By MATT BOONE
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer
General consensus number one (or number two) pound-for-pound boxer (depending on where you rank Floyd Mayweather) Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao recently expressed his interest in following in the footsteps of fellow multi-division boxing champion James “Lights Out” Toney, by stepping into the cage for a MMA bout.
The subject of mixed-martial arts was brought up during a recent pre-fight press conference for Pacquiao, who was asked directly by members of the boxing media to share his thoughts on the possibility of putting on the smaller, fingerless gloves for a scrap inside the octagon (or any other MMA cage/ring).
When prompted, Pacman initially described the sport as too violent, before elaborating further by stating, “I want to [fight MMA], but they [Pacquiao's representatives] don't want me to fight.”
The pride of the Philippines continued, claiming if Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions and his personal adviser Michael Koncz gave it the green light, he would entertain the idea of stepping into the cage for a mixed-martial arts bout.
These comments lead to Pacman's adviser clarifying a thing or two in terms of what is and isn't permitted, as far as he's concerned. Koncz stated, “you know that you could do what you want.”
Obviously there's no need for any kind of “Pacquiao-watch” inside MMA circles. However, it is interesting to hear THE guy in the sport of boxing share such a sentiment on this particular subject. While you can pretty much bet your house, car, and anything else of value behind Pacman moving zero-steps closer than he has already with his brief, somewhat “throw-away” comments mentioned above, it does show that the Toney vs. Randy Couture experiment, while dubbed by many a “freak show,” did attract the attention of the boxing community, from bottom to top, despite their lack of coverage leading into UFC 118.
The boxing media and fighters within the sport were “hush-hush” leading into the one-time only occurrence that emanated from Boston's TD Garden last weekend, which resulted in the expected outcome to those with an ounce of intelligence, yet they were seemingly well-aware of everything that went down as proven by the need for the topic to come up during a press conference for arguably the biggest/best guy in their sport. You would think the boxing media would have plenty of questions to ask their top dog, yet MMA came up in their first major gathering following the UFC 118 show. Call me crazy, but I don't see Mirko CroCop or Frank Mir being asked by Ariel Helwani or Dave Meltzer about a boxing match with Wladimir Klitschko at the press conference for their upcoming fight at UFC 119 on September 25. Boxing and everyone involved in their sport has its' eye on our sport right now, no doubt about it.
Case in point: Toney-Couture did its' job.
Maybe Pacman is smart enough, along with his handlers, to avoid MMA like a fat person on a diet avoids a cheeseburger, but the interest drawn by the big “UFC vs. boxing” showdown just may have caught the eye of a bigger name boxer somewhere out there. One worth getting amped up for, unlike Toney, who was well past his prime and way out of shape for what was clearly a quick payday, as well as an attempt to build his name to a different audience to increase his appeal in his own sport of boxing. While UFC may have declared the end of their involvement in boxing vs. MMA matched fights, a secondary promotion (such as Strikeforce) could reap the benefits of their one-time experiment if a legit star-boxer is in fact curious enough – or desperate enough depending on their business standing in their sport – to try their luck in our sport.
Maybe Mike Tyson bought UFC 118 and thought to himself “screw it, let's have some fun.”
Maybe Floyd Mayweather saw the show, and much like Toney, is legitimately arrogant enough to think he is that invincible.
Maybe one of the Klitschko brothers will think with their “sorta-kinda” kickboxing background mixed with their supreme boxing skills, that they have what Toney needed to win one for the sweet science.
You have to think somewhere out there someone of value in boxing saw Toney vs. Couture and thought to themselves, “that wouldn't happen to me if I was in there.”
Only time will tell.
If you had to pick just one, which pro boxer still in fighting shape would you like to see enter the MMA realm for another mega-“MMA vs. boxing” showdown? And based on the boxer you pick, which MMA fighter would you like to see him matched up against? Share your thoughts on this subject today in the ongoing discussion in both the MMANEWS.COM Forums and the MMANEWS.COM Facebook Page.