By Jeroen van der Zanden
09 Sep 2023 at 05:02
Badr Hari returns to the ring at GLORY on Saturday after almost a year. This is what is at stake for the 38-year-old kickboxing legend in Paris against the relatively unknown Brit James McSweeney.
“I’m seriously thinking about ending my career. I don’t think I’ll see you anymore. Thank you, I love you,” Hari said on October 8 last year, shortly after losing to Alistair Overeem. His career seemed over, but nothing could be further from the truth: less than a year later he is back.
Hari’s main goal against McSweeney: to polish his reputation at GLORY and finally achieve a victory. The Amsterdam Moroccan has played seven times for the kickboxing association since the end of 2016, but a victory was never achieved.
During his GLORY debut, Hari had to retire due to an injury against his rival Rico Verhoeven seven years ago. Three years later this happened again in a duel with the Dutch world champion. In between, Hari won against Hesdy Gerges, but that victory was taken away from him due to a positive doping test. In the subsequent games, Benjamin Adegbuyi and Arkadiusz Wrzosek also proved to be too strong.
A rematch against Wrzosek was abandoned after two rounds due to rioting, meaning Hari – despite having already gone to the ground once at that point – saw another chance for a long-awaited victory go up in smoke. In October last year he lost against Overeem, although he lost his victory due to a positive test.
Wie is James McSweeney?
With the relatively unknown James McSweeney, Badr Hari meets a seasoned martial artist. The 42-year-old Brit has years of experience in both kickboxing and MMA and is known for not shying away from anything. In 2021 he signed with GLORY. So far, he has played once on behalf of the kickboxing association: in October 2021, he lost by knockout to icon Gökhan Saki. McSweeney is assisted by, among others, Alistair Overeem, Badr Hari’s last opponent.
Figures James McSweeney: 46 wins (28 by knockout), 6 defeats
Badr Hari figures: 106 wins (92 by knockout), 17 defeats
Victory a stepping stone to third fight with Verhoeven?
With a victory over McSweeney, the chances of a third fight between Hari and Verhoeven may be greater again. Hari is currently number six in the GLORY rankings and will rise above McSweeney, who is four years older, with a win.
GLORY has already revived the rivalry between the two top fighters with the Videoland series House of GLORY. In that series, Hari and Verhoeven face each other as coaches of new kickboxing talent.
Verhoeven, who has recovered from a serious knee injury in recent months, will first face Tariq Osaro in the GelreDome in early November. He defends his world heavyweight title against the Dutch Nigerian for the umpteenth time.
In addition to prestige and a higher ranking, Hari is also fighting McSweeney for a ticket for the Grand Prix. The prestigious eight-man tournament, which has produced great champions in the past and which, to Hari’s delight, is back after years, will be held in December. A number of starting tickets have already been given away. The world title is not at stake at the Grand Prix; it is a separate championship.
The fight between Hari and McSweeney is the final event of GLORY 88 on Saturday, which takes place in the Dôme de Paris, near the center of Paris. They are expected to enter the ring late in the evening.
Top Ten GLORY Rankings
World Champion: Rico Verhoeven (Ned) Interim Champion: Tariq Osaro (Nig) 2. Antonio Plazibat (Kro) 3. Levi Rigters (Ned) 4. Nordine Mahieddine (Alg) 5. Sofian Laïdouni (Fra) 6. Badr Hari (Mar ) 7. Benjamin Rajabzadeh (Aze) 8. Nabol Khachab (Mar) 9. Uku Jürjendal (Est) 10. Benjamin Adegbuyi (Roe) Receive notifications of important developments in martial arts Stay informed with notifications