Giorgio Petrosyan

Another check-up and another ‘all clear’ for “The Doctor,” as Giorgio Petrosyan continues his 2015 comeback with a majority decision win over Enriko Kehl at Okatagon 2015.

The pound-for-pound king of kickboxing secured his second win this year, besting Kehl over three rounds. Petrosyan looked pretty comfortable in the first two, but Kehl mounted a comeback in the third; albeit a little too late.

With a win over Erkan Varol and now Kehl, it looks like Petrosyan is finally ready to re-introduce himself to the world as he edges ever closer to reclaiming his number one spot above the -70kg division.

Realistically, he could probably walk into a title fight with Robin van Roosmalen on his name value alone, however a rematch with Andy Ristie would be far more fitting for the dream comeback, as the Italian fighter looks to create a storybook ending for his recovery story.

At GLORY 12 New York in November 2013, Ristie came up against a man who many believed to be invincible, Petrosyan hadn’t lost in six years (his first and only loss at that point) and even that was questionable, losing a decision to Nonthanan Por. Pramuk on a Por. Pramuk show in Bangkok, Thailand.

Although Petrosyan had openly suffered with injuries to his ‘brittle’ hands, which was a huge factor in New York City, and in all honesty, it came down to the best ever Andy Ristie facing a below par Petro with the Surinamese fighter scoring the shock third round knockout.

A non-existent jab, a terrible guard and no real use of his hands; although understandable, “The Doctor” was forced to utilise his leg kicks, which Ristie shrugged off with definitive smugness.

That win sky-rocketed Ristie’s popularity and prestige, as he pushed for a world championship, only to fall to Davit Kiria at GLORY 14: Zagreb in one of the greatest comeback wins in the history of kickboxing.

As for Petrosyan, he disappeared. Away from the spotlight, into the unknown, he took a year away to finally recover fully from his hand injuries and re-evaluate his position as the number one in the world. A tough ask for someone who has spent the majority of his career as the best in the sport.

Giorgio Petrosyan
Giorgio Petrosyan after winning GLORY 3: Rome lightweight tournament

During that lengthy period where the Italian sat on the sidelines, media members and fans constantly asked whether or not Petrosyan would ever return to the ring. As the months progressed, and a return nowhere in sight, the severity of his injuries were implicitly questioned as potentially career ending.

Battling injury and the mental scars left over from his loss to Ristie, Petrosyan only recently made it aware that 2014 was an incredible struggle both inside and outside the ring. The ghosts of New York clearly haunted Giorgio, but as the end of 2014 loomed, the king announced his return, a fight with Erkan Varol at Thai Boxe Mania 2015.

We rejoiced at the thought of “The Doctor’s” second coming, but it still lingered at the back of our minds, which Giorgio Petrosyan will return? The man who solidified himself as one of the greatest ever, or the fighter plagued by injury, a shadow of his former self?

I don’t believe the Varol fight answered those doubts. It was a dominant win for Petrosyan, but that is what was expected. That is why his bout with Kehl was so monumentally important, his first real test back in the spotlight, but again, the safety blanket was preserved due to it taking place in Petrosyan’s native Italy.

Giorgio Petrosyan
Giorgio Petrosyan at the world famous Church Street Boxing

Say what you want about fair judging, but especially in kicboxing and muay thai, if it is a close fight the judges are more than likely to be swayed by the fan reaction and award the win to the home talent.

Another win, but still much left to prove. Now Petrosyan must embark on his quest for redemption, to seek his chalice of solitude.

Securing a rematch with Andy Ristie is most pivotal for his resurgence. Although, Ristie looked out of his depth at GLORY 20, losing a unanimous decision to van Roosmalen; so should a rematch materialise with Giorgio (which more than likely will take place in Milan, Italy), it makes for an interesting second stanza.

A three round fight is where Ristie is most deadly, in control of his cardio, and not having to worry about preserving the gas tank. Petrosyan looked good against Kehl in their three round contest. The Armenian born fighter did start to deter in the final round, but if he is at 100% health, then in my opinion, it makes for a potential fight of the year scrap between two men desperate for a shot at absolution.

After that, should the two time K-1 MAX champion be victorious, it sets up the final piece to the puzzle, the last page in the story of vindication, a championship chance against van Roosmalen.

Petrosyan already holds a victory over RvR, beating the Dutchman on points at GLORY 3: Rome, but now it’s a whole new world, and the perception has polarised. It is the champion who now has the ball in his court, after two sensational back-to-back wins over Kiria and Ristie, with the latter showcasing the best performance of his career.

Both men are profound technical strikers, and if Petrosyan can exhibit why he was so highly touted, then it is going to be an fascinating contest.

A win for Petrosyan over Ristie and RvR means more than just a successful comeback for the 29-year-old. It will symbolise arguably one of the greatest returns from one of the sport’s most decorated athletes, whose future for so long hung in the balance.

You always remember your idols growing up, and for many Petrosyan was that man, having dominated kickboxing for over a decade. Now, we wait patiently for his re-arrival to the top of the sport, and when he reclaims his position as the undisputed number one, it will once again feel like business as usual.

Image Copyright: GLORY Sports International