Former Michigan State Spartan Michael Jordan Has Success in Boxing Ring

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIJuly 25, 2010

Ramon Diaz was the first to experience former Michigan State football player Michael Jordan's wrath in the boxing ring.

Charles Merchant was the last.

Jordan, who played on special teams and defense while in East Lansing, handed Diaz a first-round, first-minute knockout Thursday.

It was Jordan's first amateur fight.

Merchant, who was Jordan's opponent in Saturday's title bout, lost by way of third-round decision.

It was Jordan's natural talent that led him to the Desert Challenge Tournament title.

And it's quite possible he had a little help from a close friend at the 9-year-old event held at Spotlight 29 Casino in Indio, Calif.

"When I stepped in that ring I knew I was going to win before I threw my first punch," Jordan said Sunday. "Because God is my coach, and my faith is stronger than any opponent I may ever face."

While divine intervention could be debated, Jordan's natural ability can't be.

Jordan's trainer, three-time WBC and IBF welterweight champion Simon Brown , said the former Spartan has adapted to boxing sooner than expected.

"No. 1—you have to have the heart," Brown said Friday. "And by seeing him, I saw he has the heart. As time goes on, he was working out, he has the natural ability.

"We want to keep on working on different techniques to get him better. I feel like he has a long future, and a good future as a boxer."

After graduating from MSU in 2010, Jordan had a shot at an NFL career. There was a potential workout with the Detroit Lions in the works, but it never panned out. He said he "didn't get the call he wanted," so that led him to experiment with the sweet science.

"My first love is football, and if I get the opportunity again, I’m going to give it a shot," Jordan said. "The program knows that. I’m sure they would be understanding.

"I’ve progressed amazingly fast. It has spiked up tremendously. They have a lot of good things to say about me—they see a lot of upside. They have the confidence that I have the ability to be a championship contender."

Brown, who would prefer Jordan stay in the ring as opposed to suiting up in pads and helmet, said he wants Jordan to follow his heart.

"I would like to see him stick to boxing," Brown said. "He’s good in football, but he has to make that decision.

"He definitely has the ability. He takes the instruction very good. He got the job done. He went in there and did exactly what he was told to do, and came out a winner."

Jordan's agility and pure size have given him an advantage from the start. He's 6'6", and went from a robust 295 pounds to a lean 276 in a matter of just two months. His football experience, accompanied with vigorous workouts with All-American Boxing in Los Angeles, has paid dividends.

"It helps me out as far as the mental toughness aspect—having to push through any injury I may have come across," Jordan said.

"I push through. It's not really for everyone, there are guys that played football that come into this sport that just don’t have it. It’s something deep inside you. In boxing, you have to have the ability to take big hits, remain calm, keep your composure and remain in the fight."

Now, it's not about the team for Jordan. It's about his own strength and skill.

And he said the personal aspect of boxing appealed to him during his decision-making process.

"Each individual goes after one goal, and that’s the heavyweight championship," Jordan said. Boxing—I don’t love it—but I like it enough because the competitiveness and individualism.

"You go in the ring, and get a knockout like that, it’s a great feeling. I wanted to jump up with joy, but I’ve trained myself to be calm, like I’ve done it before.

"Instead of go team—it’s  go Michael. It’s not go green, go white, or go defense. It’s all on me. It’s either you or him, and it’s all eyes on you. You have to perform. It’s quite an experience, I must say."