Arlovski: Emelianenko’s Buster Douglas?

Jan 14, 2009
World-renowned boxing coach Freddie Roach believes Andrei Arlovski won’t be afraid to face the most feared heavyweight on the planet on Jan. 24 because anything that can happen to his Belarusian charge has already been thrown his way in training.

Arlovski (15-5), who’s trained with the pugilistic great for his last five fights since 2006, meets Fedor Emelianenko (28-1, 1 NC) in the main event for Affliction “Day of Reckoning” at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

"We're having a great training camp,” Roach said in a teleconference call on Wednesday. “Andrei's in good shape for the fight, sparring with all my fighters. Andrei's looking for a big 'W' on the 24th. We're not coming intimidated by Fedor.”

Intimidation has been one of Emelianenko’s greatest weapons. The 31-year-old world sambo champion has not lost an MMA bout since August 2004, if you include his no contest outcome to former Pride and UFC champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira after the pair accidentally butted heads. Before that, the stoic Russian’s only other blemish was to Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, from a cut Emelianenko sustained in the bout’s first 17 seconds. The world has forgotten what it looks like when Fedor Emelianenko loses, but Arlovski and his camp want to help remind everyone.

Sparring partners have been none other than UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva, as well as an unnamed Mexican fighter with a 90-5 record ranked No. 2 in the amateur standings, according to Roach. Though much attention has been brought to Arlovski’s workouts with Roach, the fighter’s regimen has been all-inclusive, consisting of two-a-days for three-hour periods. After four hours rest, the former UFC champion leaves Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., for the wrestling mats to hone his wrestling, jiu-jitsu and conditioning with NCAA Div. I coaches Sean Bormet and John Kading, black belt Dino Costeas, and his Chicago boxing instructor Michael Garcia.

"I'm almost ten days from [the biggest] fight for my career and I'm very excited,” Arlovski said. “I can't wait."

Roach is impressed with his fighter’s progress. Selection of punches and, most of all, footwork are marked improvements. Arlovski put both on display in his Affliction debut last July, where he stopped Ben Rothwell with a barrage of strikes in the third round.

Arlovski, 29, sees his opponent’s mystique much like Mike Tyson’s prior to him losing to James “Buster” Douglas. Arlovski wants to be the one to dethrone Emelianenko.

"That's why Andrei feels he has his chance right now and that he can beat him,” said Affliction Vice-President Tom Atencio during Wednesday’s call. “So it's not [Emelianenko’s] intimidation factor as in coming out and intimidating somebody, it’s the fact that his record and he's beaten a lot of people out there."

The Belarusian refused to look past Emelianenko and comment on whether or not he would make the boxing ring his next fight venture. Roach, however, offered his take on the situation.

"His boxing isn't quite ready," said the hands-on trainer. “I mean he can be a contender as a boxer I feel," pointing to Arlovski’s ability to hang with other pros in sparring. But like Arlovski, it’s obvious the mindset is one fight at a time.

Roach has seen so much videotape on Emelianenko he’s almost sick of it.

"I've watched what [Emelianenko] can do. He's a good puncher, I'm not saying that he's not, he punches very well, but his boxing skills -- his footwork is not that good,” said Roach. “I think that's really going to be the advantage of the fight."

Arlovski respects Emelianenko, but sees the fight as a simple equation.

"He will step in the ring to beat me and I will step in the ring to beat him or knock him out and take his belt."

Atencio expects many in attendance when the two heavyweights clash. He stated the Honda Center has just opened up more seats for purchase. Arlovski, the No. 2 ranked heavyweight on Sherdog.com (only behind Emelianenko) knows this will be a defining fight. It’s a great opportunity, he says, and a big stride to be the best fighter in the world.

"Like I said, he's number one,” said Arlovski through his thick accent. “He's number one until January 24.”
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