Clay Collard wound up in a boxing ring sort of by accident, but the skills he learned from the sweet science are paying dividends during his Professional Fighters League (PFL) run.
Collard is gearing up for a semifinal fight against Raush Manfio in PFL’s $1 million Lightweight playoffs. Collard’s resurgence in mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing sprouted from a need for a few hundred dollars after being released by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) back in 2015.
“I wrecked my car and needed a little work on it. I was training to come back to mixed martial arts. When I wrecked my car, I thought I could use some quick cash. I took a boxing match,” Collard told MMAMania.com. “At the time, I had just met my coach and I asked him, ‘Hey do you mind cornering me in this boxing match.’ He looked up who I was fighting and thought I was crazy. He was like, ‘What are you doing taking this fight? This guy is way bigger than you, he’s got 200 fights, he’s fought on the Marine boxing team. I’m like, ‘Ah, we’ll be alright.’ I ended up winning a split decision. It was a tough fight.
“I think I got paid $300 if you can believe that,” he continued. “The promotor wouldn’t even give me a couple of tickets for my girlfriend at the time or my family. I’m fighting on your show and you’re paying me $300 in my home state and the guy can’t even give me a couple of tickets? Shoutout to Flash for being a piece.”
If you thought that car was a prized good luck charm for Collard, you would be incorrect.
“It got stolen,” Collard said of the car’s status. “The cops hit me up a couple of years later and said, ‘We pulled some guy over. He has your car. He was driving it drunk.’ I could have gone and got it from the police impound, but I never bothered. I had a new car by then.”
Collard (20-8-0-1 in MMA, 9-4-3 in boxing) made a better transition to professional boxing than most of his MMA peers, peaking at a 9-2-3 record and a five-fight win streak. His advice to Tyron Woodley or anyone else making the transition is quite simple.
“Get a good boxing coach. Someone who can teach you how to box — pure boxing,” he asserted. “They are two completely different sports. I have a coach who grew up boxing. Lived, breathed and died boxing.”
Collard vs. Manfio takes place at PFL 7 this weekend (Fri., Aug. 13, 2021) at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The card is headlined by a Welterweight semifinals fight between Ray Cooper III vs. Rory MacDonald.
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