New Zealand cruiserweight David Light has earned himself a shot at a world title after a dramatic split decision victory over American Branton Glanton in Florida yesterday.
Light was down in the 10th and final round in Tampa – clearly a slip that was ruled a legitimate knockdown by the referee – but won the fight 97-92, 95-94, 94-95 to become the mandatory challenger to Englishman Lawrence Okolie’s WBO world title.
In an interview with 1News this morning, Light said he expected to fight Okolie in the United Kingdom in March or April next year.
Reflecting on the fight against the hard-hitting Glanton in which Light consciously abandoned his usual jab-first approach for a brawling style, the Aucklander said he was mildly surprised to the get the decision.
“I thought it was a good fight and I thought I probably wouldn’t get the decision given he was the local, he was their big star and all that,” Light said. “I was happy with my performance and that was all I could do.
“When you’re in the other guy’s home town you don’t often get the decision but we did, so kudos to the judges.”
Glanton said afterwards: “As far as the decision, hey I don’t understand, maybe it’s something we can understand later, but for now, congratulations to David Light.”
Light, who moves to a perfect 20-0 record, said he and his trainer Isaac Peach had devised a game plan to take away the previously undefeated Glanton’s space. There was a suspicion that while Glanton was a good puncher, he wasn’t necessarily a good technical boxer.
It was a plan built on pressure and devised in training over 12 weeks with the help of several Kiwi heavyweights, including professional Kiki Toa Leutele, and others, who were told to be “relentless” in putting pressure on Light, with Light responding in the same way.
The plan worked, although it meant Light took punishment against Glanton, and he admitted he was hurt in the 10th round.
“We’ve always had a thing about bullying the bully – to not get pushed around by the bully,” Light said. “He’s used to having people on the back foot but we stopped him in his tracks and he didn’t know what to do. That’s what we’ve been working on.”
Peach said: “It was a hard fight man, really tough.
“They thought we were going to move away but because he [Glanton] is a big, strong puncher we sat right on him and pushed right up close. We fought the whole fight there which they didn’t have a clue we were going to do. We needed to do it – giving that guy room… he’s just too dangerous. He’s an absolute beast. We got there.
“It was a war.”
Light, now on his way to Orlando to watch a UFC event before returning to Auckland, said Okolie had already messaged him.
“I’m not thinking too much about that fight now but we’ll head back and make a camp and get ready.”