It has already been called the fight of the century. The fans have screamed for it for years now, and hype or not, it’s difficult to deny the significance of the upcoming show-down between Badr ‘Bad Boy’ Hari and Rico ‘Prince of Kickboxing’ Verhoeven.
It’s old versus new, aggression versus style, and perhaps most telling: Dutch versus Dutch. Well, Dutch-based vs. Dutch since Badr fights under the Moroccan flag, but it’s impressive that the two people considered respectively the old and new king of kickboxing worldwide live and train in the same country. The Dutch have dominated kickboxing for a long time: out of the nineteen K-1 Tournaments held between 1993 and 2012, no less than fifteen were won by a Dutch fighter.
That’s the past, and some say that the glory-days of the likes of Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Remy Bonjasky, and Semmy Schilt are over. With these and other legends either retired or aging, the question is raised who will be part of the next generation of kickboxing heroes.
Rico & Badr
Enter Verhoeven. His rise to fame in the kickboxing world culminated in him winning the Glory Heavyweight Championship in 2013, when he defeated his Romanian opponent Daniel Ghiță. Rico has succesfully defended his title five times since.
His opponent is none other than the controversial Badr Hari. In his impressive kickboxing record spanning 118 matches, Badr won 106 times (94 by knock-out), while losing 12 times. Two of those losses were due to disqualification, both times for kicking a downed opponent. One of these was a particularly bad display of unsportsmanship against Remy ‘The Flying Gentleman’ Bonjasky in 2008.
Technically speaking, the only person who Badr Hari has lost to more than once is Badr Hari himself. Which brings us to the next point.
Public opinion seems to be mostly in favor of Badr, though no one can discount the fact that it would be a hard-earned victory. In terms of physical fitness, Rico seems to have the upper hand. Five years younger than Badr and with a body seemingly chiseled out of marble, he is in his physical prime while having enough experience to put all those muscles to good use. As already mentioned, Badr’s record is almost unmatched in kickboxing history. His greatest strength and greatest weakness, however, is the fact that he’s a very emotional fighter. Drawing strength from his aggression, Badr is also prone to lose himself in anger. Rico on the other hand, knows how to keep it cool at a level that is almost beyond human. Just as an example, look at how focused and unmoved he appears while repeatedly beating Anderson Silva to the ground in his last fight.
All in all, it’s difficult to predict who will walk away as the winner next Saturday. Or if walking will even be an available option after the fight is over. One prediction can be safely made though: it’s going to be one hell of a fight, the winner will be the undisputed king of kickboxing, and people will talk about this for years to come.