THE only thing worse than the November 24 mixed martial arts trilogy fight between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz is the possibility it encourages other former fighters to come out of retirement and do something similar.
Rather than viewing the fight as an example of all that is wrong with modern day combat sports – basically, money trumps everything, including logic and health – Oscar De La Hoya, the promoter behind it, considers Liddell vs. Ortiz III an unlikely source of inspiration.
“The message I want to send here is Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz are going to make the most money they’ve ever made in their entire careers,” De La Hoya told MMA Fighting. “It’s incredible. I’m actually mind-blown by that, because I would have thought Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell — with two names like that — would have made a lot more money in their careers.
“Tito Ortiz looks in phenomenal shape and Chuck Liddell, I call him ‘Chucky’ because he just keeps on coming. This guy is just in incredible, incredible shape.
“I think that price point (for pay-per-view) is perfect. People are responding very well. The indications are that it’s going to do some great, great numbers.”
Forty-eight-year-old Liddell has been inactive since he was begged by Dana White, the UFC president and long-time friend, to retire in 2010 after losing five of his last six fights, three of which ended in violent knockout.
Ortiz, meanwhile, is five years Liddell’s junior at 43, no doubt the fresher of the two, but has competed just twice since November 2014. (He has also twice been knocked out by Liddell – once in 2004, and again in 2006.)
Worse than this, and worse even than the videos of Liddell hitting pads, is the idea that De La Hoya, a brilliant former six-weight world champion, is now teasing a comeback of his own.
“Right now, if I train a couple months, three months, I can go 10 rounds,” De La Hoya, 45, said. “I can go in there with the best. That would be no problem. But I would have to be disciplined and dedicated and focused on it 1000 percent. Why limit yourself to age?”
Retired for a decade now, we have good reason to believe De La Hoya is only dealing in hypotheticals when mentioning training and 10-rounders and going in against the best.
It’s just a shame Liddell vs. Ortiz III couldn’t have also remained a hypothetical.
Manchester lightweight Anthony Crolla is content to play the waiting game ahead of a proposed fight against Ukrainian star Vasyl Lomachenko next year.
The former WBA champion, last seen defeating Daud Yordan in Manchester, is next in line to face Lomachenko but must first wait on the outcome of the December 8 fight between the current WBA champion and WBO champion Jose Pedraza. Only then will he have a better idea of how his 2019 is going to shape up.
“He’s mandatory now,” Joe Gallagher, Crolla’s trainer, told Sky Sports. “Obviously Lomachenko now defends against Pedraza in December.
“I’m sure the governing body will be putting the mandatory status on the champion, and it will have to go out to purse bids.
“Anthony Crolla is in a great position now. We just have to sit back and, like Eddie Hearn says, see the purse bids take their toll.”
As well as it being a great position, some critics will say it’s a slightly fortunate one.
Crolla, after all, lost twice against Jorge Linares (first in 2016 and then in 2017), a man Lomachenko stopped in 10 rounds in May of this year, and has won just three fights since. Included among those victories are good ones against Ricky Burns, the former world champion from Scotland, and Yordan, yet there remains a sense the gulf between Crolla and Lomachenko is considerable.
“Lomachenko, whether the fight would happen here in the UK at the Manchester Arena, or whether we may have to go to Madison Square Garden, I think it’s a great opportunity for Anthony Crolla to challenge himself against one of the best in the world,” said Gallagher.
“Somebody has to fight Lomachenko, Lomachenko has to defend against somebody, and Anthony Crolla has done a fantastic job since losing to Linares to come back and put himself in the driving seat.
“He beat Ricky Burns, a three-weight world champion, he just beat the Mexican (Edson Ramirez), and then he had a great win against the number two in the WBA rankings (Yordan), so no-one can say Anthony Crolla has been given this opportunity.
“He’s worked hard for it, and no-one should be able to deny him that opportunity of testing himself against the best in the world.”
Whether the Mancunian is ultimately competitive with Lomachenko or not, Gallagher’s right. It’s hard to begrudge Anthony Crolla, one of the nicest guys in the sport, any break that comes his way.