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Badr Hari to Return to Action in May

After a year of inactivity, Badr Hari will make his return to action in the It's Showtime ring. With K-1 on a hiatus for the moment, and nothing planned or announced as of yet, It's Showtime has been reeling off the show announcements, with a tentative plan for ten or more shows within 2011. In May It's Showtime will make their way to Lyon, France, where Badr Hari will make his return to action against a to-be-decided opponent.

According to Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, Simon Rutz has gotten a verbal agreement for the bout and the opponent should be decided within the next two weeks.

"Badr makes his comeback in May," Rutz commented to De Telegraaf. "Hopefully Badr will be doing what he does best: fighting in the ring. He must show that he is among the best fighters in the world."

The fight that fans want to see the most would be against Hesdy Gerges, who is currently booked to fight on March 6th, taking on Daniel Ghita. At It's Showtime's christmas show at the Sands, they also announced that he would be defending his title, most likely at the ArenA show. With the ArenA show not happening, one can only speculate that they will try to assemble a rematch between the two a year later.

There are a plethora of match-ups involving Badr Hari that fans would love to see, including a rubber match against current K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, Alistair Overeem, but Overeem might be tied up in the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP and be unable to make a fight in May. Nod to Simon Raedts for diligently reading de Telegraaf and alerting us to the news.

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Feb 5: Andy Souwer In Action

ElDesaafioNew fight announcement here coming from Spain: on February 5, former K-1 MAX and Shootboxing S-Cup champion Andy Souwer will be in action.  Souwer, our #3 ranked middleweight fighter, will be facing Spanish fighter Abraham Roqueni in the main event of a show billed as El Desafio K-1 ("The Challenge" in English).  The fight is 3 X 3 minute rounds, K-1 rules, at 70kg.

It's good to see Souwer back in action here.  The normally busy Souwer had a relatively slow 2010, as he spent much of the year recovering from an eye injury, as well as searching for a new home after being ousted from K-1 MAX.  But Souwer has often spoken of his desire to fight frequently, so a busy schedule against various opponents suits him well.  Obviously, Souwer is the massive favorite here, but Roqueni may be game to make this an interesting fight.  Nicknamed "The Demon", Roqueni has been around for a few years, competing in Muay Thai and various other styles, and he holds a win over Jose Reis.  Check out the Highlight reel on Roqueni below - he's aggressive, and combines KO power with some devastating kicks, especially leg kicks.  If he pushes Souwer, this could be fun.  Souwer however always has the ability to take his opponents right out of their games, drawing them into a technical battle that they can't win, and there's a good chance we'll see that on Feb. 5.

The rest of the card includes a number of Spanish fighter, with a few fights of interest to international fight fans.  Germany's Dennis Schneidmiller faces Fran Palenzuela. Hafid El Boustati, who defeated Chahid Oulad El Hadj at this time last year, faces Manuel Hinojo.  And Oliver Tinda faces Younnes El Mhassani, the man rumored to be challenging Artem Levin in It's Showtime in March.

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It's Showtime Cancels May Amsterdam ArenA Show

Simon Rutz and Saduharu TanikawaThere is a sad state of affairs in the kickboxing world right now, mostly revolving around the turmoil happening within FEG. Sadly, there is some collateral damage when it comes to FEG's financial and organizational woes by the way of Netherlands kickboxing powerhouse It's Showtime. It's Showtime has for the past few years ran in the Amsterdam ArenA, a large-scale arena, hosting kickboxing's biggest non-K-1 event. There wasn't much word on the show for the past few months, but the assumption was always that it would happen, regardless of any outside forces, as It's Showtime has been expanding and putting on bigger and better shows.

According to Simon Rutz today, he has officially put the final nail in the coffin of the May ArenA show, and sadly it all rests on the shoulders of K-1. K-1 has partnered with It's Showtime in the annual ArenA show, exchanging talent, helping cover production costs and assembling the card in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The last two years it has been an It's Showtime exclusive, but in 2011 it was going to be a joint production between It's Showtime and K-1. It's Showtime held up their end of the bargain, but were simply waiting on K-1 to complete the matchmaking as per the agreement. Rutz explains his frustrations:

However, after months of asking questions by email, text messages, personally and by telephone we never got an answer from K-1 regarding the fight card. We had set a deadline for the fight card for January 11, because otherwise there would be too little time for us to organize everything before May 21.

It was January 18 when K-1 finally told me that it isn’t able to put the fight card together, because many fighters who have fought for K-1 still have to get their money, and K-1 can’t negotiate with fighters whom K-1 still owes money to. For a long time it’s not a secret anymore that K-1 is in bad financial problems and that it’s still the question whether they will survive this crisis. FEG (K-1) tries to do everything in its power to get out of this crisis but the negotiations with potential investors are stagnating for a year already.

Rutz goes on to talk about how his company, Black Label, that manages many of K-1's biggest stars, from Melvin Manhoef, Badr Hari, Giorgio Petrosyan, Gago Drago and Hesdy Gerges, has been patient and helped K-1 financially, they need to draw the line somewhere.

We from IT’S SHOWTIME have tried to help K-1 in every area the last couple of years and we have been very merciful regarding the payments of our fighters. The debts keep increasing in a very fast pace, though. According to FEG, everything will be alright but everything takes more time than they had expected and FEG asks us for more time regarding the payments of our fighters and the final fight card for the Amsterdam ArenA.

I find it admirable how Rutz does business and it is understandable that their patience has run out. Quite honestly, this is a case where East meets West and the West can't wait for the East to do business their way. Rutz is very realistic that if K-1 sorts out their financial problems and is open to working with It's Showtime on the joint card, that sometime in September or October would be for the best, while K-1 officials have told him to keep an open mind to the May deadline. It's Showtime manages many of its fighters and understands matchmaking must take place months in advance to ensure that the fighters are prepared for their fights as well as compensated.

There are six events booked so far, with It's Showtime looking to assemble at least ten cards this year, which is an astonishing amount of high-level kickboxing and leaves a smile on our faces. [source]

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Watch Sergei Kharitonov Training With Golden Glory

Sergei Kharitonov is one of the "dark horses" in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, as he takes on Andrei Arlovski in the first round, in a fight which very well could have happened in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 last year if Andrei Arlovski's nose didn't explode in training. Bas Boon's company, Fight Game, released some training footage of Sergei Kharitonov preparing for his Strikeforce fight on February 12th. Sergei looks great, and for all of those out there who have hated on Bas Boon in the past, understand just how involved Boon is in his fighters' training. Watch at the 3:09 mark where Boon himself steps into the ring and spars with an exhausted Kharitonov.

Bas Boon is a bad ass, he is the real deal and what I'd love to see in more fight managers. He understands because he is a fighter himself. Andrei Arlovski facing off with Sergei Kharitonov is one of the fights I'm looking forward to the most, I don't know about you. Onward, Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. [hat tip]

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