Just over 24 hours away from Saturday night’s GLORY 51 ROTTERDAM event, main event fighters Badr Hari (106-13, 92 KO’s) and Hesdy Gerges (50-19-1, 23 KO’s) are waiting to finally settle the questions arising from their 2010 encounter.
Their first fight ended in a disqualification loss for Hari after he knocked Gerges down in the second round and then kicked him in the face while he was grounded. Fans have been interested in seeing a rematch ever since, but it never came together.
Saturday night’s fight will settle some unfinished business between them. But nearly eight years on, are we likely to see a repeat of the same controversial scenes which ended the first fight? Hari thinks it is unlikely - but also admits that with him, you never know.
“I don't think I changed I just developed. I am smart now. I have been the bad guy for a long time now so maybe its time to switch the style up… or maybe not. It depends with me. Sometimes I am good sometimes not. It depends how I wake up in the morning,” he says.
“[But] I’ve missed this: Interviews, events, the fans, the venues, the build-up. The whole process. …Training hard, training a lot, sparring, beating guys up in the gym. I’ve missed that all.
“I want to win fans again, I want to have more fans. I want to be the people’s champ. I want people to recognize, I want people to believe and see that I am the best. That’s my motivation now, making people happy!”
Temperament is not the only thing that has changed with Hari. For this fight with Gerges he is noticeably leaner than in his December 2016 fight with Rico Verhoeven, for which he had bulked up considerably.
“Yeah I was too slow, I felt it in my training [at the time] but I was like OK, let’s see how it works out. But it didn’t fit me, it wasn’t functional. So we went back [to the gym], changed the strength and conditioning coach,” he reveals.
The new coach told Hari that he had to drop some weight, highlighting the fact that his best form had always been when “you were fast, explosive and you moved easy”.
Hari was advised to “stop hitting the heavy metal” in the weights room and get back to the kind of training which had previously made him into one of the best heavyweights of all time.
“[My coach Mike Passenier] was like ‘Look, you have to start fighting again! When you came to the gym [before the Rico fight] you were only bulking up, you didn’t box, you didn’t kick, you were only [concerned with] how you looked!
“So we made some change in the training schedule and that made me who I am now. I am still a heavyweight though.”
Hari says the leaner form makes him more dangerous. “I hit harder now, because I’m faster, more precise, the body does what the mind wants.”
As yet, Hari’s mind is undecided about what it wants on Saturday night. He’s leaning towards wanting a win by knockout, but he is also thinking about a lesson he learned from the boxing world.
“Sometimes beating somebody up is more cruel than knocking somebody out. I think Max Kellerman said it about Miguel Cotto, ‘This guy doesn’t beat you, he beats you up.’
“And that’s what happened in the second fight between Cotto and Margarito, he beat him up and it was worse than knocking him out… If he had knocked him out it wouldn’t have been the same satisfaction [for him].
“So I think Saturday, I will be beating somebody up.”
GLORY 51 ROTTERDAM takes place this Saturday, March 3, at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands.