It’s only the second week of August, but GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven already commenced training camp for his 21 December showdown with Badr Hari in Arnhem, Netherlands.
The champion announced on social media this week he started training camp for the bout, which is a rematch of a 2016 contest won by Verhoeven via second-round TKO after Hari injured his arm and couldn’t continue.
Badr Putting in the Work
Badr Hari is also focusing on the fight, still over four months away. The Moroccan has been active on social media, posting photos of videos of himself training with new coach Said El Badaoui.
Hari will be returning from a 21-month layoff when he faces Rico, who will also have been out of the ring for over a year. Hari’s last bout was a decision win over Hesdy Gerges in March 2018, later changed to a no contest after he failed a post fight drug test.
High Stakes for Both Fighters
When you think of what’s at stake for both fighters, it’s no surprise both men are focusing diligently on their return engagement.
Verhoeven, as of today, is a contractual free agent. If he doesn’t sign a new contract prior to the Hari bout, he could walk away from GLORY and sign on with another fight promotion. It’s not a stretch to think Rico would command greater value on the free market if he defeats Hari impressively. He’s already well-known in Holland and becoming more familiar to an international audience. A solid win in the rematch can only increase his stature. Of course, he also has the motivation of having an opportunity to quiet the doubters who think his first win against Hari was tainted by the Moroccan’s injury.
While Verhoeven’s future with GLORY is up in the air, Hari signed a three-year contract with the organization that was announced in May. This contract may be Hari’s last major contract in the sport. He’s only 34, but he’s already a veteran of over 100 fights and competed for over 15 years in one of the most physically demanding of combat sports.
A Hari win jump-starts a career that has been plagued by periods of inactivity, some of which caused by his well-documented troubles with the law. He’ll be considered the top’s sport heavyweight if he wins, and would certainly gain some personal redemption.
An amazing natural talent who has beaten many top fighters, Hari never ascended to the status of superstar. He lost both times he advanced to a K-1 World GP final. In 2008, he was disqualified after an intentional foul versus Remy Bonjasky, and a year later Semmy Schilt stopped him in the first round. A Hari win could earn recognition as one of the sport’s greats alongside Dutch legends Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Ernesto Hoost, and Semmy Schilt.
Title or No Title?
GLORY still hasn’t made an announcement of whether the Rico-Badr rematch will be sanctioned as a fight for Verhoeven’s championship. The fight will be scheduled for the championship distance of five rounds.
You’d expect GLORY to upgrade the bout to title fight status sometime before the fighters step into the ring in December. Having the two fighters battle for the belt increases the bout’s importance in the eyes of the general public, and also serves as another talking point to publicize in the build up.
Regardless of whether the title is at stake, Verhoeven and Hari will both enter the ring with a lot on the line for both fighters. Personal honor, legacies, and future prospects will depend on what happens in the ring on 21 December.