Boxing trainer Naazim Richardson has been in the corner of some for the biggest fights in the past few years. Through his work with men like Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins, he has established himself as an important player in boxing today.
Now, he's working with Badr Hari.
Former K-1 fighter Hari announced his retirement from kickboxing last month in order to pursue a boxing career with an accompanying move to the United States to train full time. Long time fans of Hari met the news with some skepticism - he's flirted with the idea of boxing for some time with no results. But now, in an interview with Fight Hype, Richardson takes time out of his training for the upcoming Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson fight to confirm that he has met with Hari, and that The Golden Boy is indeed serious about becoming a boxer.
Badr Hari is a good dude and so is his trainer Mike [Passenier]. You know, Badr Hari won me over, man. As soon as we met, he told me he wouldn't let me down and that he would make me proud. But that's not what won me over. What won me over is he said, "I don't want to be top 10. I want to be the f***ing best." He has the right mentality to do this s*** right here.
Richardson doesn't end there. He has a tremendous amount of praise for Hari, including the highest compliment you can give a fighter in today's boxing world: a comparison to Manny Pacquiao.
Bouie Fisher used to always tell me in the gym, "Watch that door and eventually the right kid is going to walk through it." I asked him what he meant by that and he said, "One day, a kid is going to walk through that door and do whatever you tell him to do and be able to adjust to anything that you want him to adjust to." I remember when me and Freddie Roach was working together and Freddie told me when Manny Pacquiao walked through the door at Wild Card Gym, he said to himself, "That's who I built this gym for."... Badr Hari could be that type of kid.
High praise indeed.
Finally, Richardson makes it clear that Hari has one target in mind: the Klitschkos.
If [the Klitschkos] want to stick around, we either gotta let them see Badr fight and say, "Hey man, it's time for us to move on," or do what Mike [Tyson] did to Larry [Holmes] and show them it's time for them to move on.
This kind of praise from Richardson is interesting to see, as is the very idea of Hari working with him full time. I see the veteran trainer as a good fit for Badr, as he shares some stylistic similarities to Badr's long-time kickboxing trainer Mike Passenier, and is the kind of truly dedicated boxing trainer that can help Badr make this a full-time transition.
While Hari obviously has a lot to prove and many questions to answer in the world of boxing, this has me even more interested in seeing just how this all turns out.