With the announcement of “Lights Out” James Toney signing with the UFC to presumably fight in June or July, and the soon to be Ricardo Mayorga Shine Fights debut, the world of MMA seems to be in a state of Boxing vs. MMA discussion.
While many will claim (and rightfully so) that the best of James Toney ended, oh...eight years ago, many more will look at the name cache he brings and look to the glory years for indications on his future in the UFC.
While I could write a long winded op-ed scolding you all using fine examples like Ray Mercer's run in K-1 and amateur MMA as testaments to the level of difficulty facing these fine gentlemen in a new sport. Instead I've decided (with the help of my esteemed colleague Brian Oswald) to craft some Boxing vs. MMA matchups that could be both competitive and compelling.
Because I wanted to focus on keeping these bouts competitive you may notice these fights would all pretty much happen on the feet. I figure the adaptation to a cage, new gloves, and new striking techniques is all by itself a ton to ask these boxers.
It would simply be a gross miscarriage of justice to ask them to deal with elite ground based fighters in their debuts.
Here's 10 fights that could really settle the MMA vs. Boxing debate once and for all! 3 x 5 min rounds, Unified Rules, 4 oz gloves, in the cage.
In his bout with Sergio Martinez, Paul Williams gained a lot of credibility in the world of boxing and many think a title shot for “The Punisher” has been taken from him because of backroom politics on more than a few occasions. If your a fighter that can't get title fights offered to you, then it might make sense to make the jump to the fairest combat sports in the world, to get what's yours.
If it were to happen, Gilbert Melendez would be an ideal matchup. His boxing has developed into his best asset in the fight game and it'd be a pleasure to see it tested against a fighter of Williams caliber.
While he's been far from what I'd call a consistent fighter, Williams is big, fast on the draw, and lethal with his jab. I'd expect a great standup fight.
Prediction: Paul Williams Unanimous Decision
2004 Gold Medalist, and Super Six World Boxing Classic dark horse would take his 21-0 into the cage for our fantasy showdown.
The boxer many have tipped to be a future star has been underrated in the boxing community for a number of years. As such it only makes sense you'd match him up with Paul Daley, a man who has been equally underrated over his career in MMA.
As far as style matchups go, Ward's a fluid counter puncher and Daley's a mauler. It really doesn't get get too much better than that from a style perspective in boxing, or MMA.
Prediction: Andre Ward, Unanimous Decision
If this fight were to ever happen, I think Britain's collective mind would be blown. Joe Calzaghe is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers to ever lace up a pair of gloves, retiring an impressive 46-0. At 36, murmurings have him contemplating a comeback.
If it were to happen a fight with Michael Bisping's very large mouth would be an easy sell, and his uncanny ability to circle into his opponents power hand would really increase Calzaghe's chances.
"The Count's" wrestling is underrated but he'd only go to it if he felt he was being overwhelmed on the feet, and that means he'd have to eat a number of Calzaghe's best shots.
Prediction Calzaghe TKO, R2
I know what your thinking...and I'm guilty as charged.
For those of you not in the know, if Don King were promoting this fight it would probably get a sassy nickname like,A Tale Of Two Bongs, Cheech & Chong present MMA, or Blunt Force Trauma and it'd assuredly take place on Apr. 20.
If your still not privy to the details of why this fight would be fun—I don't believe you—then I'll inform you that both have a had run-ins with the Marijuana.
Now that my fun is out of the way, Chad Dawson is one of boxing's best fighters. Top five on just about everyone's pound-for-pound boards, and a matchup with Nick Diaz would be a real treat considering his all offense boxing attack.
While I'd question Diaz's defensive boxing in this matchup, either way, it'd be a hell of an after party.
Prediction: Nick Diaz Submission R2
The star of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic, Abraham is considered by many to be the world's best Super Middleweight, with his crushing power and effective counter punching it only makes sense to throw him the best 185lb fighter not named GSP.
