So our bud StillWill has made his return to the world of kickboxing videos and done so in not only a big way, but a huge way by working with Badr Hari and his team to bring to the world a documentary called "The Golden Boy" which will center around Badr Hari's life and career. The whole thing is due to be released soon but for now the first episode has been released and it's well worth the watch.
We draw nearer and nearer to May 14th's It's Showtime Lyon event, featuring Badr Hari's return bout. The question that we've been slowly answering over the past few weeks is why exactly should we be excited about the return of Badr Hari and where did he go?
Badr Hari had a disappointing 2008, and 2009 was primed to be the year that he finally won a K-1 World Grand Prix title, and as we looked at in our last installment, he made it to the finals again only to be stopped in short order by Semmy Schilt, the now four-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion. For Badr Hari, this was crushing, as he had worked all year at being "good" and focusing on fighting, finishing out the year at 5 - 1.
The question for 2010 was; now what? Badr Hari had shown self control, skill and power throughout 2010, but it still wasn't enough to get two wins over Semmy Schilt. He came so very, very close to being on top of the kickboxing world, but at the last minute choked. So now it looked like for Badr Hari he must go through another year's worth of trials to give it another shot. His year started off with a bout against solid up-and-comer Mourad Bouzidi for It's Showtime in Prague, Badr was looking for blood.
Bouzidi was able to hold on for the bell in the first round, but was clearly wobbled and ready to go down like a sack of bricks before the ref stepped in. The last combination of a left hook to the jaw and a right to the body was just missing the right hook follow up to put him down on the canvas. The second round starts with an all-out assault on Bouzidi, where a left finally puts him down. Bouzidi gets up only to get put back down a mere minute later by a barrage of lefts and rights. Bouzidi somehow staggers to his feet again to come back for more. Badr finally composes himself a bit and starts throwing more calculated shots until with 10 seconds left in the round he slips in a right uppercut that sends Bouzidi down for good.
What should be noted is the calm, controlled agression of Badr Hari that we saw in 2010 was gone, this Badr Hari was throwing wild flurries again and was being super agressive, caution-to-the-wind style.
What happens next led to his one year layoff, which we'll touch upon tomorrow.
The other evening on Dutch TV the GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven laid out a challenge at perennial bad boy Badr Hari for a fight. The two of them have been taking potshots at each other through social media for a while now. Without a doubt Rico Verhoeven is the top heavyweight in the world right now and the man to beat, while Badr Hari was at one time the man to beat but his legal problems and interesting choices in friends have led him to simply be a headline-snatching name in the news on occasion.
Video (in Dutch)
Badr Hari was quick to reply on Twitter with a "challenge accepted."
A photo posted by Rico Verhoeven (@ricoverhoeven) on
The question right now is simple, though; what does this actually mean. Fans are already excited at the prospect of these two goliaths clashing in the ring, but there are a lot of hurdles involved in making a fight. Kickboxing has not worked like boxing, historically. In boxing the way it works is that a fighter has a manager and a promoter, that promoter will set up the fights. Kickboxing has always worked in more of a pro wrestling model where there is a promotion and the fighters are contracted by the promotion and at their whim. Verhoeven is currently the GLORY Heavyweight Champion, but reports claim that Verhoeven is without a contract at the moment and in negotiations with the promotion for the future.
As for Badr? He's been holding out for a retirement fight, claiming to have one more fight left in him and that he's looking for potentially huge money. Badr has been fighting for whatever strange, upstart promoter wants to toss money into a pit and get to go on social media to bro out with Hari. Hell, he even fought for a warlord in his last fight. The big question is if the fight were to happen under Kadyrov in Akhmat if it would actually be a fair fight. I can't stress this enough, Kadyrov is an accused Russian war criminal with an incredibly checkered past. He's apparently stepping down this month, but he's an incredibly powerful figure in Russia. He's still running fight shows, though.
If I'm Rico Verhoeven I'm not going to Chechnya to fight Badr Hari. If I'm Badr Hari I'm probably never going to be able to fight in the Netherlands because of his legal history. Who promotes this fight? Who puts up the money for it? There are still far too many questions before anyone can begin to get excited about this.
Ah summer, with love in the air and celebrity gossip magazines there to take candid shots of them and repost them with scandalous headlines. That is your life if you are Kickboxing superstar Badr Hari and you find yourself involved with Dutch soccer legend Ruud Gullit's wife, Estelle Gullit, going as far as said wife leaving her superstar husband and taking up a serious relationship with you. This photo is courtesy of Marloes Coenen's twitter. As we wait to find out if Badr will be fighting for Glory or not, we are instead treated to photographs of him enjoying his life. Good for him.
Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef will make his way back into the ring on November 8th in Russia for LEGEND Fight Show, as on their second event he'll participate in a -93kg tournament. Our friend Adenane from Staredown.nl caught up with Manhoef to get his thoughts on the upcoming fights. Interestingly enough, Manhoef has not stepped into a Kickboxing ring since January of 2012, as he's mainly been fighting MMA fights in the meantime.
It will be a welcome return to Kickboxing for Manhoef, known as one of the hardest punchers around and an absolute knockout artist within both the sports of Kickboxing and MMA. Here is a look at the tournament lineup for November 8th.
Kickboxing Tournament -93 kg
Zabit "Mowgli" Samedov vs. Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef
Kickboxing Tournament -93 kg
Sahak "Hak" Parparyan vs. Pavel "Caiman" Zhuravlev
A part of me is beginning to feel like Badr Hari's personal life is like a bad episode of "As the World Turns" sometimes. Every day there are more and more complications for Badr, more news coming out about his alleged assaults or affairs and to say that his personal life is personal would be a stretch. The latest in the case of the beaten Dutch millionaire at the giant dance party is that Badr is turning the tables on the legal system.
Badr's lawyer has apparently lodged a complaint with the courts that he feels there is an open line of communication between the team handling Badr's case within the police department and Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf (The Guardian). He claims that the news outlet has too much inside information, that it clearly must be coming from the police and that it is illegal.
It has been over a year since Alexey Ignashov has stepped into a Kickboxing ring, and while we are all talking about who will join GLORY or who will join K-1, there is a lot less talk about Fight Code and promotions like SuperKombat. A name that has been brought up in the "where will they go" conversation is Alexey Ignashov, a fighter with a very troubled past who has been fighting part time in the past few years after having bouts with alcoholism.
In 2010 he was given another shot at glory in K-1, given a rematch with Badr Hari which he was nowhere near prepared for before being put into the mix of a qualifying tournament in Bucharest, Romania which he was on track to win before having to pull out of the final fight due to injury. It's Showtime brought him in to fight against Thomas Hron, and sadly things did not go well for Alexy. Ignashov actually fought for Fight Code last February, defeating Roman Kleibl by decision.
It looks like Ignashov will return to the Fight Code ring in May in Budapest, Hungary. Not much is known about this card so far outside of it happening on May 12th in Budapest and that not only is Ignashov appearing, but Vitali Ahkramenko should be as well.
UPDATE: Ali Cenik posted on his official Facebook that he will be fighting Alexey Ignashov.
The first LEGEND Fighting event was a bit of a mixed bag, but a success in many regards as it featured a solid 72kg Kickboxing tournament on top of the now infamous battle between Badr Hari and Zabit Samedov, where Samedov was able to do the impossible and toppled Badr Hari. It also appealed with the freakshow factor by putting Aleksander Elemianenko up against Bob Sapp, with the local hero making short work of the sham of a fighter known as Bob Sapp.
The second LEGEND Fighting event is scheduled for November now and is set to feature the rematch that is almost ten years in the making between Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic against Aleksander Emelianenko in Russia. This will be contested under MMA rules, where Emelianenko is more comfortable and where Cro Cop has not ventured since his release from the UFC in October, 2011, save for the IGF New Year's Even event against professional wrestler/former sumo Wakakirin Shinichi.
Here's hoping that they once again feature some bigger Kickboxing bouts on this card as well, as the last event turned out to be quite entertaining.
As a part of the K-1 Rising in Madrid broadcast this afternoon, K-1 finally announced the date of the K-1 World Grand Prix in Los Angeles: US Grand Prix show. We already learned about what arena they would be booking, but were not clear on the date. Now we have a date, finally, and that date is September 8th at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. There have been no names or fights announced yet for the event, but oddly enough, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was shown in the crowd a few times and the commentators dropped hints at Rampage Jackson moving to K-1 after his UFC contract was up. Chalk that one up to simply speculation for now, but it would not be a terrible idea to draw in fans.
In perhaps one of the more interesting developments for GLORY of late, Badr Hari will be in attendance at GLORY 31, as will Rico Verhoeven. Verhoeven will be there for Spike TV Netherlands, being an on-air personality for Spike TV in the Netherlands. Rumor has it that he'll be attempting to interview Badr Hari live on air as well, which would be immensely interesting.
This would serve as a great opportunity to announce Badr Hari vs. Rico Verhoeven, live from the Netherlands, but don't get your hopes up just yet. Until we've heard that the fight is official a ton of stuff could happen in the meantime.