By John O’Regan
Last time Kevin VanNostrand was in Madison Square Garden he stormed a four-man Featherweight Contender Tournament, winning back-to-back fights in one night to put his name into the title contender mix.
He would have been challenging featherweight champion Robin van Roosmalen in the GLORY 48 NEW YORK main event but the champion suffered an eye injury which pulled him out of the bout. An interim featherweight championship bout was thus scheduled in its stead.
The opposing spot was taken by Muay Thai stylist Anvar Boynazarov, coming off a huge stoppage win over Fabio Pinca at GLORY 47 last month.
These are two of the hardest-hitting fighters in the featherweight division, with a string of stoppage wins to their name. The chances of finish were always going to be high, but nobody predicted just how quickly and how dramatically the fight would end.
VanNostrand blitzed Boynazarov as soon as the bell sounded to start the first round, dispensing with any kind of feeling-out process. Boynzarov matched his pace and a firefight commenced.
Having jump-started the fight, VanNostrand held the advantage and had Boynazarov on the back foot. Thirty seconds in, he delved into his considerably large bag of tricks and came up with a flying knee.
Boynazarov timed it. He fired off his trademark left hook to counter the knee and caught VanNostrand clean, turning the Syracuse man horizontal in mid-air and sending him to the canvas in a manner eerily reminiscent of his Pinca stoppage.
The crowd in New York was heavily populated by VanNostrand fans and they fell silent for a moment. He regained his feet and took an eight-count from the referee, insisting he was fine to continue fighting.
Boynazarov smelled blood and seized his chance, charging at VanNostrand and setting about him, hoping to finish him off for good. But as old wisdom has it, an animal is most dangerous when it is wounded, and Boynazarov found that out the hard way.
Crowding VanNostrand, he took a knee strike to his midsection. For a second or two more he carried on working, but then his central nervous system finally registered the force of the blow. Boynzararov turned away and dropped to both knees, face contorted in pain.
Several seconds in to the referee’s count it was clear that Boynazarov would not be getting up; the pain was simply too bad. VanNostrand turned cartwheels in celebration as his fans erupted in joy.
Once the official result was announced, VanNostrand took possession of the interim featherweight championship belt. It’s the first major title to go to Syracuse, New York but according to VanNostrand it won’t be the last – his sights are now set on a unification battle with Van Roosmalen early next year.
Kevin VanNostrand def. Anvar Boynazarov by knockout (knee to the liver). Round 1, 1:06 – for interim featherweight title