Last night (Sept. 28, 2013) was a rare night where there just wasn't any mixed martial arts (MMA) on the television. But that doesn't mean there wasn't any combat sports. HBO held a highly anticipated and controversial event from Carson, California headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (JCC) facing Bryan Vera and Glory brought there brand of kickboxing to the Ontario, California with Glory 10.
The success of these two events can be argued. Glory packed 2,200 people into the Citizens Business Bank Arena which has a capacity of roughly 10,000 depending on the set up, but they also comped out 800 tickets, which means total sold was 1,400. However, for the first time in a long time, people are talking about and watching kickboxing.
On the flipside, JCC ran off a lot of boxing fans that were insanely loyal to him because of his famous last name by constantly renegotiating the contracted weight with Vera. It showed as the StubHub Center wasn't nearly as full as it was expected to be.
But enough of a background, let's talk about last night.
Joe Schilling and Artem Levin put on a classic
My buddy Dave Walsh over at Liver Kick, described Levin as the Anderson Silva of kick boxing. He meant that Levin is widely considered to be the most technical striker in the sport and is a rhythm fighter. He's insanely good as a counter puncher but also strong when pressing the action.
Levin was the favorite heading into the Glory Middleweight tournament and easily made his way into the finals. His opponent, Joe Schilling, is considered one of the best American Muay Thai kick boxers by most who follow the sport. However, without elbows, it seemed like Levin was clearly going to win a lopsided fight.
That's not what happened. Schilling was able to drop Levin twice. The first was via superman punch that had Levin flat on his stomach. The second was in the fourth round after the judges scored it a majority draw after three. If you can, hunt down this fight. It's a great introduction to kickboxing.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. steals one in Carson
For legal purposes I will not say this fight was a fix. I just don't want to be sued. However, anyone who watched the fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera knows that the decision in favor of Chavez was a crock. Vera not only out landed Chavez, but was able to land the cleaner shots (full fight highlights here).
Last night's decision for Chavez showed two things. The first is that in boxing, it helps being the famous boxer. Because of his last name, Chavez is a huge draw with the Mexican community and therefore a "money" guy in the sport. He was able to dictate the terms of the fight and had them changed to suit his needs.
The second is that athletic commissions need to either start finding younger judges (one judge was 80, another 76) or they need to stop allowing political appointees. I'm sorry but while I understand that this world is all about who you know, that's not an excuse nor is can it continue to be accepted as the norm.
The California State Athletic Commission needs to investigate
Piggy backing on the last point, there needs to be an investigation of what happened at the StubHub Center in Carson. And the unfortunate truth is that it likely won't because fans and media have just come to accept these heinous decisions as just "part of the sport."
If there is no accountability, then there's no reason for anyone to change. Putting your head in the sand just means that combat sports will continue to be marred by controversy and bad decisions. If people start asking questions and filing complaints, there will at least be change, though I can't promise progress.
And again, I legally cannot say "fix". The only proof I have that something stunk is the breakdown of the scorecards that showed how off they really were. And this isn't a "boxing is corrupt" issue. This is a problem with combat sports in general. The round-by-round breakdown is just completely unjustifiable and needs to have someone look into it.
Team Can't Stop Crazy has their coming out party at Glory 10
A huge factor for why kick boxing just hasn't taken off in the United States the same way it has in the Netherlands is because of a lack of stars and gyms. In every city in the United States, you can find a boxing gym. In most suburban towns, MMA gyms are popping up promising to turn your child into the next star.
Kick boxing has just never captured the same interest. Last night at Glory 10, one of the premiere teams was able to show the world that America is producing great fighters. Schilling is one of the most recognizable names from Can't Stop Crazy and took home $150k with his win over Levin.
However, just as impressive was Ky Hollenbeck's win over Albert Kraus. Kraus is no long the fighter he once was, but he's still dangerous in situations about the mid tier of the sport. Hollenbeck crushed him from pillar to post and took home one of the most spectacular wins of the night.
- Sorry I keep harping on it, but that Chavez decision is really getting to me. There's just no way to explain the score card. And what's worse is that I don't think anyone is going to try. It's just going to get swept under the rug and will only be brought up again whenever there's another controversy.
- The pacing on the Glory card was extremely weird. The Facebook prelims started at 9:30 p.m. ET which sounds okay except for the fact that there were only three fights. Then they chose to start the main card at 12:30 p.m. ET. When I have to stay awake past 2am for fights, I get grouchy. You won't like me when I'm grouchy.
- The overall reaction on Twitter was positive for Glory. For the first time in a long time I felt like people were finally getting interested in a sport that I covered as my first job with SBNation.
- The same can't be said about boxing. If you were a fan of boxing before the Chavez card, you're probably rethinking that fandom. If you weren't, it's likely you won't ever give it a chance.