Glory CEO Discusses 2015 Plans, Mike Tyson as Commentator, Navy vs. Air Force Bout

By John Joe O'Regan Jan 20, 2015
Photo: Dave Mandel/

Leading kickboxing promoter Glory has mapped out most of its event calendar for 2015 and is planning to stage an event “every four to six weeks,” according to CEO Jon Franklin.

Most of those events will be in the United States, Franklin told over the weekend, but events are also planned for locations in Europe and elsewhere, catering both to international demand and the interests of Spike TV, Glory’s stateside broadcaster.

“We’re excited about the plans for 2015. We’ve got a very steady live event calendar lined up, taking the show around the U.S. and to international locations,” Franklin said. “We are a global brand, and actually, that’s one thing Spike TV really likes about us. We bring some exotic locations to the table.

“We’ve got a complete calendar for 2015 with almost one event per month from April, though we are taking July off. On Feb. 6, we are in Virginia with Glory 19, and then at the end of March, we will relocate to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to begin working on Glory 20, which takes place there April 3.”

Franklin said the organization will likely revisit U.S. cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles in the fall, and that a “very big, special event with a partner” is also in the works.

Last week, Glory revealed that Mike Tyson will join the commentary team for Glory 19. The former heavyweight boxing champion is known to be a fan of every type of fight sport -- he’s been cageside for several UFC events -- and he nearly fought under kickboxing rules himself.

Back in 2003, Japanese kickboxing organization K-1 was attempting to make headway in the U.S. They wanted to sign Tyson to fight Bob Sapp -- at that point a terrifying entity -- but the deal fell through. Regardless, this will not be Tyson’s first encounter with the sport.

“I worked with Mike back in the days of ‘America Presents.’ From his fight with Francois Botha through to his fight with Brian Nielsen, we were his promoter of record,” said Franklin. “Then, more recently, my TV production company produced the television broadcast for his last few ‘Iron Mike Production’ fights. So Briar [Schreiber, head of operations] and I have been seeing a lot of Mike over the years.

“We did some shoots with Mike in the last six months and he mentioned that he thought Glory was a cool promotion and that he would like to see a live show some time. We said, ‘For sure, we’d love to get you out there,’ so we’re bringing him out to Virginia. And I think it’s nice to have a heavyweight champion there to watch our own heavyweight championship fight.”

The heavyweight title fight pits defending champion Rico Verhoeven against Errol “The Bonecrusher” Zimmerman. It is both a championship fight and a rubber match: Zimmerman won their 2012 encounter via knockout, and Verhoeven won their 2013 rematch by way of unanimous decision.

Also on the card is a co-main event between Joe Schilling and young Canadian prospect Robert Thomas, plus a four-man welterweight contender tournament. Nieky Holzken, Raymond Daniels, Alexander Stetcurenko and Jonathan Oliveira will battle it out for a shot at welterweight champion “Bazooka” Joe Valtellini.

The event is taking place in Hampton, Va., home to the largest concentration of military bases in the U.S., and that has led to a unique bout being added to the card.

“What we’ve been able to do -- and we think this is really cool -- is set up a match between two fighters from rival branches of the Armed Forces. There will be a fight between a Navy and Air Force member,” Franklin said. “For security reasons, we are only able to refer to them by their first names, Mitch and Cedric, but these are both experienced fighters. They compete regularly under MMA rules, and one of them also has a boxing background. They are also involved in their service’s combatives programs.”

“Spike TV are going to air this fight and, with a crowd of Navy and a crowd of Air Force in the arena, I think there will be some real noise for that one. We’re presenting that bout in association with Veteran Operation Wellness (VOW), a non-profit charitable organization focused on health and wellness for veterans.”


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