GLORY Kickboxing yesterday announced that Rico 'The King of Kickboxing' Verhoeven (50-10, 14 KO's) will face Ismael Lazaar (30-2-2, 15 KO's) at the upcoming GLORY 41 HOLLAND event in May. Lazaar fights at national championship level in Holland and it will the first time he and Verhoeven have met in the ring.
It's a big opportunity for Lazaar, who has competed with success on the national level in the Netherlands but has yet to receive his chance in the international leagues. Known for a long time as “The Tank”, his physique is atypical for a top-level fighter, but Verhoeven is not one to judge a book by its cover.
“He's definitely someone you have to watch out for. He is short and fat but looks can be deceiving, he is very explosive and he has really good punching power. You can see that just from his fights, he has KO'd a lot of bigger guys. Definitely you have to take him seriously,” he says.
“It will be the first time we have fought; there was some talk a while back, some of his team wanted to set something up but it never came through. Well, now he has his chance, so let's see what he can do with it.”
Verhoeven has dominated the heavyweight division ever since he won the belt at GLORY 17 LOS ANGELES. None of his opponents have looked close to dethroning him and he also looked in control during his two-round win over Badr Hari in December.
There's a long pause when Verhoeven is asked if he truly considers Lazaar to be in the same league.
“Who is in my league?” he says eventually, laughing but serious at the same time. “Who the f—k is there? We tried everyone. Nobody wanted this fight, guys were turning it down, guys who say they want to fight me but didn't want to take this opportunity when it came up. Ismael Lazaar stepped up.
“Jamal Ben Saddik was supposed to take a shot at me but apparently he fell off a motorcycle and wouldn't be able to fight. OK. A lot of these guys say they want to fight me but then when shit gets real, everything goes quiet. It's like they want to fight me until they get the offer and then it's a different story.
“Same in December. Badr said he was going to destroy me, this and that, he was going to stop me in the first round. Then after the first round I am still there in front of him, still chasing him, and suddenly something was up with his arm and we had to stop the fight.
“Now today Gokhan Saki has been all over social media calling me out, saying he wants a rematch. He put out a message saying that I am dodging him. I am not dodging you motherf—ker! You got offered this fight for May and you turned it down, you said you wanted to fight someone else first before you would fight me, so what the f—k are you talking about?
“He's been talking s—t for nothing. If he comes to fight me then great, let's go, but he got offered for May and he didn't want it. The only guy who wanted it was Ismael Lazaar, and it's going to be a good explosive fight. I am looking forward to showing my skills to my fans on home soil again, it's been a long time.”
GLORY 41 HOLLAND takes place Saturday, May 20 at the Brabtanthallen in Den Bosch, Holland. The card is headlined by a featherweight championship fight between Robin van Roosmalen and Petchpanomrung. Tickets are available now via this link.