Anthony Pettis has expressed interest in a move to boxing and it nearly happened earlier this year after former boxing champion, Oscar De La Hoya, announced he was coming out of retirement for a fight in July.
As part of the surprising announcement, it was revealed that De La Hoya preferred a “big UFC name” for his comeback. However, it was said that De La Hoya actually turned down one of those big UFC names in Pettis, who was offered up by his First Round Management team immediately upon hearing about his return.
Pettis is now gearing up for his highly anticipated debut under the Professional Fighters League banner, but is still hoping to compete in the squared circle soon. He recently spoke with Amy Kaplan of FanSided to explain what exactly happened with the De La Hoya fight as well as his desire to box before calling it a career.
“I think somebody on their team reached out to my manager about finding a potential opponent,” said Pettis. “He offered me up right away. Talks were happening, but nothing came of it yet. It was kind of quick, you know? It was something he mentioned like he was coming out of retirement, my agent offered my name. I think they brought my name to his team. He was interested, but right now I’m doing this season first, so that’s my first priority.”
Pettis said he was ready to compete in PFL and box De La Hoya if time permitted. The plan was to have ‘Showtime’ box early in February or March, but De La Hoya wanted to have the boxing match either in April or May for Cinco de Mayo weekend. Pettis and his team attempted to make it happen, but it did not work out.
Luckily, Pettis is free to explore other options while with PFL, so a boxing match is not totally off the table.
“They will allow me to do it post or pre-tournament. That is one big reason why I signed with PFL. I can do things that I’m interested in doing like boxing is something I wanted to do my whole life,” said Pettis. “Now it’s an opportunity because all these super fights are happening. Ben [Askren] is fighting Jake Paul and it’s crazy. I’m definitely going to keep my name in the mix. I’m still training my boxing and I see myself doing some kind of boxing before I’m done.”
Pettis is serious about the move from mixed martial arts to boxing, which is why he is staying ready for any opportunity that may come his way. He has been working on his hands a lot during training camp and is excited to show he is much more than the flashy kicker he has been throughout his career.
“I’ve sparred with some of the best boxers around, some champs right now that are currently doing amazing and I’ve held my own and done well. And that was me just using boxing as part of my game. It wasn’t me 100 percent just focused on my hands. My kicks are my strength, so I think in fights I always resort to my kicks and so people don’t see how deep my game is when it just comes to hands. That is something I want to showcase.
“I think after these two seasons of the PFL, I’ll decide what path I’m taking, or at least have a fight by then — hopefully a boxing match — and see how I like it.”
Pettis meets fellow former UFC fighter Clay Collard in the opening round of the lightweight tournament set for the first PFL event of 2021.