On May 15, one of boxing's perennial bad boys, Ricardo Mayorga intends to bring his very unique style and cross over to MMA. Mayorga will be the first truly high profile and world class boxer to ever engage a modern mixed martial artist. James Toney will not be far behind, but Mayorga's MMA debut will mark a historical event for both boxing and MMA.
While the UFC may have pit boxers and other fighters against each other in the past, never has it been done since MMA has evolved into what it is today.
Welcoming Mr. Mayorga to the sport is the crafty, and world class fighter, Din Thomas (25-8). Like Mayorga has done in boxing, Thomas has fought some of the best in the world during his MMA career.
With wins over Clay Guida, Matt Serra, Jens Pulver, Jeremy Stephens, and Rich Clementi, as well as experience fighting against Kenny Florian and B.J. Penn, its clear that Thomas has been in the cage with many of the best lightweights the sport has to offer.
Thomas was kind enough to answer some questions about his upcoming battle with the boxer at Shine Fight's Wolds Collide. This man is undoubtedly chomping at the bit, and can't wait to put his stamp on the never ending boxing vs. MMA debate.
When asked about his thoughts on the opportunity, Din has this to day.
"Honestly with him coming over, and me voicing my opinion about the fact that I didn't like the way boxers were talking trash about us, because this is my passion and this is what I feel strongly about and I didn't like it, I feel it was almost a dream come true.
"For them to be calling and say 'you know what we're going to let you get a crack at him,' for me it was just like a breath of fresh air. Especially being on PPV and being on TV. I just can't wait to get out there and put a foot in boxing's mouth."
Thomas was also very quick to explain that his discontent is not with boxing, but with the disregard many in boxing have for MMA.
"I'm not going to say all of them, I'm a boxing fan and I like boxing, but the ones that have been talking trash, it hurts my heart. Because I've been fans of these guys for a long time, Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, and these guys talking all this garbage.
"Saying stuff like MMA is a bunch of gay guys rolling around, and we can't fight or whatever. I'm like you need to have a little bit more respect, because if you feel like that's all we are, you need to step up and prove it. And I will fight them all in one day to be honest with you. One after the other I will choke each one of them out, Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, and we can start with Mayorga."
Din went on to explain that he is not opposed to banging with the former world champion. Just a few weeks after the interview Din was to compete in a grappling competition in Poland that he has been training for. And after that he vowed to focus heavily on his stand up and claimed "I really want to knock Mayorga's head off."
He discussed why he is so confident in his stand up: "When I'm training at American Top Team with those guys, I'm not only just handling my own, but some days when I'm having a good day, I have cats running from me.
"So I do feel like I'm one of the best in the world, at any time we're throwing hands. So I'm going to go at him and I'm going to try and knock his head off. I feel like I'm better standing up than him."
When pressed for more detail Din added "I'm not going to stand and go toe to toe with him. That's not my style, I wouldn't do that with anybody. But standing up and picking them apart is my style, and I don't see a problem with me standing up and picking him apart. I want to send him back to his corner depressed."
Din talked about studying Mayorga's boxing footage to prepare for him in MMA. "It would be one thing if perhaps he was training in MMA prior. But I don't think he really knows any other way to fight and that's what I'm going on, what he has shown in his fights. I think really that's how he's going to fight, his stance is going to be the same, he is going to throw punches the same, I'm really preparing for him to be the same."
Din acknowledges and appreciates the fact that Mayorga refuses to fight anyone less than world class in MMA. "I think it is commendable that he is stepping up and saying he only wants to fight top guys." He went on to say, "Not to toot my own horn, but I have been around a long time, I do have a lot of experience, and I am a skilled fighter. For him to say he only wants the best, that is commendable and I totally respect that. It doesn't mean I'm going to whoop him up any less, but I do respect that."
Din also recognizes the potential for drama that follows Mayorga everywhere he goes, and is prepared for that.
"He talks some trash. To be honest, I want him to talk a little trash because I'm going to talk a little trash back to him. Like I said I respect him, but I ain't no punk, and if he wants to try and bully me around, push me up in the press conference, we are going to throw down there too, because I'm not gong to let him bully me."
Din talked about the rift between boxing and MMA, and explained it has a lot to do with respect. "Most MMA guys have nothing but respect for boxers. We spend a lot of time trying to develop our hands as best as we can to make it apply to MMA. But at the same time we don't go out and say boxing this and that, we respect boxing."
"And I think boxers should have a little more respect for us. And if they don't, then prove it, show me how good you are in a fight where you've got smaller gloves on and I can grab you, I can kick you, I can knee you, I can elbow you, and I can choke you out. So show me what you can do with those hands."
Din definitely wanted to display some of that respect and explain, it's not personal more so than it's principal at this point. "It sucks for Mayorga, I'm going to tell you the truth. I'm going to take out my frustrations of the trash talk of other boxers, I've got to take it out on him.
"To be honest with you, I kind of like him, he's a character, he's got a lot of style and he fights. He steps up, and he has always fought. And he has stepped up to fight in MMA and I have to respect that and I like that about him."
Din went on to further explain, "But I think it sucks for him, because I'm going to take out my frustration from the words of other boxers on him. It's going to be a bad day for him, but at the end of the day I'm still going to do what I have to do to shut up the boxing world."
In the ongoing grudge match that is boxing vs. MMA this fight is of historical proportions. In a way, this could be one of the biggest fights either sports has seen in some time. It may not be Golden Boy or UFC, but this match is the first step in bringing two world class sports and fan bases together.
Thomas vs. Mayorga is huge. Shine Fights has really broken the mold on this one. Din Thomas is a proud mixed martial artist who has been patiently waiting for his chance to represent MMA against a boxer. Mayorga is a world renowned former champion pugilist who is ready to take that plunge into Din's world.
If you call yourself a fight fan of any sort, make no mistake about it, you do not want to miss this card. Thank you to Din Thomas for sharing his take with us.