Gokhan Saki and Badr Hari will meet this Saturday, January 28 at It's Showtime in a battle of two of kickboxing's finest in the heavyweight division. It's arguably the biggest fight that kickboxing has had since the 2009 K-1 World Grand Prix. When Hari and Saki meet on Saturday, it won't be the first time they've stared across the ring at each other.
The two met in the ring on October 10th of 2004 in Rotterdam at a 2 Hot 2 Handle event. Hari wasn't the monstrous, intimidating figure that he is now. Rather, he was a tall, lanky 19-year-old trying to break into the bigger stages of kickboxing, working his way up into K-1. It wasn't until 2005 in his second fight against Stefan Leko where he made his "real" K-1 debut by emphatically knocking out Stefan Leko with what is now known as the "Leko Buster."
Gokhan Saki at the time of this fight was physically the same as he is today, being a small, pudgy heavyweight. He wasn't the devastating combination fighter and one of the fastest heavyweights in the world like he is now. Saki's career didn't get quite off to the same start as Badr Hari's, as he had already been stopped four times prior to their first meeting and had faced much lesser competition than that of Hari. Hari was the one who seemed to have the bright future, already having faced the likes of Alexey Ignashov and having defeated Antoni Hardonk, Aziz Khattou and Errol Parris.
The fight only lasted two rounds. Both Hari and Saki showed glimpses of what they would become in the future. Hari, despite not a full on monster yet, had tremendous power in his strikes. Saki, who wasn't quite the speed demon, combination machine of today, had the punch-kick combinations that would develop into some of the best at heavyweight. The fight was somewhat sloppy, with both Hari and Saki tumbling to the canvas.
One of Saki's tumbles to the canvas was ruled a knockdown for Hari. Saki threw a kick but was hit with a punch at the same time, resulting in him falling to the ground. Badr seemed to have a bit of an edge after the "knockdown," and had a real edge on the scorecards with a 10-8 second round.
Read more and watch the video of the first fight between Badr Hari and Gokhan Saki after the break...