May 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES -- Former light heavyweight and heavyweight boxing champion Michael Moorer loves the attitude Andrei Arlovski wants to change.

"I love his personality," said Moorer, ringside at Wild Card Gym after a session with the former UFC heavyweight champ. "Just like mine: don't give a (expletive)."

Moorer, a chief assistant to gym patriarch Freddie Roach, is training Arlovski for his boxing debut on June 27, and presumably, his fight with Brett Rogers on June 6 at Strikeforce in St. Louis.

Moorer loves MMA and watches it frequently. Training wise, he's as new to it as Roach, and can't speak for anything other than the pugilistic part of Arlovski's training. Anderson Silva wanted to bring him to Brazil to train, but he declined.

In Arlovski, he sees a young, talented fighter that can be molded. The downside of the attitude doesn't concern him, and anyway, he hasn't been around long enough to see its effects.

"That's just the way I was," he said. "You've gotta have a chip on your shoulder in boxing. You have to have arrogance. You gotta have a little disrespect. You gotta show that. How many nice guys you know make it?"

Arlovski arrived with a different plan. After a right hand crushed his dreams of toppling the dominant Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction "Day of Reckoning," he said he needed more discipline. He didn't follow the gameplan; he was reckless in attempting the flying knee that set up Emelianenko's punch. Roach wanted an immediate rematch.

Back in Chicago, Arlovski made a promise to his trainers -- no more complaining. He wanted Roach and Moorer to push him.

"My last training workout before my fight on Jan. 24, I was kind of sick, I was in a bad mood," said Arlovski. "I just messaged my friends and joked around. My trainer, John Kading, I never, ever, heard him raise his voice. He said, 'listen, what's your problem, man? Everybody came here for you and you're joking around. You didn't do what your trainers told you to do.'

"Here, for example, I wanted to jump rope for six minutes, and Michael told me, 'you have to do 20 minutes.' So it doesn't matter if I like it or not, I'm going to do 20 minutes."

The 41-year-old heavyweight is less drill instructor than patient tutor. He gives calm and deliberate instruction between rounds as Arlovski spars with one of the gym's boxers. Arlovski charges forward, throwing jab-cross combinations, bullying his partner around the ring. The boxer is far slower, and seems more concerned about Arlovski's defense than getting hit.

"I can still hit you!" he yells after taking a combination. "I can see that (expletive) coming!" after another.

At one point, Arlovski tires of the constant clinching and trips his partner to the floor, almost taking mount... He still likes to joke around.

"He's trying to MMA me!" the partner counters.

Afterwards, Moorer meets Arlovski in the ring, recaps the action, and sends him off to jump rope. His goal -- a goal they share -- is consistency.

"I want him to start hitting with power," said Moorer of his instructions. "I want his power to be displayed all the time. Not when he wants to do it. I want a jab to be powerful, like my jab was powerful."

The champion boxer is encouraged by what he's seen so far.

"He's very green," said Moorer. "But he's learning a lot. He's the type of guy that studies it. When I tell him to do something, he'll wonder why he's doing it. But then he goes home, he writes it down, and he practices it. He dreams about it. He's a guy who wants to do it -- that's always good."

Whether the skills are used for boxing or MMA is no matter -- Moorer says Arlovski will be more dangerous wherever he goes.

"He's going to be able to keep people at bay with his jab," said Moorer. "He can knock him out with a right hand, left hook, uppercut, whatever punch we work on. Most fights end up on the ground if you don't knock 'em out. But he has that under lock and key already.

"I'm just trying to remind him of the things he can do. The arsenal's going to be a lot different now."

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