The heavyweight showdown of 2012. The fight we need to see.
Ghita was once subordinate to Stefan Leko on Romanian event Local Kombat, fighting for the European version of the WKN title while the Croat-German who engaged in a memorable 1-1 duology with Hari, won its “world” version in the main-event. Those days seem very far behind, as Ghita is subordinate to no heavyweight on the planet – despite the order of billing last night, I would argue that he’s ahead of even the main-event victor, Badr Hari.
Elaborate, you say? I acquiesce. I have stated since 2010 that Ghita is the best heavyweight in the game right now. Granted, I soon changed my World Grand Prix prediction when it transpired that he’d torn his groin, correctly surmising that he’d be outboxed by Saki with his kicking game and mobility hampered, but there was never any doubt in my mind what a prospective Reem/Ghita bout would resemble – namely, that of Japan’s attack on the rest of Asia seventy years ago; defence penetrated time after time, telling blow after telling blow landing with pinpoint accuracy and deadly speed and power, and a quick succumbing to the irresistible force. Daniel Ghita, right now in heavyweight kickboxing, is that irresistible force.
Ghita is about as tough in the ring as Dan Quinn believes himself to be. His durability and skillset combine in a way that turns good or talented fighters into great ones. His Eubank/Prince Naseem-level mandible has taken full force blows from the likes of Gerges, Semmy and Saki and not even flinched. Indeed, against Gerges the first time (his second successive loss after Saki – controversial as it should really have gone to an extra round) he dropped his hands, and cold-eyed Gerges balefully as he allowed the big champion to hit him flush in his unprotected face. He barely seemed to register it. He smashed Gerges to the canvas with a pinpoint right hook in the rematch, and embarked upon what is now a 6-fight-win-streak. And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Hari, on the other hand, has been the Bad Boy of K-1 for years upon years. At the age of 27, he just competed in his 100th career fight, with an 89-11 ledger; impressive by any standards, but his in-rings exploits are rivalled in fame by his vicious antics. After smacking Peter Graham at the press conference (being subsequently knocked out in violent fashion), stomping on Remy Bonjasky’s head in the final of the World Grand Prix 2008, and losing his It’s Showtime title by disqualification due to football-kicking a downed Hesdy Gerges back in 2010, not to mention the stories of run ins with mobsters and shady connections, his reputation is well established as the bad boy, the firebrand, the loose cannon of the K-1 kickboxing world. But that cannot detract from his skills; his often wild boxing is nevertheless effective and powerful, and his kicks are fast and sharp for such a big man. While a glassjaw is something that certain sections of the fans have accused him of, there can be no doubt that he has great recuperative powers after being tagged; one only has to reference the Errol Zimmerman and second Ruslan Karaev fights as proof, as a heavily dropped Hari came back to faceplant his foes in devastating fashion.
But taking the sustained punishment of Ghita, while utterly failing to hurt the cast-iron constitution of the Romanian “Savage Samurai”, is a whole different ball game.
Personally, I don’t see Hari winning this one, and I haven’t done for some time, even before their respective performances at last night’s K-1: Rising event gave more credence to the notion. Badr has awesome speed and power, but with his tendency to brawl and ingrained killer instinct means it is likelier he goes into the trenches and gets hurt by Ghita as opposed to comfortably outpointing him with what is probably a significant advantage in speed. From Ghita’s perspective, Hari’s jaw will come into play, and unlike the likes of Zimmerman and Ruslan, he will be able to capitalise on it the way Semmy Schilt did in the World Grand Prix 2009. Ghita may not have Hari’s speed, but his timing is at times impeccable, and the hooks and kicks he consistently lands to the jaw are executed stunningly well. I could foresee Hari getting rocked and seeing red, before trying to drag Ghita into the trenches and being clinically, brutally picked off. But equally, Hari on his day is an absolute savage and a match for any man on the planet in a stand-up fight. So who knows?
Hopefully, time will tell, and may that time be sometime this year. This is a fight I’ve wanted to see for two years now, and with a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes reincarnated K-1, let this be the fight that the new company gives its fans, if only in penitent compensation for the abject misery that no World MAX or Grand Prix in 2011 left us fans in.
Here are two highlights of Ghita and Badr for those less acquainted with their careers. Knuckle up; this one should be a bumpy ride.
I cannot claim impartiality on this one, as not only does my girlfriend consider Hari to be the “second sexist man in the world”, but more that I was a huge fan prior to his stomping and kicking of Remy and Gerges. I still am to the extent that I greatly miss Hari when he’s not competing in K-1 (indeed, I’ve missed K-1 this past year like it was my own absent sex drive, or a deceased relative at least) but being a fully fledged Ghita admirer and fanboy, I’d be firmly in the Romanian’s corner for this one. Moreso; it is belief that inspired these opinions, not merely bias. Ghita looks unstoppable, and he has the real potential to be Badr’s kryptonite with his durability and sustained, powerful attacks delivered with accuracy and timing.
WWF coined the term for Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, “the unstoppable force meets the immovable object!” Well now it’s K-1′s turn to give us a heavyweight showdown for the ages, so let the irresistible force meet the irresistible force!
You can’t stop rock’n'roll, and you cant stop Daniel Ghita vs. Badr Hari either! It’s fate.
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