The news broke earlier today that Badr Hari would be hanging up his Kickboxing gloves to take up a pair of shiny new Boxing gloves and move his training and focus to the United States. To many this was a shock, but there have been signs of this move for a long time now. Originally Badr Hari was considering making a run for the Moroccan Olympic Boxing Team, but his stint in prison and legal troubles were enough to force him away from that idea.
In an interview with Michael Schiavello earlier this year, Badr Hari spoke about how he was a huge Boxing fan and followed the sport very closely, especially the Heavyweights. He couldn’t say the same for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, where he could not even recognize the bigger stars, or the sport of Kickboxing where he only followed where he needed to for upcoming fights. Then there was an interview in August with FightHype where he spoke out about some Heavyweight Boxing contenders like Chris Arreola and Tomasz Adamek was if he were ready to run right through them right now.
Badr Hari’s heart was set on being a Heavyweight Boxer and there was no one in the world who was going to stop him.
His announcement came from Kickboxing organization It’s Showtime, who also handle his management and will no doubt have a hand in his boxing career and caused a lot of stir throughout the internet. Some sites are proclaiming Badr’s move as a part of the mass exodus from Kickboxing to MMA while others are taking a look at Badr Hari’s kickboxing fights to determine that he will become a failure at another sport.
The truth is, the transition from Kickboxing to Boxing is not an easy one, nor is it one that we’ve seen happen with a great deal of success. There have been a few cross overs from Mixed Martial Arts such as Kimbo Slice and KJ Noons, but the sample size is far too small to come to any real conclusion. Boxing or Kickboxing into MMA is a much more logical move for many fighters as opposed to the other way around. Working in grappling and takedown defense into a striking discipline is a lot easier than transitioning from the more “loose” striking styles in MMA to the tighter striking of Kickboxing or Boxing.
The transition from Kickboxing to Boxing can be said to be similar, as Kickboxing or Muay Thai employee different stances and entirely different approaches to striking than Boxing does. In any sort of kick fighting, the stance needs to compensate for incoming kicks as well as throwing kicks or knee strikes. This means that the front leg is not rested upon as heavily to check a leg kick or to begin the momentum shift into throwing a kick with the back leg. This also means that footwork is vastly different as is foot speed, as it is more difficult to move quickly while staying poised in position to kick or check a kick. A Boxer has more ability to move and use his feet as a tool for movement, not for giving and receiving damage.
In Kickboxing this also means that your hands will be positioned differently when worried about incoming kicks to the mid section or head. Kickboxing can often times be a distance game as the reach of a fighters’ legs is vastly superior to that of their arms (in most cases). Blocking a kick to the midsection will often times involve catching the leg underneath the arm near the armpit or deflecting through movement. Compared to Boxing where there is a lot less range fighting and a lot more close fighting and technical hand work, Kickboxing defense can seem a bit odd and “open.” Kicks come in hard and fast while an opponent has distance and defenses need to take that into account and be switched when the fighters are in close. A Boxer keeps his hands lower than a Kickboxer in most cases, with their hands in tight to their body to help deflect body shots or head shots in a quick, efficient manner.
It is impossible to judge where Badr Hari will be when he steps into the Boxing ring, though. Without a doubt Badr Hari understands these differences and will need to take a lot of hard work, dedication and most importantly time to make sure he is ready for the rigors of professional boxing. A big question mark is Badr Hari’s chin, which has been tested and crushed on a few occasions, but good defense in many cases can make up for this. Badr Hari’s punching technique will need to be tightened up as will his defenses, but to judge these details from his Kickboxing work may be premature and crass at best.
Many should be reminded that Badr Hari has yet to even announce his Boxing debut and it could be quite a ways off. For now sit back and enjoy his last few fights within the realm of Kickboxing and remind yourself that retirements in combat sports don’t often stick, for the right amount of money it is fair to assume Badr Hari could step into a Kickboxing ring again.