The official press conference for the GLORY: Collision 2 event featuring the long-awaited rematch between heavyweights Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari took place Thursday in Arnhem, Netherlands.
Over the course of roughly forty-five minutes, both fighters fielded questions from Dutch journalists, and also got in a few digs at each other.
The stakes are high for Hari in the 21 December five-round bout. The Dutch-Moroccan has a chance to simultaneously avenge one of the losses on his record, and show the public he deserves consideration as one of the best of his era. Knocking off a dominant champion like Verhoeven, who’s won 11 straight bouts since a 2015 loss in China to Andrey Gerasimchuk, would also silence critics who see him as an over-the-hill wasted talent only fighting for financial reasons.
During the press conference, Hari addressed a number of issues, including how legal woes affected his preparation for his first bout with Verhoeven. When Hari faced Verhoeven in December 2016, he was involved in ongoing criminal proceedings (Hari eventually served a brief prison sentence in 2017 for aggravated assault).
Verhoeven won their first bout by second-round TKO when Hari was unable to continue because of an arm injury.
The full video of the GLORY Collision 2 press conference is available on the Glory Kickboxing YouTube channel. Here are some quotes from Badr’s responses to reporters’ questions.
Q: It’s been three years since you first fought Rico. What has been the biggest difference since then? With you, and the fight itself?
Badr Hari: I don’t think there’s a really big difference. The only difference is I’m more prepared. I feel more fit. I’m stronger. I have a whole different mindset. And this time, I could focus myself 100 percent on this fight. I didn’t have any other things that I was battling except this fight that’s coming up. In the last fight, some other battles I had to fight, so I think this is the biggest difference that this fight is bringing.
Q: I was wondering how you look at Rico. Like him always being the good guy. You’re always portrayed as the bad guy. How do you see that? Do you think the sport needs that? A good guy versus a bad guy?
Badr: (Pauses and laughs)
I don’t see myself as a bad guy but this is what the media creates. I help them a little bit (laughs).
But of course I think in fighting sport this is what sells. And this is also everything you have in life. If you look at Batman, you need a Joker. And there is always a good thing and a bad thing going on.
So if he is good and I am bad, and it sells out the arenas, let me be bad.
Q: Do you like him as a guy? Could you ever be friends when you’re 50 and old?
Badr: Maybe after 21 December, but for now let’s keep it how it is.
Q: Badr, are you enjoying the tension?
Badr: Of course, I’m enjoying the tension (smiles). This is what you live for, you know? You live for this kind of fights. You live for the attention because the more the attention, it means you’re doing something right. Your’e doing something good.
Q: how many rounds do you need to finish the game?
Badr: I wish him good luck, but we won’t see four.
Q: After three years, this is the first opportunity to look each other in the eyes. When you look in each other’s eyes, what do you think about each other?
Badr: I’m going to tell you, listen. This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for three years. After the last fight, my arm was injured and the fight stopped. This is a hard way to lose a fight. Especially when a fight (is) as big as this one.
It’s not maybe the biggest opponent I’m gonna fight. But it’s maybe it’s one of the biggest fights in my career because I’m really looking for my legacy. I’m looking for eternal glory, not for just this win.
As a fight, it’s maybe the biggest of my career yet. So if you lose the last one…It was very hard for me to accept but I did and it took me three years to see him again. So before the fight like we all know, there were not a lot of people who know Rico. Then the Badr Hari wave come, he jumped on. He become famous. He did a lot of shows, he made some money. I’m happy for him, but three years later it’s gonna end. Because 21 December, I’m gonna show him, show the people his real level of fighting. It’s not that great. We can see the last opponents he fought. It was a joke.
Rico was asked about his statements on a podcast where he questioned Badr’s listed record of 106-13 (92 KOs). Verhoeven said he couldn’t find all the fights, and questioned whether Hari’s record was true. Rico reiterated Thursday he doubted Hari’s record, and Badr gave a response.
Badr: I don’t know. I heard it. I thought it was funny. This guy’s fighting. Let me say he’s fighting people in a time there is social media, there is YouTube. I don’t know
I remember when I was knocking people out, you didn’t have fucking YouTube. My parents-we didn’t have a camera. So you know, I have a lot of fights.
But let’s forget all the fights he couldn’t find. Let’s only see the fights he can find. I’ve knocked more people out in the fights that he can find then he fought all his fights together. So forget the knockouts you didn’t see, just look at the knockouts you can see and they’re more than all your fights together. So let’s keep it at that.
Q: I was wondering. On your Instagram, we can see you have been preparing for your fight, but at the same time we also kind of get a feel of your personal life. Like your daughters and your wife. I was wondering like how does your family influence your preparation for your fight?
Badr: In this hard business of fighting, I think that family is a very important thing. I think for a lot of fighters, you know? They make the punishment, they make the hard work, they make the tears, the sweat. They soften it up when you go home to your kids, your wife, your children. This is what keeps you motivated. Keeps you sharp and hungry. So for me, my children are one of my biggest motivations and my wife she’s amazing, and they all help me a lot to get here and especially to stay here. So this is what they mean to me.
Q: How did you experience that first round, Badr (the first round of their previous bout in December 2016)?
Badr: That first fight. I don’t care about that first round. The 21st everything will be different.
That fight is past. I don’t care whether I was better or not. The 21st of December everything will be different.
Q: Badr, you said it yourself and when I look at your Instagram, you’re looking stronger than ever. What is different in the preparation compared to the last time?
Badr: I think the most important thing whats different is my mindset. You know, a lot of people know three years ago I was battling a lot of judges. I saw a lot of courtrooms. I’ve seen some jail time. So like I told you, I had too many fights at the moment. Like everybody knows, if you’re a pro athlete, you need to be focused one hundred percent. Especially if you have fights this big. You cannot be ninety percent or ninety five. You have to be more than one hundred, and I wasn’t. Was that the reason that it happened? I don’t know. It happened, it happened. I forget about it. I look forward to the 21st.
So I think the most important thing is the mindset. I’m very focused. I’m training for almost one year. Day in, day out. I go to the gym every day. I run on the Moroccan mountains. I’m ready.
Q: Badr, what can we expect if you win?
Badr: Like I said, I just signed a six-fight contract at GLORY so I have six more fights coming up. This is one of six. So that’s what you can expect. A lot of knockouts.
Q: Is there going to be a title match (if Badr wins on 21 December)?
Badr: I think so. It should be like that. But I don’t know who has the title then, you know? For me, a title is not a person. For me, a title is a title. So, if Rico has it, or maybe in six months one year somebody else. I just want the title at the end. I just follow the gold. And If it’s in his hands, I’m coming to get it, so Collision 3. If somebody else, bring me somebody else.
Photo Credit: James Law/GLORY Sports International