Boxing great George Foreman would have liked to see what Derrick Lewis would have become had he chosen the path of boxing instead of MMA.
Over a decade ago, long before MMA fans worldwide became accustomed to the man who would later be known as “The Black Beast,” Lewis was sharpening his tools for a run as a potential boxer. One of the sheds where Lewis put in work was in George Foreman’s gym.
Foreman saw up close how much potential was in the hands that Lewis possessed, so when Lewis decided to enter MMA instead of boxing, he couldn’t help but feel disappointed, even though he now acknowledges how much that decision has paid off.
“He made that move [to MMA], and it was a wise move, but it was a heartbreaking move for me because he could have been a great boxer,” Foreman told ESPN.
Instead, Lewis went on to become a great, albeit unconventional, mixed martial artist. Like Foreman during his boxing career, Lewis has become known as one of the best knockout artists in MMA history. In fact, The Black Beast currently holds the record for the most KOs ever in the UFC.
Even though many years have passed since those humbler days, Lewis still vividly recalls how invested Foreman was in seeing him become a boxer.
“He was going to put me in an apartment, he gave me a car,” Lewis said. “I told him, ‘I’m just going to wait and see how my first MMA match goes.’ And they really didn’t want to hear it. … I ended up fighting my first MMA match. I won, and I told them I’m not going to do any boxing. I’m gonna stick to MMA. So, they took the car from me and they said they ain’t getting no apartment and ‘we’ll holla at you.'”
Derrick Lewis has been bone-deep in the MMA game now for over a decade and has been competing in the UFC since 2014. This Saturday, Lewis will look to become the interim UFC heavyweight champion when he faces the undefeated Ciryl Gane at UFC 265.
Now 36 years old and right in the thick of the title picture in MMA’s biggest promotion, is it too late for Lewis to become a boxer? Big George doesn’t necessarily think so.
“If he’s given the right heavyweight match, he could do well. I would help him,” Foreman said. “…With his experience and extra skill he can become a great boxer and make a lot of money.”
Derrick Lewis also expressed that it would be a pleasant sight if his fellow Houstonian George Foreman would be able to be in attendance to watch him compete for the interim UFC heavyweight title inside The Toyota Center in front of a sold-out arena.
UFC 265 takes place this Saturday, August 7, 2021, and will stream exclusively on ESPN+.