Badr Hari (104-12, 90 KO’s) was, unsurprisingly, victorious in the main event of Global Fighting Championship 4 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Thursday night.
The Dutch-Moroccan former K-1 heavyweight champion had been due to face Patrice Quarteron (38-5-1, 32 KO’s) but midweek wrangling led to the French fighter being replaced by Arnold Oborotov (29-9-1, 17 KO’s) on just over 24 hours notice.
Oborotov, of Lithuania, rode a three-fight losing streak into the fight and also appeared to be giving up more weight than the official ‘tale of the tape’ suggested. He was reportedly giving up 55lbs (25kgs) but the official stats only had it at a few pounds.
From the opening bell it was clear he wasn’t a threat. Hari coasted; he could have taken Oborotov out at will, but was doing his best to give the attending fans more than ten seconds of ringtime.
Then, around the two-minute mark the hapless Oborotov threw his sole strike of the fight, a kick which fell short. That singular digression from frantic lateral movement was enough for Hari. He took it as a green light and stepped in with his trademark jab head/straight right to body combination.
Oborotov had been punched in the soul. He almost went out through the middle of the ring ropes as, with the impact of a small car crash, Hari’s right hand searched his spirit and found it weak.
Applause from the fans in attendance but a muted response from Hari and his coach Mike Passenier. Usually when Hari wins he and his longtime coach embrace joyously in the ring but in the aftermath of this cold-blooded execution they showed restraint.
There wasn’t a lot to take from the fight, aside from confirming that Hari hits really, really hard. We can say that his combinations looked crisp and he seemed to be in good form. Also that his killer instinct clearly remains intact, as if that were ever in doubt.
Quarteron’s removal from the fight was an odd affair. The process began when he released tape of a phone conversation between himself and Passenier in which he was offered money to pull out of the fight claiming injury.
He refused, instead using the opportunity to publicly defame Hari and call him “a bitch”. This was apparently too much for GFC; its promoter Amir Shafipour removed Quarteron from the card and announced he was doing so because GFC is “a family show” and Quarteron had risked bringing it into disrepute by using foul language and making the fight seem “personal”.
Opinion is very divided as to whether there’s any truth to that reasoning: Hari’s camp had previously made its own maneuvers in trying to get Quarteron out of the fight and Quarteron also released a video entitled “I have a better excuse”, in which he pretended to break his leg and said that was the reason for the pullout.
Regardless, Quarteron was out, sacrificial lamb Oborotov was in and duly got slaughtered as he was supposed to. The question now is where Hari goes next. GFC won’t stage a show until spring 2015. There are rumors that Russian organization Legend is planning a show in France for December, but nothing concrete is out there.
Personally I would love to see Hari in GLORY’s heavyweight ranks and I know I am not the only one. But that organization no doubt wonders what kind of a PR time bomb Hari might be, and there is also the question of whether his recent convictions in the Netherlands would make it hard for him to obtain a visa for the USA.
Hari is certainly a fighter with questions marks over him and a dubious off-field reputation. But he is also a singular talent who enjoys iconic status in the sport. He has never fought on the American mainland – his only fight on US soil was a 2008 venture to Hawaii – and it would be a shame if US fans didn’t get the chance to see him fight live at least once.
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