6 Athletes Who Would Make Great Boxers
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There are a number of professional athletes who are so gifted physically that they could probably play a sport besides the one they have chosen.
A very athletic football player might have the skills and desire to compete in basketball. A hockey player might have the swing to make it on the golf tour. A baseball player may have the hand-eye coordination to make it in tennis.
You get the point. However, for any of the athletes who make a living in the major North American pro sports to cross over and make the jump to boxing, you need something special. It's not just speed, athleticism or strength.
It's that intangible quality that allows a man to go into the ring and know his opponent is trying to knock him out and that brings out the best in him.
Clearly, we would not KNOW unless these athletes actually got in the ring, but we strongly believe these six athletes could make it in boxing.
Note: We are including current athletes and not retired stars like Lawrence Taylor or Herschel Walker.
WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
Steve Smith is not a big man at 5'9" and 185 pounds, but he is as tough as they come.
He backs down from nobody in the NFL. If you want to punch him in the mouth, he will welcome you to take your shot, so he can come back at you twice as hard.
Smith is absolutely fearless and has demonstrated it many times (see video). He comes through with courage and athleticism any time his number is called.
His athletic skills include speed, quickness, hand-eye coordination and strength. Add in courage and self-confidence and those are the ingredients you need to box.
The one negative that Smith would bring with him is his emotions. A good boxer is not going to get overly emotional in the ring. Smith takes everything personally. That can exhaust a boxer in a long bout.
DE Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears
The Klitschko brothers should thank the stars above that Julius Peppers chose football and not boxing.
Peppers is a relentless athlete who cannot be defeated in one-on-one battles in the NFL. He is 6'7" and 287 pounds and is, perhaps, the best combination of strength and conditioning in the NFL.
Peppers is concerned with discipline and preparation as he readies himself for each football season. He does not like to leave anything to chance. Those characteristics would serve him well in the boxing ring.
While we don't know how he would react to a solid punch to the jaw, we suspect that Peppers would wade through it and go about his business.
He is a powerfully strong man with overwhelming athletic ability.
D Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
He won the league's Norris Trophy as the best defenseman once and was a finalist one other time. He has been timed as having the hardest slap shot in the NHL, and he is also a sensational fighter.
Chara is too valuable to the Boston Bruins to fight regularly, but when he is so inclined, he can brutalize anyone he comes across. In the video above, he gave Chicago's David Koci a painful beating and cut him up badly.
Chara keeps himself in remarkable ,and he is familiar with combat sports since his father was a wrestler.
Chara would need to be schooled on the finer points of defense since he would be such a large target, but he can attack and throw hard punches.
RB Brandon Jacobs, San Francisco 49ers
Former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs could not get on the field for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 of the NFL season.
The Green Bay Packers were probably saying silent thank-you's to San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh for making such a decision.
Jacobs is one of the most explosive and powerful men in the NFL. In the clip above, Jacobs delivered an explosive hit to Chicago Bear middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, one of the toughest guys in the league. Urlacher ended up on the ground.
Jacobs is also very familiar with the Sweet Science. He had a 35-2 record as an amateur and is a fight manager in the offseason.
G Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Don't mess with Russell Westbrook.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard is the toughest guy in the NBA, pound-for-pound. At 6'3" and 187 pounds, Westbrook is not a big man in his league, but he backs down from no other player.
He is athletic, quick, has tremendously fast hands and is willing to compete hard every time he steps on the court.
He is built like a boxer and has a strong neck that might help him absorb a punch and keep on going without getting hurt.
Westbrook was engaged in a wrestling match for the ball with Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) in which he was on the ground and mugged to a degree. Westbrook wanted to get up and fight while World Peace wanted no part of the smaller man.
RW Shawn Thornton, Boston Bruins
In the hard-hitting world of the NHL, there are players who earn a spot on the roster largely because of their ability to fight.
Most teams have one or two players who can handle themselves with their fists.
The Boston Bruins have four or five. Shawn Thornton is probably the most skilled boxer among them. He trains in the offseason, and he has the form to go into the ring and square off with a pro fighter.
He is courageous, tough, possesses power in both hands and he can take a punch.
Isn't that what it's all about?