FORMER UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is quite adept at punching people in the face with four-ounce UFC gloves on his fists.
This skill, combined with high-level wrestling, helped him win UFC gold in 2016 and then defend the title four times. It also produced knockouts of Robbie Lawler and Josh Koscheck, two good strikers dangerous on their feet.
Yet, despite this proficiency, Woodley has never defeated a professional boxer, active or otherwise, nor appeared in a boxing ring himself.
It is strange, therefore, to hear ‘The Chosen One’ boast about his boxing prowess to TMZ. Stranger still, you wonder what it is that makes him believe he would knock out Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, arguably the biggest name in the sport, if he were to land a clean punch on the Mexican’s chin.
“All I wanted to do is box when I came up,” Woodley told TMZ Sports (so far, so acceptable). “I just started MMA at 23, so I felt I was a little old to start boxing at that age. But, since I was a kid, that’s the only sport I’ve ever wanted to do. So, most of my training is boxing training.
“I still can box right now.”
That’s the semi-sensible stuff. Now to the not-so-sensible stuff.
“I want Canelo,” Woodley said when asked for his dream boxing matchup. “I wanted Canelo. I want the number one guy.
“His defence is crazy. Slipping uppercuts. Who slips an uppercut? He makes you look real stupid. So, I’m throwing all unorthodox, I’m coming and I’m trying to knock him out.
“If I land, he’s going down. Let’s not even play. If I hit Canelo with everything, throw some ass on the punch, it’s a wrap.”
Unfortunately for Woodley, it’s one thing punching wrestlers and jiu-jitsu and judo players in the face, but quite another thing expecting to do the same to men who have been learning to avoid punches – yes, even ones with “asses” on them – since they were old enough to walk.
If you haven’t been keeping up, Tyson Fury has recently made a couple of appearances in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and videos of these appearances have been doing the rounds online.
They feature Fury going at it with WWE superstar Braun Strowman and then ‘fighting’ off a number of other wrestlers trying to prevent him from doing so. It’s all good, harmless fun. It could even be considered a job interview for Fury’s life beyond boxing. Best of all, it’s gaining him the kind of attention few boxers are able to generate in this day and age.
In many ways it’s a win-win scenario for Fury, yet his promoter, Frank Warren, will be pleased when the dalliance is over.
“Tyson Fury loves it,” Warren told Metro.co.uk. “That brawl clip doing the rounds on social media has something like four million views.
“His profile gets bigger every time and he’s doing us promoters a real favour by going on WWE. But, truthfully, I don’t like the risk of his cut opening up. Tyson’s a law unto himself. It’s risky, though, no doubt about that. In an ideal world I’d prefer he didn’t do it, but it’s all about the bigger picture for him. He’s a natural wrestling star.”
So long as his cut doesn’t reopen, which is a fair concern given recent troubles, Fury and the WWE seem a match made in heaven. It will certainly do more for his profile and popularity than routine and poorly attended fights – actual proper fights – against Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin ever did.
Perhaps, in the end, fans are okay with fake fights when they know going in that what they are about to see is fake. It’s when the wool is pulled over their eyes, when they are told something is real or competitive even though they know it’s not, that they tend to look the other way.