A History of Boxers in MMA
Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing's pound-for-pound king, is scheduled to fight rising Mexican boxing champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas this Saturday. The bout, which has been officially deemed "The One," is being promoted as not only one of the biggest boxing fights in history, but also as one of the biggest fights ever.
However, according to many in the MMA community, boxing is not fighting, it is a sport. MMA, as several fans and journalists have written, is the true test of a man or woman's fighting ability, as it incorporates all combative styles.
And this stance, or "challenge" as perceived by some boxers, has been the catalyst for some strange and interesting moments in fight history.
Gene Lebell vs Milo Savage, 1963
In what many consider the first sanctioned MMA fight in history, "Judo" Gene Lebell fought Milo Savage, a top-ranked boxer, in Salt Lake City in December of 1963.
Lebell was catapulted upward in the fight community when he choked out Savage early in the fight.
Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki, 1976
In 1973, Muhammad Ali fought Antonio Inoki at the Nippon Budokan Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The fight, which was fought under special rules, was perceived as a publicity stunt by the public. For the most part the 15-round fight was uneventful, but the damage Ali received haunted him for the rest of his career.
Art Jimmerson vs Royce Gracie, 1993
Royce Gracie, who is widely considered the godfather of MMA, had his first UFC fight against Art Jimmerson, a Golden Gloves champion, in 1993. Jimmerson entered the cage with one taped hand and one gloved, in what has become a notorious outfit in MMA lore. The fight itself launched Gracie into the second round of the UFC 1 tournament and into MMA history.
Julius Francis vs Gary Turner, 2007
Julius Francis, a former British heavyweight boxing champ, announced at Cage Rage 23 he would make his MMA debut against Gary Turner. Francis made the claim he would transition from boxing to MMA comfortably, even easily, as he was already a self-proclaimed good kickboxer. However, Turner had other thoughts in mind.
Ray Mercer vs Tim Sylvia, 2009
Ray Mercer, former heavyweight boxing champion, made his leap into MMA on June 23, 2007 against Kimbo Slice, as part of Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5. The bout was a non-sanctioned exhibition under the New Jersey Unified MMA rules.
Slice won the fight in the first round with a guillotine choke submission.
Two years later, Mercer fought former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. The fight was short and displayed the true meaning of the statement "big trees fall hard" as Mercer knocked Sylvia out cold.
Randy Couture vs James Toney, 2010
UFC President Dana White announced former boxing heavyweight champion James Toney signed a multi-fight deal on March 3, 2010.
Several months later, Toney fought former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture at UFC 118.
The fight was a quick reminder why so many sports fans consider boxing and MMA to be different forms of competition.
Holly Holm vs vs Allanna Jones, 2013
Holly Holm, who is an 18-time world champion in three separate divisions, made her mixed martial arts debut in 2001. Most recently, Holm showed her MMA evolution with a vicious head-kick knockout.
Ricardo Mayorga vs. Rene 'Level' Martinez, 2013
Former boxing champion Ricardo Mayorga, who established one of the most polarizing attitudes in the fight community, originally attempted to make an MMA debut in 2010 against Din Thomas.
In 2013, Mayorga faced Wesley Tiffer on May 3, 2013. Mayorga landed an unrecognized illegal knee in Round 3, resulting in a technical knockout. However, the decision was later was overturned to a no contest.
Two months later, Mayorga fought Rene Martinez. The ending was very different.