The list of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters eager to test their skills in the professional boxing ring is long and distinguished, probably because they expect a hefty payday. The list of those who have actually made the cross over, however, is pretty small.
Still, there are established Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title holders who are adamant they can make the leap over and be successful, including current Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. In fact, “Nigerian Nightmare” went as far as to call out none other than Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the consensus pound-for-pound best boxer on the planet.
According to long-time boxing trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas — who has become a huge fan of MMA over the years — Usman won’t find the success he thinks he will obtain if he crosses over. And he says that will all due respect to what “Nigerian Nightmare” has accomplished inside the Octagon.
“He’s got physicality, he’s very strong, he’s a decent puncher and he’s not a bad striker – although I think a lot of his strengths are on the mat with his knowledge there and his physicality,” Atlas told The Schmo (via MMA Junkie).
According to Atlas — who has trained the likes of former WBA and IBF Heavyweight champion Michael Moorer and former WBO Welterweight champion, Timothy Bradley — Usman won’t stand a chance against Alvarez. In fact, the 170-pound champion won’t be successful against lower-level fighters.
“You throw him in there with a B-level guy or even a good journeyman guy, no. I don’t want to upset anyone with the fans out there, but as long as the rules are strictly boxing, no he wouldn’t be able to have tremendous success there.”
As far as “Canelo’s” interest in boxing Usman, it’s pretty much non-existent, suggesting that the UFC champion is only interested in the fight for a “payday.”
During his stint as UFC Welterweight champion, Usman has collected three stoppages via strikes, including a highlight-reel, one-punch knockout win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 (see it again here).
While a boxing match isn’t in Usman’s near future, he still has plenty of challenges ahead of him inside the Octagon. He doesn’t have his next title defense lined up after defeating Colby Covington a second time at UFC 268, but he should get a better idea regarding who he will face next in the coming months.