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PONDERING THE PITBULL

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After some quiet time, local heavyweight Andrei Arlovski sneaks back into the fight world’s consciousness.  He took time off from the cage/ring to act in the direct to DVD film “Universal Soldier: Regeneration” and tape an appearance on MTV’s “Bully Beatdown.” Now Andrei is looking for some “regeneration” in the fight game.

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The Pitbull is looking to bounce back after suffering two devastating knockout losses by taking on local heavyweight boxer Fres Oquendo in a charity exhibition match on February 27 at the Fountainbleau Miami Beach Hotel and Resort in Miami. Fres is an MMA fan and has coached boxing at area MMA gyms including Xtreme Couture and Flo MMA. 

Andrei’s movie role and latest fighting foray have me asking a couple questions.

1. Why couldn’t this exhibition with Fres be done locally here in Chicago?  Admittedly I don’t know much about the charity benefiting from this event (The Consequences Charity) but I do know both guys are well known within the local boxing/MMA community here in Chicago. It’s a shame this isn’t taking place in Chicago.

2. Which sport is Andrei looking to do, and where is his focus? Arlovski reportedly has a contract with Oscar De La Hoya’s promotion company Golden Boy Promotions but he’s going to fight MMA after the exhibition with Oquendo. Andrei’s big boxing debut keeps getting pushed back, and his standing in MMA has suffered as other people have stepped up during his absence from the cage. 

3. How big of a draw in Arlovski right now? I know there’s little buzz from the boxing world when waiting for the Russian’s pro debut. In MMA he remains a free agent and it would appear that his old bosses at Zuffa (owner of the UFC) have little interest in re-signing the native of Belarus.  

4. Does he have the tools to make a successful return to the top? Before he suffered losses to Brett Rogers and Fedor Emelianenko fans questioned Arlovski’s chin. It seems a lot of doubt is raised when discussing the former UFC champion’s potential to contend for a world title in boxing. I think Andrei’s chin has spoken for itself, and the real question is his mental strength. We’ve only seen flashes of the “old” Andrei Arlovski after his losses to Tim Sylvia in 2006. Perhaps it’s a telling sign about his confidence that we don’t see something more concrete on his calendar. The question only comes up because his mental toughness has been questioned before.

I might be looking into things too deeply here and this whole thing is much ado about nothing.  Andrei very well could have some big things in the works and an announcement is coming soon.  But the more I hear nothing concrete, the more I question the relevance of Arlovski in both boxing and/or mixed martial arts.

L.J. Tabano is co-producer of Chicago’s MMA

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