Hardy's brash demeanor would certainly add in to the fight build up and he brings legit boxing skills to the cage. It'd also be incredibly intriguing to see how Abraham's power would translate into MMA, however Hardy has the well-rounded ground game to make this a short night.
Prediction: Hardy Submission R1
The long rumored matchup between Roy Jones Jr. and Anderson Silva lost a bit of sheen when Jones suffered a TKO loss in his move up in weight against relative unknown Danny Green.
While the bloom maybe off this rose, victories over Jeff Lacy and Felix Trinidad aren't that far in the rear-view-mirror. It's not that outlandish to think that maybe we indeed must have forgot! Add in the fact Anderson Silva's Professional Boxing Record stands at 1-1, and you can see why this match up could be a bit more competitive than originally thought.
With that said however this is MMA, and this is the man who doesn't simply beat people in the cage, he embarrasses them. This would be a tall order for Roy Jones Jr. even if he could still throw four hooks at one time!
Prediction: Anderson Silva TKO R2
Bernard Hopkins has talked a lot of smack about the sport's homo erotic nature. So of course he's going to be on this card. The aging boxer in one of the thinnest divisions in boxing would have his hands full with Thiago Alves, and that's just the way I like it.
Hopkins won't want to hit the mat (brings back bad prison memories) and something tells me Alves would be happy to oblige. So I'd expect fireworks.
Prediction: Alves, Unanimous Decision
The holder of three of the four major Heavyweight Boxing titles looks to unify the HW division in boxing before retirement is world renown for his glass jaw.
Andrei Arlovski has had more than just overt flirtations with the boxing world training with world class boxing trainer Freddy Roach and has an equally soft chin. I say match made in heaven.
To top it off, both have similar boxing styles, and while Klitschko is the more skilled boxer, Arlovski's Kickboxing is fair game in the cage. It'd be a very interesting matchup, and probably a pick 'em fight.
Prediction: Klitschko TKO R3
2009 Boxer of the Year squares off with 2009 Fighter of the Year. What a fight! Aldo has ran rough shot through the WEC in just a little of over a year, making many in the industry question if anyone at 145lbs can best him.
Manny Pacquiao has made those in Boxing circles ask similar things since he liquefied Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, in brutal fashion.
The transition to MMA would be incredibly tough on the Filipino, whose style relies heavily on accumulation of damage, too slow, and eventually stop his opposition. 15 minutes would not be nearly enough time for him to utilize his traditional gameplan.
Furthermore, Aldo is by far the more explosive athlete with a bag of offensive skills he's never seen before. I find it highly unlikely that the Pac-Man would find his way through all three rounds.
Prediction: Jose Aldo TKO R2.
Oh what a joy the lead up to this fight would be.
Floyd Mayweather is one of boxing's most prevalent stars, with a personality that involves throwing fake money to adoring fans, talking about how awesome he is, and owning private jets, eventually somethings sure to get under Baby J's skin.
And when it does we'd witness a war of smack on YouTube that would come so righteous the Internet might have to shut down to prevent overawesomeification.
I almost don't want it to ever happen because it would ruin all future fights forever, leaving them dull and listless in comparison, sorta like a sugarless cookie, or chocolate skim milk.
When the smack would end, the fight would also be pretty fabulous. While B.J Penn's offense revolves heavily around his jab and uppercut combinations in a very simple, yet effective way. Floyd's speed and jab would be a truly compelling foil.
Penn would probably look to get the fight to the ground but I don't think Mayweather's natural style would allow it very easily, if he learned even a modicum of sprawl.
This fight could set off a debate, that's been had by every gray haired boxing enthusiast in some seedy bar, somewhere. Is it better to box to victory, or swing for the fences and create action?
I think the judges (who are mostly boxing trained) would side with "Money" and set off a substantive debate about the merits of the sweet science in the confines of MMA.
Prediction: Mayweather, Unanimous Decision