them wins, it will be a great match. But I will be ready and no one will stop me from achieving my dream of being champion.”
The title fight takes place on this weekend’s GLORY 16 DENVER main card, which airs live in the US on SPIKE TV and on the Fight Network in Canada. It also features the GLORY debut of UFC veteran Pat ‘HD’ Barry, who started his career with kickboxing and has now come full circle.
Image courtesy of Glory Sports International Ltd