Last time David Light was in Florida six months ago, he needed less than three minutes to dispatch of his opponent.
But the Kiwi cruiserweight (19-0, 12 KOs) is anticipating a much tougher night’s work on his return to the Sunshine State next month to face American Brandon ‘Bulletproof’ Glanton (17-0, 14 KOs) in what is shaping up as a potential world title eliminator.
Auckland’s Light – a 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medalist – is ranked No 6 by the WBO, with Glanton seventh in the same organisation’s rankings.
So when the two unbeaten contenders meet at the White Sands Event Center near Tampa on December 3 (NZT), not only will the vacant WBO Global and International titles be on the line, they’ll also be fighting for a mandatory shot at Lawrence Okolie’s world crown.
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That’s why Light jumped at the chance to tackle the dangerous Glanton at short notice, knowing he would be only one step away from fulfilling his dream of becoming a world champion.
“It came about pretty suddenly,” Light told Stuff of his unexpected opportunity to fight in a world title eliminator, which is live on pay-per-view via ProBox TV.
“The WBO basically wanted the fight to happen. I think they’ve been looking at us and thinking, ‘that’s a good fight’ from moving us up.”
The 31-year-old Light is certainly not underestimating his powerful opponent, a former NFL player who holds an 82% knockout ratio and has threatened to “lay him out cold”.
Alongside trainer Isaac Peach, he has been studying Glanton and devising a gameplan to take him down in his own backyard.
“I think it will probably be a bit tougher [than his last fight in Florida against Anthony Martinez]. He looks like he’s probably more resilient and he looks pretty stacked,” Light said of his outspoken rival di lui.
“He’s obviously really strong and is a bit of a pressure-type fighter, so he’s pretty active and always pushing forward.
“He seems to stick to his opponents like mud and keep them working hard, till they can’t any more. He usually gets that knockout, but I think he’s had basically one real test.
“All of the other ones have just been kind of guys who were never going to be able to handle that. This is his first test in a while, with me.”
That test was against the then undefeated ‘Nigerian Pit Bull’ Efetobor Apochi in June last year, a fight Glanton won via split decision.
The rest of his opposition leaves a lot to be desired, and gives Light confidence he will be too skilled and “versatile” for the comparatively one-dimensional California native.
“He’s basically only got one mode. I don’t think he’s got a lot of flexibility in his style,” Light said. “So what I’ve seen in the past is basically what I’m expecting [on the night]. I think we’re going to be able to deal with it.
“I think he’s fought a lot of people who haven’t been able to deal with it, but I’ve been doing this for 16 years now. I’ve fought all around the world, fought pressure fighters and that kind of stuff before So tricks aren’t going to work on me.”
To prepare for the challenge, Light has been sparring against heavyweights, including his Peach Boxing team-mate Kiki Toa Leutele (8-2-2, 7 KOs), who lost a thriller to rising Australian star Justis Huni in Brisbane earlier this month.
Light said Leutele’s aggressive, front-foot style had been “perfect for this fight” as it closely mirrored Glanton’s expected approach.
“I think this is the most prepared I’ve been, sparring wise, for a fight. By a long shot, actually,” Light said.
Kiwi heavyweight Kiki Toa Leutele goes down swinging in a spirited defeat to Justis Huni in Brisbane.
“Kiki just stays in front of you and keeps putting the pressure on. What Isaac wanted him to do against Justis is basically what we think Brandon Glanton is going to do to me. So it’s been pretty much perfect.”
Light will fly out to the United States on Saturday to acclimatise for what is his most significant fight since his gold medal match against Canada’s Samir El-Mais in Glasgow eight years ago.
But the in-demand Peach will join him later as he will be in Mea Motu’s corner when the Kiwi challenges Iranian Nastaran Fathi (7-0, 2 KOs) for the WBC Asia super bantamweight title in Dubai on Sunday.
Motu (14-0, 6 KOs) will then head to the US herself to take part in reality TV show Celebrity Making of A Champion, for which she’ll be mentored by former heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon.
Light appeared unfazed by the scheduling snafu and he will have Peach’s brother Boaz with him as he puts the finishing touches to his plan to gatecrash the world scene.
He predicted an entertaining “high volume punch fight” with Glanton from which he will ultimately prevail.
Only then will ‘The Great White’ start thinking about a world title showdown with Britain’s Okolie next year – a matchup he can’t wait to get his teeth into.
“I’ve fought tall guys like Okolie before and know how to handle myself in those situations,” Light said of the lanky Englishman.
“These are opposite kind of fights. Okolie is nothing like Glanton. But you need versatility in your game, mate.”
AT A GLANCE
What: David Light v Brandon Glanton
Where: Whitesands Events Center, Plant City, Florida
When: Sunday, December 3 (NZT), live on ProBox TV