Six Degrees of Tyson Fury: New champ’s sparring partners, Rico Verhoeven and Benjamin Adegbuyi, square off in GLORY 26 headliner
You can probably count on Tyson Fury to be tuned in to GLORY 26 Amsterdam on Friday night. That’s because both fighters in the event’s headliner are training partners of boxing’s newest heavyweight champion.
GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven is a close friend and training confidant of ‘The Gypsy Prince’ and, in a recent interview with Michael Stets, says he credits Fury for taking his game to a whole new level.
"We met and we went for our first sparring and it was crazy," recalled Verhoeven. "This guy is 6′ 9" and he closed both my eyes. I was wearing a head guard for like four rounds and I said, ‘I don’t see shit through this thing.’ I took it off and said, ‘let’s go.’ Both of my eyes were already closed with a head guard on. It was crazy. We were just training and you see the difference between boxing and in kickboxing. We just — especially in the beginning — we just walk straight forward.
"It was amazing," said Verhoeven, on training with Fury. "From that moment on, even though I got my ass kicked, I was like, ‘I need this. This is great for me.’ From that moment on we started working together and doing more sparring and was getting better and I was I getting hit a lot less and I was giving him a hard time as well and by doing that I gained so much respect from the Fury Team because everybody who they were sparring with quit after two or three rounds. They were like, ‘it’s not my thing man.’ He just knocked everybody out. Not with bad intention, he was just too good for everybody."
Verhoeven says he tuned in for Fury’s shocking upset over former heavyweight head honcho, Wladimir Klitschko, and was beyond thrilled to see the Brit take home the belt.
"No doubt," Verhoeven said. "He did it. He performed well and had a game plan well executed. It was perfect."
Interestingly enough, Verhoeven’s opponent in GLORY 26 Amsterdam’s headliner is Benjamin Adegbuyi, whom Verhoeven defeated at GLORY 22 back in June. Prior to GLORY 24, where Adegbuyi won a heavyweight contender tournament to qualify for his upcoming title shot, the Romanian spoke about training with Fury.
"Training with Fury was a good thing. Boxers are more slippery, they move a lot, always try to avoid punches. He was very hard to hit, so I think sparring with him has made my eyes better, made my reactions better," says Adegbuyi.
Adegbuyi found the training sessions to be quite helpful in improving the way he moves around the ring as well as bolstering his boxing skills.
"Kickboxers don’t move so much, which makes it easier for me than trying to hit someone like Tyson Fury. So I think it’s a good thing. It has improved my boxing and I think I will be able to hit these guys in the tournament even better than before."
Even though the two heavyweight kickboxers weren’t scheduled to fight each other when they were common sparring partners, Verhoeven recounted the oddity of picking up Adegbuyi just a few weeks after they fought in France.
"It was funny, because I think it was the first week that I came into camp there and the driver, he told me, he’s a friend of mine as well. He said, ‘tomorrow this other kickboxer comes. Benny something,’" Verhoeven recalled. "I said, ‘what? You gotta be kidding me.’ I said, ‘let me check the list.’ He gave me the list and I saw his name. I was like, ‘I fought this guy like two or three months ago. Are you serious?’ He said, ‘that will be fun because you guys are all in one house.’"
The friendship between the two will be put on hold Friday night at the RAI Convention Center in Amsterdam as the two colleagues anchor GLORY’s year-end show.