Pictured: Badr Hari
The first major kickboxing event of 2012, It's Showtime in Leeuwarden, went down yesterday (Sat., Jan. 28, 2012), and it delivered in spades.
After years of enthralling audiences with his devastating power inside the ring and questionable antics outside of it, Moroccan "Bad Boy," Badr Hari, announced his intention to retire from kickboxing in order to pursue a career in professional boxing. For his final bout, he took on fearsome Turk Gokhan Saki, intending to leave on as high and exciting a note as he could.
After a tentative start that saw Saki seemingly take Hari down into side control, the former split Saki's guard with an enormous right uppercut, sending him to the canvas. Incredibly, "The Rebel" got back to his feet, but was sent immediately back down by a glancing blow. Though he rose again, a third uppercut sealed the deal, giving Badr Hari a devastating knockout victory in his farewell fight.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.In the co-main event, hard-hitting giants Daniel Ghita and Hesdy Gerges squared off for Gerges's heavyweight title in a rematch of their spectacular clash in March 2011. Gerges claimed victory the first time around in an incredibly close affair that saw Ghita drop his hands and give the hard-punching Gerges several free shots to his jaw, laughing them off.
He'll be laughing even harder this time.
While Ghita is renowned for his bone-crushing leg kicks, it was his punching power that carried the day this time around. He very nearly dropped Gerges in the early going with a left hook, and late in the first round, landed that punch once again in even more devastating fashion. Gerges went down in a heap, limp on impact and the recipient of one of the most brutal knockouts in recent memory.
Welcome to the highlight reel, Hesdy. Sorry it couldn't have been under better circumstances.
It's Showtime 70kg "Fast and Furious" tournament champion Robin van Roosmalen was also in action, taking on crafty veteran Murat Direkci. The two put on a fantastic show, the careful rangefinding kicks of Direkci keeping him out of range of Roosmalen's colossal punches and Roosmalen bullying his way inside with big flurries. In the end, after a razor-close battle, Roosmalen walked away with a majority decision and Murat announced his retirement. He may not have gotten the win, but he certainly went out on a high note.
Golden Glory banger Errol Zimmerman took on young upstart Rico Verhoeven, who had recently defeated Hesdy Gerges by decision. Unfortunately for Rico, his luck apparently ran out after that effort, and after standing directly in front of the hard-hitting "Bonecrusher" for just a few seconds two long, ate a brutal combo in the middle of the first, capped off with a left hook that left him limp on the canvas.
Move your head or they'll move it for you, Rico.
High-flying Chris Ngimbi took on the crafty boxing of Murat Direkci in the second fight of the event, looking to land one of his patented long-range flying knees.
No such luck.
Direkci's punching prowess proved too much for Ngimbi, as Murat bullied him all across the ring for the better part of two rounds, never giving him the range necessary to get his offense going. Eventually, a heavy standing knee from Direkci split Ngimbi's guard, opening a nasty cut above the latter's right eye and prompting the doctor to stop it. An excellent performance from Direkci and an underwhelming one from the normally high-octane Ngimbi.
The main card began with a clash between Michael Duut and Anderson "Braddock" Silva (no relation to the UFC middleweight champion). The bout was mostly one-way traffic, with the boxing and defense of Silva proving too much for Duut, who was dropped in the second round and repeatedly found himself on the wrong end of a powerful counter left hook.
He ain't "The Spider," but he's no slouch.
Overall, the event was fantastic from start to finish, with several back-and-forth slugfests and some enormous knockouts. For play-by-play and quick results from the stacked undercard click here.