Dana White: That’s How Crossovers Into Boxing End

The appetite for mixed martial arts punchers trying their luck at the highest levels of professional boxing should likely be waning following Anthony Joshua’s second-round destruction of former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

As inspired as Ngannou’s effort was in scoring a knockdown against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in their narrow bout won by Fury in October, Joshua laid waste to the theory that power punchers in four-ounce gloves can effectively transcend and thrive in boxing’s squared circle.

That notion was emphasized Saturday night by the man who presided over the most financially successful boxer vs. UFC fighter event of our lives, the 2017 whipping that Floyd Mayweather Jr. put on Conor McGregor.

“You know how I feel about crossovers into boxing,” White told reporters following UFC 299 in Miami. “That’s how they end. Just like that.” 

Ngannou’s performance against Fury gave momentum to the cause and others have sought to propose their own battles, including McGregor’s pitch to box Manny Pacquiao in Saudi Arabia and current UFC bantamweight champion “Suga” Sean O’Malley debating boxing’s 140-pound title challenger Ryan Garcia.

Let’s put those plans where Ngannou was lying Friday night in Riyadh: on ice.

Yes, the big names of each sport are usually strongly marketed, social-media powers who have the ability to stir their followings into a frenzy over such planned bouts.

But the skill disparity that an elite pro boxer carries into the ring against an MMA fighter who must tend to so many other disciplines while training for his/her fight is substantial.

We’ve seen the stand-up dominance of Cris Cyborg in the octagon, but her pursuit to box two-time Olympic champion and undisputed world champion Claressa Shields would not end well.

This is not meant to crush aspirations, but as we peer over the landscape of talent in each sport – especially boxing’s heavyweight division – there is plenty of talent to generate a wealth of compelling fights without wasting time on one-sided main events like Friday’s.

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