Andre Hall is counting down the days.
After four scheduled bouts fell through since July 2019, Hall [4-1] is set to headline Art of War 16 on Friday, Feb. 7. The Wisconsin native is taking on the promotion’s current middleweight champion Andre Petroski [4-0] at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Finding fights is an ongoing issue for Hall. The Wisconsin native fought for a different promotion in every one of his professional bouts. He is eager to fight an undefeated prospect in Petroski after spending 28 weeks outside of the cage.
“I have all the respect for him [Petroksi],” Hall said about his opponent accepting the bout. “I couldn’t find fights for the life of me, nor could my manager.
“Everyone is trying to secure wins, get on Contender Series to show Dana White their skill set, therefore, they don’t want to take tough fights.”
Been there before
Fighting Petroski in his backyard is nothing new for Hall.
Hall’s amateur career got off to a perfect 6-0 start. The middleweight eyed a move to the professional level, but thought he needed a test before making it official.
Hall messaged Eryk Anders, who is currently a nine-fight UFC veteran with a 13-4 record. Anders is riding a two-fight wins streak with a split decision against Gerald Meerschaert and a first-round knockout over Vinicius Moreira Castro.
At the time, Anders was 10-2 and unbeaten in his last five amateur bouts.
“I started looking for the best guy, he [Anders] was the best guy,” Hall said. “I personally messaged him ‘Hey, you’re tough, I’m tough, let’s fight, I want to see if I have it in me,'” Hall said. “‘You’re getting looked at by all these people and I want to fight you.’”
The proving ground
The two agreed to fight and Hall handed Anders a unanimous decision loss in his home state of Alabama on Aug. 17, 2013. He recalls Anders being much faster than expected.
Hall said it looks like he took a shot on Anders, but in reality, he fell into his opponent after Anders landed a hook. Hall won two more fights at the amateur level before deciding to turn professional.
Anders never lost another bout till over five years after he lost to Hall. Anders was in his third UFC fight after making his octagon debut on July 22, 2017.
“It was one of the tougher fights I have had, but it let me know ‘Hey, I got it,’” Hall said. “Then when Eryk got into the UFC, that even cemented it more into my head, I just beat a guy in the UFC now, so I have the potential to be in the UFC.”
Hall finds himself in somewhat of a similar situation with Petroski. The Art of War champion finished all four of his previous opponents, with only one fight going past the first round.
Petroski recently took a step up in competition against Shedrick Goodridge, who came into the bout with 18 professional fights. Petroski’s previous three opponents had a total of 11 fights before fighting him.
Petroski defeated Goodridge with second-round TKO at the Art of War 15 on Dec. 13, 2019.
“I believe Eryk Anders as an amateur was better than Andre Petroski is as a pro currently, I’m going to go out there and prove it,” Hall said. “I didn’t finish Eryk, but I believe I can finish Andre.”
Petroski’s combination of wrestling and ground and pound has served him well up to this point. Petroski was a three-time medalist and finalist at the Pennsylvania State Championships while at Springfield High School. He also was a three-time medalist at the Beast of the East.
Petroski went on to wrestle at the University of North Carolina, but transferred to Bloomsburg University before going to Kutztown University. While at Kutztown, Petroski qualified for the NCAA National Championships and finished third on the team in wins with 23.
Hall never wrestled at the collegiate level, but ranked No. 10 in Wisconsin as a senior at Wausau East High School. He qualified for the Wisconsin state tournament in the same year.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was a kid in Wisconsin, not down South either, I’ve been up there with the big farm boys from when I was nine years old to the time I graduated high school,” Hall said. “I’ve spent more time in the cage than he has and I’ve fought tougher opponents than he has.”
Taking the next step
Hall wants what Anders has. He is hopeful a win over Petroski could give him a chance on Dana White’s Contender Series.
Hall is building his resume, riding a three-fight win streak with all finishes. He just wants more eyes on him.
“A win over him [Petroski], whoever is looking at Andre, they will start looking at me,” Hall said. “I’m not sure what it will do for my career, but I know looking back, if I do make it to the contender or something like that, they will see my resume and be like ‘OK, this is a great job applicant.’”