NEWTON â€” Josh Jauncey didn’t really get to prepare for either of his opponents in the lightweight contender tournament at GLORY 22, held this month in Lille, France.
For weeks, the London-born, Surrey-raised kickboxer trained to face Niclas Larsen in the first bout, only for the hard-hitting Dane to bow out after suffering a severe infection in his foot. Crice Boussoukou, a French fighter with a Muay Thai style, was pencilled in, but issues with his blood test forced him to relinquish the spot to reserve fighter DjimÃ© Coulibaly.
"I had 24 hours to prepare for him, so I watched a few of his fights," said Jauncey, 22. "We knew to watch out for his right hook, and his kicks were pretty good.
"I stayed relaxed and just picked him off for the rest of the fight. He wasn’t blocking low kicks very good, so I just smashed his legs."
Jauncey won by TKO after knocking down Coulibaly twice in the last round and advanced to the final to face Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, an experienced Thai southpaw who manhandled ex-lightweight champ Davit Kiria earlier that night.
While Jauncey entered the final 4-0 in the promotion, his undefeated streak was in jeopardy as he fended off attacks from Sitsongpeenong. Within two minutes of the first round, he endured a cut near his right eye, but maintained a strong defense throughout the entire bout.
He held his own, but ultimately received his first loss in GLORY by unanimous decision, with judges scoring all three rounds 30-27.
"After the fight, I thought it went really badly," said Jauncey. "I was really upset, I thought I got smashed. But when I watched the video, I didn’t at all. I’m not too injured, I’m not bashed up."
"Josh never looked in trouble with him," said his father, Vincent, a former British, Hong Kong and Macau kickboxing champion. "It used to be a few years ago, most of the westerners didn’t last the distance with the Thai fighters. Josh did very well with him."
Despite losing in the final, Josh moved up in GLORY’s lightweight rankings to fourth, establishing himself as a serious challenger for the strap. That’s quite a feat at only 22 years of age, and he credits growing up in a kickboxing family to his success thus far.
The Jaunceys own World Kickboxing Xtrm Fitness in Newton, where Josh trains with his dad and also his 28-year-old brother, Jay. His family has boosted Josh’s physical, in-ring abilities, but his brother has also aided him mentally in how he fights.
"I had a bad temper when I was a kid, and he brought it out of me a lot," said Jauncey with a laugh. "I’m six years younger, so I was much smaller, so I’d always get smashed without him really trying.
"I think that helped me get the toughness and the heart that I have when I fight now. Never in a fight am I as frustrated as I was when I used to fight with him."
(Story contines below video documentary of Josh Jauncey)
WKX has been at its current location for three years, after the building that housed their original gym for nearly two decades mysteriously burnt to the ground in February 2012. While the firewall prevented the blaze from engulfing the Jaunceys’ part of the building, WKX suffered extensive damage from flooding, forcing the family to find a new location and reopen a month later.
"The building was a write-off," said Vincent. "It was frantic, looking around for about five days or so to find something else."
"This was just an empty welding warehouse," recalled Jay of their current building. "What it used to look like, and what it is now â€” and that we did it in a month â€” it’s pretty crazy."
After three years, the Jaunceys have settled into their current digs, with Josh training there constantly. He’s looking ahead to his next fight, and while he may not appear at GLORY 23 in Las Vegas in August, he said he wants to continue fighting for the promotion.
"I think I impressed quite a few people with my last two fights, so maybe I’ll be getting more calls – from other promotions, even," he said. "Since GLORY’s gotten big, Canada has been great at kickboxing.
"We’re doing better than the Americans at kickboxing, but it’s illegal here," he added, citing an oversight in legislation on prize fighting passed in 2013.
"Imagine how much better we could be if it wasn’t illegal and I could fight on some local shows instead of having a couple fights a year at random places in the world."