It’s the age old question, ‘What would happen if?’ Proceeded with a line of fantasy such for example ‘a bear fought a shark?’ or ‘Tyson faced Ali?’ pushing the realm of the imagination without a true answer being given in response, a line which is brought into context when talk turns to boxing Vs. MMA, both sides stubborn in believing they hold the answer.
They would, of course, be right to believe such a thing, especially in their chosen fields, an ongoing debate which will forever be argued amongst fraternities.
Over the years many athletes have tried to prove the theory, boxers such as Muhammad Ali, James Toney, Art Jimmerson, Ray Mercer and Holly Holm are just some names that have dipped their toe into the cage/octagon with varying degrees of success.
The biggest name of all, Muhammad Ali took part in the most bizarre encounter possibly ever staged, where in 1976 he accepted the challenge of Japan’s most notable pro wrestler Antonio Inoki. It was an exhibition, nothing more, Inoli for most of the bout lay on his back like a cheap prostitute whilst Ali moved around never throwing a punch until the seventh round of the snoozefest, an embarrassment to say the least but one which would act to lent its hand to the creation of MMA.
Nearly as embarrassing was James Toney’s attempt, lasting 15 seconds upright before Randy Couture wrestled him to the floor before the inevitable tap out followed by the three-division world champion.
Not nearly as notable, 1983 National Golden Gloves Middleweight champion Art Jimmerson’s inclusion at UFC 1 bore fruitless, far removed from the organisation which is now littered with rules. The earliest stages of the Ultimate Fighting Championship was a free for all, no weight class, everything goes. Jimmerson who strangely fought with one glove was matched with the eventual winner in one of the pioneers of BJJ, Royce Gracie who submitted him in under two minutes.
Not good reading for boxing fans if you’ve read to this point, although there are a couple of success stories, heavyweight Ray Mercer gave boxing a glimmer of hope in his knockout of former heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia,
Although the biggest success story lies with Holly Holm and her destruction of Rhonda Rousey.
Holly left boxing with a sparkling career record of 33-2 but quickly racked up an MMA resume of 9-0 before she was handed the golden egg of Rousey.
Rousey was Dana White’s poster girl, appearing in Hollywood box office hits such as the Expendables etc, she came into the contest a big betting favourite but wanting to show the watching world that she could outbox the boxer, Holm proved otherwise, jabbing, evading and eventually taking the crown from one of the organisations biggest names in a moral victory for boxing.
These are just a few that spring to mind of the crossing over of the two sports, for years there was the talk of Roy Jones Jr facing Anderson Silva which subsided before the punchline, what about Floyd Mayweather Vs. Conor McGregor?
Initially, I like many others thought it to be a joke, surely Conor wasn’t delusional enough to believe he could beat ‘Money’ but that’s just it, the contest isn’t just about upsetting the odds, more so a topping up of his net worth, a win-win situation for McGregor, if he wins he wins and if he loses he still wins with a nice cheque to soothe his bruised ego.
A situation not afforded to Floyd, a loss here would tarnish the reputation of boxing, Floyd now stands at the gate as the loud Irishman steps forward, boxing’s credibility lies with one of its pound 4 pound best, a loss here could further open the floodgates for all MMA fighters looking for a Payday or alternatively a one sided affair might serve as a deterrent for any future move.
I can but hope as I like to watch both disciplines, just not mixed favouring them staying far removed from one another.