GLORY 17: “Bazooka Joe” Valtellini Talks Marc De Bonte, Champ’s “Comfort Zone”, and Future of Kickboxing
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Joseph Valtellini is coming off a stoppage loss to Nieky Holzken in December, the punishing welterweight has been tapped to fight newly crowned, GLORY champ Marc De Bonte on June 21st. The title shot has materialized thanks to a push from fans, and a shoulder injury to Holzken, and “Bazooka Joe” plans to make De Bonte’s reign a brief one.
“A lot of people, which was cool, the supporters and fans started tweeting out that I deserve that title shot,” the #2 ranked Valtellini (11-2) said while appearing on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently. “With the push on Twitter, and all the social media, GLORY came back and they asked Marc De Bonte if he was ready to fight me right away, and he accepted the fight.”
De Bonte laid claim to the welterweight belt earlier this month at GLORY 16, by scoring a split decision win over Karapet Karapetyan. With the win, the Belgian fighter extend his kickboxing record to an awe inspiring 87-11-1.
“Well Marc’s a great fighter; for him to have won that welterweight title shows a lot,” the 29 year-old, Toronto resident noted about the champ. “One of the big things I would say he has is experience. He’s 24 years old and he already has 100 professional fights…so he does have a lot of experience for being younger.”
“He has a little bit of reach, and he’s pretty good at using his reach, but I feel with my style, and the way I fight it kind of works to my advantage,” added Valtellini, who has scored a TKO or knockout in ten of his eleven pro wins to date. “Against Karapet, they kind of really respected each other so much, but I feel with my style and the way I fight, he’s going to have a lot of trouble…His condition level didn’t look the greatest either, and I feel that my condition levels are going to be a lot better than his fight night, and I’m going to push him out of his comfort zone.”
Valtellini’s title shot comes at a time when GLORY appears to be making inroads in North America, thanks to its broadcast deal with SPIKE. While it remains to be seen whether kickboxing becomes a mainstream staple, GLORY has certainly raised the sport’s profile in recent months.
“I think GLORY is doing the right steps that it needs to make kickboxing popular in North America,” noted Valtellini. “I know a lot of their focus is building their brand in North America. Around the world kickboxing is very big. If you go to Europe, especially in Holland and some of the other places, it’s very popular. So, North America really hasn’t had that chance to kind of see top international kickboxing. With GLORY making it’s push, just like the UFC has, they’ve made their way. They started on SPIKE TV and I know the ratings have been very positive.”
The argument has also been made, that one of the key reasons kickboxing has been undergoing a resurgence in North America, is because of the rise of MMA.
“A lot of the criticisms sometimes from those casual MMA fans is that they don’t really understand the ground game,” Valtellini said. “It’s sad when you’re at a UFC or MMA event and people are booing the ground game. So I think a lot of those people who don’t really appreciate the jiu-jitsu side of MMA are really catching on to the kickboxing.”
“I even think that if you’re a MMA fan there’s no reason why you couldn’t appreciate kickboxing at the same time,” Valtellini furthered. “As a kickboxing fan I still appreciate the UFC and mixed-martial-arts, so hopefully the fans can jump over and appreciate both.”
Valtellini will battle De Bonte at GLORY 17 on June 21st, which will be hosted by the Forum in Inglewood, California. The event’s main card will be available via pay-per-view, and the preliminary card will be broadcast on SPIKE.