BONJASKY proclaims he's back !
“I’m back - and I am coming for the No. 1 spot,” Remy Bonjasky warned his fellow heavyweights as he made a successful return to the kickboxing ring tonight.
The enforced retirement - caused by a recurring eye injury - did not seem to have dulled his skills any. On the contrary, against Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva he demonstrated improved boxing on the way to a decision win that came after four rounds of intense fighting. Silva has emerged as a contender in the last 12 months and it was a tough opponent to come back to after such a long absence.
“Braddock is a very, very tough fighter. Very tough. But that was what I wanted. I didn’t want to come back against an easy opponent and get an easy win that means nothing. I wanted a hard fight that was going to test me and show whether or not I have a place in the ring these days. And I think tonight you can see for yourself that I am still able to fight with the best,” Bonjasky said in his dressing room after the fight.
“Yes I have been away for three years but I haven’t wasted that time. First, I’ve been working on boxing a lot while I have been ‘retired’ and I have made a lot of improvement in that area, I think my boxing now is better than it has ever been. Second, I am a coach to fighters including Danyo Ilunga and I think that has made me improve my own style as well.
“When you are watching someone and correcting their mistakes, it can make you relate that to mistakes in your own game as well. And so you try to absorb the same lesson and fix the mistakes that you have. So coaching for me has been a very good experience because it has also made me better as a fighter. Now I look forward to the Heavyweight Grand Slam in December and I am telling all the other heavyweights - be ready, because I am back in business!”
Bonjasky and Braddock fought three rounds to a draw before judges ordered a fourth round as a means of determining a winner. Both were showing signs of fatigue in the final round but it was still fought at a frenetic pace. The preceding three had been non-stop war as Braddock sought to knock Bonjasky out completely and Bonjasky worked high and low with crisp combinations.
Also on display was the famous flying knee that earned Bonjasky so many wins over the years. He uses the technique the way that some fighters use a right cross; it’s an everyday part of his arsenal. Braddock was prepared for it and did well to avoid it but the fans went crazy anyway - Remy Bonjasky’s flying knee is to kickboxing what Michael Jordan’s slam dunk is to basketball. To see it live and in person is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“What can I say?” a dejected Braddock remarked. “I am so happy that I faced Remy Bonjasky. He was one of my heroes growing up and I used to watch him on TV. He is a legend and it is a big moment for me that I was able to face him in the ring. But I wanted to win and personally I thought that I won the extra round. The judges didn’t agree but it doesn’t matter, I will be in the Heavyweight Grand Slam in December and maybe we meet again.”
Pierre Andurand, Chairman of GLORY, saluted both Bonjasky and Braddock after the match. “We deliberately gave Remy a tough comeback fight because we wanted to see immediately that he was still able to compete at the highest level.
“And he showed tonight that he can; Braddock is a very tough opponent and has now given two of the top names in the sport some of their hardest career fights. He lost the fight tonight but he gained a lot of fans and a lot of respect. He has nothing to be ashamed of.”
Andurand also paid tribute to Gokhan Saki, whom Andurand described as “probably the most frightening and ferocious heavyweight out there today. Saki showed us tonight just why he has so many fans around the world and why he is considered pound-for-pound one of the most exciting fighters on the planet.”
Saki’s co-main event fight with Mourad Bouzidi had the entire Vorst Nationaal Arena on its feet from beginning to end. Saki is of Turkish heritage while Bouzidi is of Tunisian extraction and there was more than a little national pride riding on the meet. But more importantly there was the pride of a fighter on the line and, with both of them being considered knockout artists, only one was going to walk away as the winner.
In the end it was Saki, but Bouzidi showed such amazing heart and willpower to stay in the fight that he was applauded just as warmly as the winner when the result was announced. Saki had nearly put him away in the second round with a hard left hook followed by multiple combinations, flurries that were like a force of nature swirling around the desperate guard of the beleagured Bouzidi.
“It was a good fight for sure. I was surprised that I did not finish him with some of those punches but he is a tough guy. But I showed that I was a different class for the fight and also that I have learned many new things since I moved to Amsterdam and started training at Mike’s Gym earlier this year,” Saki remarked.
“What new things I learned? I can’t say, its secret for now. But there are some new skills and some new tricks and if you keep watching you will see them and you will see some knockouts. If you want to see real striking then there is only one place to see it - and to see me - and that is GLORY. Nothing else comes close.”
Saki goes on to take part in the GLORY 4 Tokyo Heavyweight Grand Slam event on Dec. 2, headlined by a one-night 16-man heavyweight tournament featuring an unprecedented collection of superstars.