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Mwekassa goes in on 'disrespectful' former champion Saki

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Former GLORY light-heavyweight champion Gokhan ‘The Rebel’ Saki was not happy when GLORY took the belt from him due to his not having defended it inside the mandatory time period. When the belt was put up to be contested by Saulo Cavalari and Zack Mwekassa at last week’s ‘Dynamite’ event, Saki responded by slamming both fighters publicly, describing them as “B-Level” and not worthy of fighting for ‘his’ title.

Zack Mwekassa and Gokhan Saki have a simmering rivalry
Zack Mwekassa and Gokhan Saki have a simmering rivalry
James Law/GLORY

This sparked a war of words. Cavalari's input was limited as he is still in the process of learning English and also isn't particularly well tuned-in to social media. Mwekassa, on the other hand, was ready to roll. He and Saki got into an extended Twitter beef, remarkable in itself because Saki is usually an incredibly stoic and reserved character.

Professional boxer Mwekassa was unsuccessful in his efforts to capture the belt, going the distance with Cavalari but losing a decision due to Cavalari out-landing him thanks to his more rounded kickboxing game. Minutes after the fight, Saki was back on Twitter to offer his condolences to Mwekassa, sparking another round of exchanges between the two.

According to GLORY matchmaker Cor Hemmers, things are "progressing well" in talks with Saki about a new contract. Hemmers says he is "very confident" that a deal can be put together. GLORY went through a round of cost-cutting earlier this year which saw contract values lowered across the board. Saki declined to accept a lower rate, which is why he has been absent from the ring.

Since winning the GLORY light-heavyweight title in April last year, beating Nathan Corbett and Tyrone Spong back-to-back, he has fought just once, an appearance for faltering Dubai promotion GFC in which he out-pointed Romania's Sebastian Ciobanu.

It was a not a vintage Saki performance; ring-rust was evident. The ‘Turkish Tyson' presumably recognizes that he needs regular competition and that frequent fights will be more lucrative than one-off marquee appearances in regional promotions. If and when he does return, he will go straight into a title shot against Cavalari.

Aside from that, Danyo Ilunga and Artem Vakhitov are also making their presence felt in the light-heavyweight division. They are set to fight on the ‘Superfight Series section of the GLORY 25 MILAN card in November and the winner is in a good position to insert himself into the title shot conversation.

Mwekassa also remains in that conversation, although clearly now there is also a rivalry with Saki which the two might like to settle in the ring. Certainly Mwekassa has taken issue with Saki's comments about himself and Cavalari and would like to set him straight in the most direct way possible.

"Ernesto Hoost, Mike Bernardo, Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky - these are all-time great fighters, legends of the sport, yet I never heard one of them talk about someone and denigrate him. Their actions spoke for themselves. For me that shows standard, it shows class," he tells Bloody Elbow.

"When you are a man, you don't need to convince people you are a man. When you are a leader, when you have money, when you are powerful, you don't need to convince people of these things. So for Saki to talk like this, for me it was significant. It said to me that this is a guy who had to try and remind people who he is.

"I don't have anything against Saki, I don't even know him, but he can't talk about people like that. He doesn't know me or what I have been through. He is a good fighter but he is not great. My reaction was like, ‘this is sad.' Don't talk bad about other people, just be as good as you supposedly are and then people will see that.

"He was disrespectful to me, Saulo, Ilunga, all of us. Being an A-class fighter is about your conduct and how you carry yourself, not just what you do in the ring. If you start trying to step on other people to get recognition, you lose my respect. It is about class.

"He said I should be happy that he mentioned me on twitter. I was like, ‘What!? Who are you? Are you the Pope, are you Jesus, that I should be glad you mentioned me? I won the Knockout of the Year in 2014, what do I need you to mention me for?'" he exclaims.

"Saki mentioned me? How exciting for me..."

Mwekassa's rise through the ranks of GLORY's light-heavyweight division has been phenomenal, marked by concussive knockouts of the kind he inflicted on Pat ‘HD' Barry at GLORY 16 DENVER in what was the organizational debut for both. With the back-and-forth between he and Saki an ongoing thing, Mwekassa aims a veiled warning at the former champion.

"I am not the kind of person to trash-talk, but I am very good at it. And not only that, I throw bombs too. I am scared of nothing. What can scare me? I have witnessed war, volcanic eruption, all the cruelty that man can do to his fellow man - do you really think that somebody in a pair of boxing gloves can scare me?"

GLORY's next event takes place Friday, October 9 and is headlined by Joe ‘Stitch ‘Em Up' Schilling against rising Dutch threat Jason ‘Psycho' Wilnis. GLORY 24 DENVER takes place at the Magness Arena, Denver, Colorado and also features a four-man Heavyweight Contender Tournament. It will air live in the US on Spike TV.