By Robert Jackson: Once again the boxing fan in me has been let down, first and second Mayweather/Pacquiao failed to bear fruit and now…’Lights Out’ had his lights turned out. UFC chief Dana White has to be licking his chops with the successful minimization of boxing – via the submission loss of James Toney to Randy Couture, and the twice unmade Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, and to top it off the reduction of Internet Star Kimbo Slice’ roar to a whimper as Kimbo failed miserably in his foray into professional Mixed Martial Arts competition. Have these 4 events put MMA and specifically the UFC in the ‘driver’s seat’ of COMBAT Sports?
So, is boxing dead, or is MMA fighting better?
To be honest, I gave Toney a punchers chance of beating Couture until I saw the weigh-in and James’ body along with the announced weight of 237lbs for Light’s Out. Weren’t BOXING fans complaining about James being too heavy and out-of-shape at weights higher than 220lbs?? One thing I will give the MMA fighters is their HIGH level of conditioning and preparedness, two things that somehow, sometimes, fall short with pro boxers. When I saw the svelte 220lb Randy Couture I KNEW then that it would be a long…no, short night for Toney, I also surmised that James underestimated the MMA game. But to James’ luck, Couture who I believe has a great deal of respect for Toney, took it easy on JT and didn’t give him the beat down he could’ve of given him by ending the fight with a simple side choke that even the most inexperienced MMA fighters know how to avoid. James also seemed to be pretty gassed by the end of the fight. This doesn’t mean that boxing is dead, because as with the seasons, the new…eventually replace the old, and up-and-comers like Juan Manual Lopez and Alfredo Angulo are hungry to prove their worth in the boxing ring. Toney will soon take his place amongst boxing’s hall of famers as Couture has already in the UFC HOF. As far as MMA being a better fighting art that remains up to speculation. On the UFC 117 Silva vs. Sonnen undercard, Jr. Dos Santos took on veteran MMAer Roy Nelson – Winner of TUF 10. Nelson a well rounded MMA fighter with very good ground skills and decent standup skills was taken out by Dos Santos’ dominating STRIKING, Dos Santos prevented Nelson from getting him off of his feet and used his boxing to batter Nelson unmercifully. Former UFC 205lb champion Chuck Liddell was primarily a striker in his heyday at 205lbs and didn’t allow his opponents to get him off of his feet. Those points were made to say that any boxer making the transition to MMA can be successful by adapting his boxing to the MMA game – more mobility, wider stance, and takedown defense.
So what does this mean for the Boxing vs. MMA debate?
Nothing more or less was proven by a 42 year old boxer many years past his prime in boxing taking on a 47 year old MMA fighter who’s also seen better days, except to congratulate the victor. Had this been David Haye or any other ‘young buck’ heavyweight boxer the ramifications of a loss in the CAGE could be GREAT. As a boxing fan I can also see BOXING taking on the MMA challenge to eventually get in the CAGE and whoop those MMA fighters. After all the history of boxing knowledge is vast and a good boxing trainer can adapt a boxers style to compete in the CAGE can’t he/she? In any case the top boxers – Mayweather, Pacquiao and others’ would never compete against combat athletes who barely make a $1M purse for a main event fight, compared to the multimillion dollar purses of the top pro-boxing main event fights. So until there is economic parity between Pro-Boxing’s top guys and MMA’s top guys the answer to which sport is better hasn’t yet been answered.