MMA fighters crossing over to boxing have rarely seemed to meet immediate success. Anderson Silva lost his pro debut, as did Mike Perry, and even Israel Adesanya. Of course Conor McGregor got a chance to perform on boxing’s biggest stage as one half of a PPV main event against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Otherwise, Joe Duffy & Kimbo Slice had some surprising success in the ring, each putting together a 7-0 unbeaten record against a variety of low level journeyman opponents. Perhaps the most notable crossover success story comes in the form of Clay Collard, whose seemingly less than impressive 9-4-3 record as a boxer has been largely built against promising prospects on the rise.
All this is to say, that for most mixed martial artists, the crossover from MMA into boxing has tended to be a difficult one. At least for fighters looking to grab meaningful victories.
Whether or not Jake Paul would be a meaningful victory for Ben Askren remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t sound like the former Bellator and ONE champion is struggling with adapting his skills to a whole new combat sport. To hear Askren tell it, in an interview with MMA Fighting, boxing is the easiest training he’s ever done in his life.
“Way less,” Askren responded, when asked if boxing was as stressful to his body as wrestling. “In wrestling, you get put in all kinds of really, really strange positions. Boxing is way easier than anything. Jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, Muay Thai, there’s very little stress comparatively.”
“I love the aspect like training to try and be good at something,” Askren added. “When you think about it, boxing is so much easier than mixed martial arts. You just have to take your two hands and punch somebody in the face.
“Whereas in mixed martial arts you have to worry about the takedown, you can get takedowns, you can stuff the takedowns, you can clinch them, you can knee them, you can kick them, you can punch them, you can elbow them. Once you’re on the ground, then there’s a whole other boatload of stuff. MMA is almost an information overload. This one is just drilling repetitions, getting in shape, feeling time and distances, that type of stuff.”
Will Askren’s “three months of training” be enough to “beat up an amateur boxer,” as he put it? We’ll know come Saturday. But, whatever the result, don’t expect ‘Funky’ Ben to turn this new combat sports venture into a long term thing. “I’m not going to be a full-time boxer,” Askren admitted, “but I got an interesting opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it.”