On December 10th at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany, one of the most highly-anticipated kickboxing fights in history will take place at GLORY Collision.
GLORY heavyweight champion Rico “The Prince of Kickboxing” Verhoeven (48-10) will take on former K-1 and It’s Showtime heavyweight champ “The Golden Boy” Badr Hari (106-12) in a super-fight that many fight fans have asking for.
Over the years, there have been so many “dream matchups” that have failed to materialize. Boxing has been one of the biggest perpetrators, rarely giving fans what they want. GLORY, however, is looking to make kickboxing’s biggest possible fights a reality. They know that’s how they’re going to bring eyeballs to a sport that is growing in popularity but still looked upon as the ugly step-brother to MMA here in North America.
Badr Hari is widely considered one of the baddest dudes on the planet and one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. He’s KOed a who’s-who kickboxing elite in his storied career; his powerful right hand is the stuff of legend. But for all of the ups throughout his career, his life outside the ring has been tarnished by downs. They call him “Bad Boy” for a reason as he’s considered a hot head when it comes to his public image. He has a rap sheet a mile long, filled with assaults and prison time for brutally attacking innocent bystanders.
When he’s not getting in hot water for late-night fights, Badr Hari is still feared within the squared circle. But his biggest test is coming when he has to face the very technical Rico Verhoeven, who has been far more active lately.
The sport of kickboxing needs this fight; we are passed the “golden era” of K-1 from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Nowadays, there’s a lack of money and purses in the sport and many top fighters are moving to mixed martial arts as a result. Even Verhoeven is considering making a move to the UFC in the not too distant future.
But he’s still a kickboxer for now. So, as this legendary fight between two of the best heavyweights on the planet draws nearer, let’s preview and predict who will come out victorious at GLORY Collision.
Rico Verhoeven (48-10) vs. Badr Hari (106-12)
Verhoeven (2/3) vs Hari (3/2)
While Hari has been dealing with legal troubles, Verhoeven has been racking up victories and accolades as the best heavyweight kickboxer on the planet. His career lacks that defining scalp needed to be labeled the best of all time, though. The legendary Badr Hari could provide just that in what is being billed as the epic showdown between the new guard versus the old guard.
The current GLORY heavyweight champion, Rico “The Prince of Kickboxing” Verhoeven has enjoyed a long reign of dominance over the division. In 12 GLORY fights, he has one loss on his resume and that was a decision defeat to the great Semmy Schilt back in 2012. Verhoeven is a very technically sound fighter who likes to use his lead jab as his primary tool of facial destruction. That jab has become even more dangerous ever since he started training with heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury.
But a nice jab doesn’t knock a lot of guys out. Although he has some impressive wins over the likes of Daniel Ghita, Errol Zimmerman, and Peter Aerts, his fights have been known to go to the judges. There’s nothing wrong with winning bouts via decision, but when your KO rate is around 26-percent, the technical factors might get overlooked by fans who want highlight-reel knockouts.
Badr “The Golden Boy” Hari is the man who supplies the knockouts that fight fans clamor for. The Moroccan fighter from Amsterdam has competed in 118 fights, with 106 wins and 12 losses. But here’s the key stat, out of those 106 wins, “The Golden Boy” has won by knock-out 94 times! Only thirteen of his wins have gone to decision. That’s why they like to call his devastating right hand the “sleeping pill.”
If you compare these two combatants on paper, this super-fight could actually be considered a mismatch with many people thinking that Hari is a more dominant fighter. That might be true at first glance, but thankfully fights aren’t decided via stats and paper; styles make fights and Verhoeven’s technical prowess could be Hari’s undoing.
Some kickboxing pundits will focus on Hari’s raw power, but the age and years of inactivity could make him susceptible to a more technical fighter in Verhoeven.
Hari fights an aggressive style with pressure-based punching. He likes to throw all his strikes at full power, and although he is considered to be more of a brawler, through all that chaos he’s actually very technical when it comes to setting up his knockouts. He likes to use the “Dutch Hand Trap,” where he throws a punch just to peel away the defensive guard of his opponent to set up the brutal right hand.
Hari’s biggest weakness is himself. It’s why he has spent the last few years battling legal troubles and why he has been disqualified from fights he was on the verge of winning. He is a complete hot-head and totally undisciplined. All you have to do is frustrate the legendary fighter, then sit back and watch him unravel.
Verhoeven’s technical prowess has proved incredibly frustrating to even patient fighters. Plus, for a big-man, he has some of the best cardio and footwork in combat sports today. He might not be as powerful as Hari, but he carries a toolbox that is far more diverse.
The 27-year-old champ is very sound defensively and has a knack for cutting down his opponents with well-timed high-guard leg kicks. His in ring IQ is off the charts and he utilizes the classic 45-degree angle to perfection, enabling him to push his opponents to the corners where he likes to set up shop.
Although Verhoeven is 6’5, for him to win this fight he needs to keep the 6’6 Badr Hari at a distance and not get caught up in the brawling. He needs to use his quick footwork, jab, and leg kicks to set up the classic Dutch-style combinations of punches with powerful low kicks thrown in for good measure.
If the Badr Hari that fought Ismael Londt back in 2015 comes to this fight, it will be a long nine minutes for Hari. However, if the legendary heavyweight comes to the ring ready to fight the vintage style he’s known for, he could be too much for the young Verhoeven.
This to me looks like the passing of the torch with Verhoeven taking the fight via split decision. But this will be a big money maker for GLORY, so I don’t think it will be the last time we see these two square off.
Winner: Rico “The Prince of Kickboxing” Verhoeven via decision.
Feature image courtesy of GLORY Kickboxing