Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just Not the Right Fit: Boxers Should Learn a Lesson from Playing the MMA, Like James Toney

Champion boxer James Toney decided to call it quits from the sport to endure a career in Mixed Martial Arts. He would face Randy Couture in his debut, and boy did he get it handed to him. Toney was getting beaten so bad that they had to call the fight done early. This was the first time something like this happened to him.

In the MMA, if you all you are going to do is be a punching-machine, you are not going to find a lot of success. You have to learn many other things, which is way it is obviously called Mixed Martial Arts. A lot of boxers should learn a lesson from going to the MMA.

Many thought folks coming from the WWE will not succeed in the Octagon. However, they did. Some proof can be Bobby Lashley, who has had some success, and Brock Lesnar as well. Both know how to wrestle despite “acting” back in the ring with the Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment.

But boxers, on the otherhand, need to learn a lesson: you can’t succeed by just punching in the MMA. Despite all the training you do, you have to do a lot more to cut it and be truly ready. It quite surprises me, though, that it is just boxers that succeed. Players from other sports have, too (except Jose Canseco).

Look at Michael Westbrook. Westbrook was a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, and was mostly well-known for beating the snot out of his teammate, Stephen Davis, during a practice. Westbrook didn’t have the heart in him for football, and now years later, he is an MMA fighter and has had a lot of success.

Or you can take a look at Herschel Walker. He is well-known as one of the best running backs in football history playing in the United States Football League, and also playing in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. Walker, now nearing his 50′s, can still pound it. This time, he is not pounding linebackers and cornerbacks, he’s pounding his opponent in the Octagon! At 6’1″ and 220 pounds, Walker can still bring it. He is currently 1-0 and is looking for his next fight this Fall.

And yet, despite all these players’ success, boxers can’t seem to cut it through. MMA president Dana White didn’t have confidence in Toney winning the fight.

“James Toney picked this fight, and he got a fight,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN.com. “Toney lasted longer than I thought he would. It’s unfair to put a guy in there with one discipline, even if he’s trained for several months.”

Couture didn’t even let Toney lay a punch on him!

“I wanted to give James Toney the total mixed martial arts experience,” Couture said.

Toney much reminds of what happened to Kimbo Slice. Slice is well-known for his streetfighting, and is known for his crazy power-punches. I consider Slice more of a boxer. Everyone fantasized him and overhyped him in his MMA debut. But he found no success, and was a bust. After spending three years in the Octagon, Slice decided to call it quits and move his fighting skills to the ring. Boxing.

“I feel like a baby all over again,” the 36-year-old Slice said. “I’m thinking about this at night. I’m gonna be a problem in the heavyweight division. I’m going to be coming in with a bad demeanor. I want to see what it’s like to break some ribs, break a jaw with one punch.”

Slice appreciated that Dana White gave him the opportunities. But then again, like most punching-machines, they just aren’t suitable for the MMA. They just aren’t. Despite how good Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are in boxing, I don’t think they can last very long if they were to be in the MMA.

“This is a career move,” he said. “I love fighting. I like to knock people the [expletive] out. I love engaging. Maybe some people think I’m crazy.”

You aren’t. If I were Slice, I probably would have done the same thing. He just wasn’t the right fit. With Slice moving to boxing, I think the hype will come back to him and I think he can finally bring it. I believe Slice can be a legend in boxing if he can put his mind to it. But then again, at 36, he only has less than a decade to prove so.

“He could easily be at the same level as guys the Klitschkos have been fighting,” said New Jersey fighting promoter, Gary Shaw. “Maybe I’m wrong, maybe he’s coming to boxing too late, but I don’t think so. He’s not a beaten-up athlete. He’s a natural, with that bob and weave like Mike Tyson.”

Slice couldn’t keep up with the folks in the MMA. His knees were too balky and he wasn’t fast enough to be on top with the guys in the MMA. Along with that, Slice has been squatting 315 pounds. In the ring, all he has to do is punching, especially since he is in the heavyweight class. If Slice is successful, he can make the money in the range of what Mayweather makes per fight.

“That’d be nice,” he said. “But unfortunately I’m still a little squirrel, in a big [expletive] world, looking for my nut.”

“I’ve always said he could be a world champion,” said Shaw, who was an executive at Elite XC, the promotional outlet which staged Slice’s first four MMA bouts. “I believe in that more than ever. This is not the era of Tyson, Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.”

Boxers like Slice and such can learn a lesson from the MMA: they just aren’t the right fit. If all you want to do is just punch, then you need to pick a new career in the fighting category. It’s just that simple. If you are a boxer who wants to go into the MMA, you need to train a lot and learn a lot more than just the punching focuses of the game.

James Toney and Kimbo Slice know why they aren’t the right fit for the MMA. If I were Toney, he should go back to boxing. It’s the right thing to do. Many boxers who are considering going into the MMA right now should quickly consider what they are going into.

Let’s just hope they know what’s coming.

Let’s hope the MMA will see the last of the likes of people like James Toney.
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