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Aerts: “This retirement match with Rico will be my hardest fight”

Fight fans never thought the day would come, but soon it will be upon us: Peter Aerts (103-30-1, 78 KO’s) is preparing to hang up his gloves on December 21.

The living legend will fight the final kickboxing match of his career at GLORY 13 TOKYO when he faces Rico ‘The Prince’ Verhoeven (42-9, 10 KO’s), winner of the recent GLORY Heavyweight Championship Tournament in Chicago, USA.

Aerts’ professional record begins with a 1998 fight in the Netherlands and goes on to encompass more than two decades at the top level.

The greatest moments of his career took place in Japan, where he won three K-1 World Grand Prix tournaments in front of huge, adoring crowds.

“I always wanted to make my retirement fight in front of Japanese fans. So this is the best time to draw the curtain over my long fighting career,” says Aerts, who at 43 is still going strong.

Most recently he defeated Jamal Ben Saddik (24-4, 20 KO’s)via three knockdowns at GLORY 8, which also took place in Tokyo. Prior to that, he was forced to exit the GLORY 4 GRAND SLAMtournament with a broken hand.

“I don’t care about the injuries and my age so much. My right fist had bone fractures three times. I had some operations but I still good and I have no problems fighting,” he says.

“Am I physically declining? No, no, I’m still young enough. You can see that just by looking at me,” he laughs. “But there’s always a time for quitting things and that time is now I believe.

“I want to say thank you to my Japanese fans from the bottom of my heart, for supporting me for such a long time. And I promise from the bottom of my heart that my last fight for them will be a real fight.

“There’s no question this great retirement match on December 21 could be the toughest fight I’ve ever had. GLORY is serious about raising up young fighters – they brought me Rico Verhoeven, the heavyweight tournament champion as my opponent.

“Normally if you say ‘retirement match’ it’s an easy fight, right? But I don’t mind and I am not intending to lose the match. I would tell Verhoeven, ‘Listen, it’s not an easy job to knock me down.’

“Japan made me a big star so I want to return something to Japan, to say thank you. This fight is going to be my final bow to the Japanese fans.

“This is really the last one. Japan raised me up, so I want to finish my fighter’s life there. I want to say thank you and goodbye. I will do my best for a grand finale. Gam-bari-masu!”

GLORY 13 TOKYO takes place Saturday December 21 in Tokyo, Japan and airs LIVE on SPIKE TV in the USA and on BT Sport in the UK.

The event features a four-man welterweight tournament and the Japanese retirement match of Remy Bonjasky, who faces Brazil’s Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva in a repeat of their close GLORY 2 BRUSSELS encounter.