LAS VEGAS -- Raymond Daniels had visions of exacting revenge against Nieky Holzken, the last man to beat him in the pro kickboxing ranks. The Californian was stopped by Holzken during a one-night tournament in February, but Daniels believed that things would be different in their rematch on Friday at Glory 23. He was wrong.
Daniels, known for his flashy style and wild attacks, was all over the steady Holzken from the start. His spinning head kicks and back-kicks to the body came from every angle imaginable, but Holzken was able to block most of the attacks. Still, Daniels was full of energy and tried everything in his arsenal to get the multiple-time world champion off his game.
Holzken began landing harder shots in the third and, when he caught his foe in the clinch, delivered a right knee that opened a gruesome cut on Daniels’ left eyelid. Blood immediately poured from the laceration, thwarting Daniels’ vision. Holzken went in for the kill, applying even more pressure and landing hard punches to the head and body. When he trapped Daniels in a neutral corner, Holzken unfurled a vicious attack to the head and body.
At that point, Daniels (7-3, 6 KOs) said something to Holzken, who backed away. Referee John McCarthy quickly intervened, and it appeared as though Daniels quit. McCarthy and Daniels had a brief conversation, and when “Big John” took a look at the cut on Daniels’ brow, he waived off the fight, officially ending it 1:36 into the third.
“The blood was coming into my eye and it was hard to see, but it was Big John’s call,” Daniels said after the fight. “I would love a third match with him. He won tonight. My hat goes off to him.”
With the win, Holzken captured the Glory welterweight title that was vacated earlier this year by Joe Valtellini.
“It feels like two years ago in Tokyo,” Holzken said. “I never lost the feeling. I never lost the belt. They took it away from me, but now I got it back.”
Holzken (87-11, 46 KOs) also addressed Valtellini, who was sitting ringside: “I hope Joe feels better soon so we can do it again.”
Bay Area heavyweight Xavier Vigney may not have gotten another knockout, but he certainly outclassed and outpointed British foe Daniel Sam over three rounds. Vigney continuously battered Sam’s legs with low kicks, and his right hand routinely found a home on Sam’s head. Sam took everything well, though, and hung tough until the end, never caving under Vigney’s constant pressure.
With only one loss on his pro ledger, “X-Man” had previously scored a knockout in each of his eight wins. It appeared as though Vigney would continue his hot streak when he drilled Sam (26-12, 13 KOs) with a right through the guard in the first, but the muscle-bound Englishman was able to clear his head and avoid being taken off his feet.
Vigney proceeded to win virtually almost every minute of every round en route to what most felt would have been a unanimous decision. However, Vigney was given the nod via split decision, which incited confusion and minor rage throughout the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The scorecards read 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 in favor of Vigney, who improved to 9-1 (8 KOs).
The final round of the Glory 23 four-man middleweight tournament wasn’t expected to be a battle between two men who entered the bracket with losing records. Colorado’s Dustin Jacoby and California’s Casey Greene each beat up opponents with better overall ledgers, though one was more dominant in his opening round affair than the other.
Jacoby made it to the finals of the bracket by clobbering New York’s Ariel Sepulveda in the opening frame. Jacoby rocked Sepulveda (4-2) with a right hand early and then again with a left hook. As Sepulveda stumbled away to try and recover, Jacoby landed a left knee to the face and then another right hand to the jaw. Sepulveda floundered into the ropes, where Jacoby knocked him out cold with a follow-up right with one second remaining in round one.
In Greene’s first battle, he outlasted St. Louis fighter Quinton O’Brien (2-1) across three grueling rounds. Greene started slowly but eventually seized control of the action and landed the far better strikes down the stretch to win a unanimous nod via tallies of 29-28 and 30-27 (twice).
Greene, from Los Angeles, looked refreshed when the final started, but Jacoby was the one with what seemed like an endless supply of stamina. He was all over Greene from the jump, tossing salvos of lead right hands, counter left hooks and knees from all angles. Greene did his best to keep his attacker at bay, but his defense betrayed him late in the first. A right hand crashed clean into Casey’s jaw, buckling his legs. Jacoby swarmed him with a barrage of strikes, finally dropping him along the ropes with a thunderous right hand.
Greene (3-5, 1 KO) was able to beat the count, but the end was just around the corner. One minute into the following frame, Jacoby drilled him with a laser-like straight right through the guard, snapping back Greene’s head. Greene could not escape the onslaught from Jacoby, who was gunning for the knockout. A barrage of rights, lefts and knees finally became too brutal, prompting referee Mark Smith to finally end the mugging, officially ceasing the fight at 1:19 of the second round.
Jacoby’s pair of wins on the night improved his record to 6-6 (4 KOs) and made him the winner of the Glory 23 welterweight qualifying tournament.
Jamal Ben Sadik, a mountainous Moroccan at 6-foot-9, scored the only knockout of the undercard. After trading moderate strikes for the first two rounds with Brazilian heavyweight Anderson Silva, Ben Sadik nailed his foe with a booming right hand midway through the third. Silva was able to beat the count but was on extremely unsteady legs.
Ben Sadik (27-4, 23 KOs) pounded away at his retreating opponent and rocked Silva several more times before dropping him with another right to the jaw with a dozen seconds remaining. Silva (38-13-1, 24 KOs) struggled to his feet and stumbled around, prompting Steve Mazzagatti to call the fight at the 2:55 mark.
Giga Chikadze and Anvar Boynazarov tore into each other for every minute of their featherweight fight, but in the end, only one could have his hand raised. Boynazarov landed the cleaner, harder shots down the stretch and escaped with a split-decision win. The tallies were 29-28 (twice) and 28-29 for the Uzbekistani, who improved to 79-20-2 (45 KOs) with the win. Chikadze, who hails from Georgia, dipped to 33-4 (20 KOs).
In a welterweight affair, Dutch fighter Murthel Groenhart and England’s Chad Sugden went down to the wire in a fight as close as they come. Sugden was just a step quicker and his strikes a tad sharper, allowing him to win a split decision. Sugden (14-4, 3 KOs) was awarded the win with scores of 29-28 (twice) and 28-29. Groenhart fell to 56-18-3 (32 KOs).
Middleweight contender Matt Baker was in control of his bout with Californian fighter Edward Hyman from the start and never relented. Baker peppered his foe with kicks and punches from all angles, keeping Hyman (2-3) guessing the entire time. Baker, who fights out of the Bay Area, was awarded a unanimous nod via tallies of 30-27 on all three scorecards to ascend to 20-5 (10 KOs).