When Boxers Make Bad Decisions

By Jake Rossen Mar 4, 2010
James Toney has signed a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but you knew that already. If his opponent fights intelligently, he’s likely to become a grappling dummy, but you knew that already, too.

The idea of the accredited boxer against the martial artist is not a new concept, though Toney is far and away the most famous and credible to participate in it. Unfortunately, precedent is not on his side. Here’s a scorecard.

Art Jimmerson
A capable light-heavyweight contender who was looking at a money fight with Thomas Hearns before getting talked into a decent payday at UFC 1. He was matched against Royce Gracie in the quarterfinals. Spoiler: he did not make it to the semifinals.
Verdict: Still has one last big payday waiting whenever he decides to sell that one glove on eBay.

Yosuke Nishijima
Japanese pro boxer -- who knew Japan had a pro circuit? -- who went 0-5 in MMA and 0-2 in K-1 kickboxing.
Verdict: Terrific hands, carp on the mat.

Ray Mercer
Collapsing stationary target Tim Sylvia was boxing’s biggest win in the sport: two years earlier, he was choked out by MMA neophyte Kimbo Slice.
Verdict: Mercer to MMA: Do not stand completely still in front of a pro boxer. MMA to Mercer: Duh. Sylvia will never live this one down.

Jeremy Williams
48-5-1 boxer who made the transition in 2005, racking up an impressive 5-0 record helped in no small part by a black belt in judo. Once tossed Lennox Lewis on his ass in a training camp.
Verdict: Judo-boxing is formidable.

Francois Botha
Heavyweight who fought a who’s-who of the 1990s scene, including Tyson and Lewis: 4-11 in K-1 kickboxing. Prior to Toney, Botha was involved in probably the most clear-cut boxer vs. grappler fight in modern fightsport, an armbar loss to current UFC middleweight and accomplished Judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Verdict: Took a full cup to get into mixed-style fighting before it became fashionable for boxers to do so.

Eric Esch
Club-level Toughman puncher who accumulated a fair 12-6 record in MMA, including a key lock submission win in Pride. 350 lbs., he lost to 150 lb. Genki Sudo in his MMA debut in 2003. Yes, there’s a learning curve at work here.
Verdict: Like trying to take down a bowling ball.

Shannon Briggs
Trained at American Top Team, which should result in a credible and well-rounded game, but only stepped outside of boxing’s rules once, for a K-1 fight against -- wait for it -- wrestler Tom Erikson.
Verdict: Shameful deck-stacking.

Jeremy Bates
Journeyman heavyweight who got called up to fight Evander Holyfield. (Bates lost.) Currently cross-training.

Ricardo Mayorga
Taking the worst first fight possible against veteran fighter Din Thomas in May.

Flirted: James “Bonecrusher” Smith (approached for UFC 1), Shannon Briggs (rumored to fight Tim Sylvia in a 2003 UFC), Toney (labeled “crazy enough” to try MMA by Dana White earlier in the last decade), Floyd Mayweather (2007 PR stunt babble), Hasim Rahman (floated the idea early in 2009, never followed up), Roy Jones Jr. (offered to fight Anderson Silva in the UFC, UFC declined).
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