Antonio Plazibat and his uphill battle

Antonio Plazibat talks to Warrior Code about his upcoming title bid
Published on Jul 18, 2022, 8:47:50 PM

Antonio Plazibat has quickly become a household name in Dutch kickboxing. Signed with GLORY, he is currently enjoying a bit of summer time in Croatia but that doesn’t mean he is taking a day off: “I really don’t believe in that.”

He has his eyes set on the big prize and won’t rest until he clinches it. The big price is the heavyweight world title which has been in the possession of the Dutch king of kickboxing Rico Verhoeven. His gruelling training schedule should just give you an indication of his determination to have a shot at the title later in the year: twice a day, seven days a week. Plazibat trains under Mike Passenier from Mike’s Gym.

Plazibat putting in the work

Just going by his resume, it would seem obvious that Plazibat is the next fighter in line to challenge Verhoeven. He is on an impressive unbeaten run and ranked first. However, it may not be that straightforward.

Hit it

Verhoeven’s last fight dates back to October 2021 when he beat Jamal Ben Saddik but suffered a severe injury to his eye. It was obvious that the world champion would need time off to recover but fast forward 8 months, he hasn’t given any sign that he is looking to defend his title for a record 12th time. 

Instead, he has organised a private kickboxing/entertainment event called Hit It which will see a number of professional and celebrity fighters get into the ring. An opponent for Rico has yet to be announced but it sounds like he is prioritising this over the opportunity to defend his title yet again. 

Plazibat: “Honestly, he [Rico] can do whatever he wants, he is the long-time champion. He has a lot of credit and respect within GLORY and I am not surprised that they are giving him the freedom to do other things as well. For all I know, he is back next year and I will have my opportunity then.” 

Talking to Plazibat, you would almost feel that you have a Swiss or Norwegian diplomat across the table from you when you ask him for his thoughts should someone else get the chance to fight Rico Verhoeven first. However, It’s clear he is not going to let this chicken escape, the next title fight is his. One only has to tune into Plazibat’s Instagram account and you can tell the (hopeful) future champion loves taking a dig at Verhoeven.

Verhoeven and Plazibat best friends?
Don't think so...

The second challenge

So, on one hand Plazibat has a world champion who is clearly not rushing to defend his title yet again. On the other hand, Plazibat may have an even bigger curve ball to deal with.

Two industry old-timers Alistair Overeem and Badr Hari will face each other at GLORY COLLISSION 4 on October 8th in the Netherlands. Both fighters are clearly looking beyond their opponent as each has indicated that if they win the fight, they will challenge Verhoeven to his next title defence.

Whilst each fighter is, of course, perfectly entitled to think they are the next in line to challenge the world title, on paper it shouldn’t be the logical conclusion. Then again, the world of kickboxing doesn’t always make sense either.

Badr Hari is going into his next fight with four consecutive losses, while Alistair Overeem has only just gotten back into kickboxing after a number of years in MMA where he came up short in winning the title. 

The elephant in the room

Where it gets awkward is that it’s unclear what GLORY’s position is in all of this. One expects that the organisation will prioritise its young talent who have been working towards their opportunity to fight for the title ever since they started with kickboxing, the prime examples of this being Plazibat and Levi Rigters. Plazibat is currently ranked number 1 in the heavyweight category, has won 6 of his 7 matches and is currently on a 3 match winning streak. Rigters is going for his rescheduled match against Saddik in August.

The elephant in the room is money. Bard Hari and Alistair Overeem have been around for years and are an easy sell for GLORY to the public. Considering the amount of money the organisation would have lost during the pandemic, the priority is probably to look for the most lucrative bouts. 

Plazibat is very composed and is confident Rico will give him the fight he has been working towards for such a long time. 

“I am confident that I am first in line to fight Rico. If I don’t deserve it, I don’t know who would. I am not oblivious to the fact that Overeem and Hari are both big stars and both fighters are able to fill up a stadium but it’s my view that I should have first dibs after which they can do whatever they want.“

He continues: “It’s sports and sports are business and always about money, but I would hope that I am not overlooked. I have my CV in order, I have won my fights, am ranked first and should be next in line to fight for the title. The latest information I have received is that I am fighting him next so I am not worried that they won’t keep their word.”

Who's going to win at Glory COLLISION 4, Antonio Plazibat or Jamal Ben Saddik?

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