When Pretenders Step into the Ring: The Harsh Reality Check

By Amy A Kaplan - 03/09/2024 - Comments

It’s time MMA enthusiasts and YouTube “stars” (stop making stupid people famous!) stop playing boxing. In an era where everyone seems to have a puncher’s chance, MMA and YouTube personalities have started stepping into the boxing ring, much to the amusement (or dismay) of traditional boxing fans.. It’s like watching your dad try to use TikTok — awkward and somewhat endearing, but ultimately a recipe for disaster.

Take, for instance, yesterday’s spectacle of Francis Ngannou, a behemoth from the MMA world, deciding it’d be a fun idea to trade his four-ounce gloves for the heavier boxing mitts against none other than Anthony Joshua.

Remember the time when the rumor mill went wild, churning out tales of Francis Ngannou’s chin being as tough as granite? Ah, yes, those were the days! It all stemmed from a rather lackluster encounter with Tyson Fury, who seemed about as enthusiastic as a teenager dragged to a family reunion. Fury, looking like he’d rather be anywhere else, barely threw a punch that screamed, “I mean business.”

And just like that, folklore was born. Ngannou, having survived a fight where Fury appeared more bored than a cat watching paint dry, was suddenly the owner of the most indestructible chin in combat sports. The masses roared with approval, hailing his resilience as if he’d gone toe-to-toe with a prime Mike Tyson, rather than a disinterested Fury who seemed to be mentally compiling his grocery list mid-fight.

The whispers spread like wildfire, painting Ngannou as this unbreakable force, all because Fury decided to treat the fight like a light sparring session. MMA and even many boxing fans everywhere were chuckling, patting each other on the back, saying, “Did you see that? Ngannou’s chin is the real deal!” Meanwhile, the rest of us watched, bemused, wondering if we’d witnessed the same “fight.”

It’s almost as if the collective memory decided to ignore the tepid affair and instead, crafted a tale of epic proportions. Because, in the world of combat sports, why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

And then the fight happened…

In a display that will surely go down in the annals of “Well, that escalated quickly,” Anthony Joshua transformed Francis Ngannou into a living, breathing example of what happens when an unstoppable force meets a very movable object. Not once, not twice, but thrice did Joshua send Ngannou to the canvas.

The fight was less about competition and more a harsh lesson in humility. Joshua, with his polished boxing skills, didn’t just win; he provided a masterclass, turning Ngannou into a walking punch bag. It was less of a competitive fight and more of an educational program on why MMA fighters should stick to their octagons.

By the end of it, with Ngannou sprawled out and staring at the lights, you could almost hear him wondering if the UFC has a generous return policy or if his receipt was still valid.

Image: When Pretenders Step into the Ring: The Harsh Reality Check

Let’s take a whimsical detour down memory lane to one of combat sports’ more comical chapters, shall we?

Remember the tale of Conor McGregor? Conor must have woken up one morning and thought, “Hey, boxing seems easy!” before stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather. The time when MMA enthusiasts, bless their optimistic souls, were utterly convinced Conor McGregor was going to knock out Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring. Ah, the optimism! It was like betting on a penguin to win the Iditarod—charming in its naivety.

Remember the buzz? The absolute certainty in the air, thick enough to slice with a glove? Oh, the debates, the analyses, the heated arguments in pubs and across social media platforms, all resting on the belief that McGregor, the MMA maestro, was going to waltz into Mayweather’s domain and rewrite the laws of physics, logic, and perhaps even sportsmanship.

It was as if the collective MMA fandom had discovered a secret, an arcane piece of knowledge that somehow eluded the rest of the sporting world. “McGregor’s power,” they said, “his left hand, it’s otherworldly. Mayweather’s never faced anything like it!” It was akin to watching a group of people trying to will a square peg through a round hole with sheer belief.

The bets were placed, the predictions made with the kind of confidence usually reserved for sunrise and taxes. The air was electric, charged with the anticipation of witnessing history, of telling grandkids, “I was there when McGregor flattened Mayweather.”

And let’s not forget the build-up, the theatrics, and the trash talk that could fuel a soap opera for months. It was as if the outcome was a foregone conclusion, with McGregor as the valiant knight ready to slay the dragon. The bets were flying in, with the kind of confidence you’d admire if it wasn’t so wildly misplaced.

And then the fight happened…

McGregor was like a kid at his first magic show, wide-eyed and utterly bewildered. Mayweather, with a smirk probably hidden under his mouthguard, played with McGregor like a cat with a laser pointer. It was less of a fight and more of a reality check, broadcasted live for the world to see. Mayweather didn’t just beat McGregor; he gave him a tour of the boxing ring, one humiliating round at a time.

In the end, the only thing McGregor knocked out was the notion that crossing over from MMA to boxing was as easy as flipping a switch. And those bets? Well, let’s just say they became the stuff of legend—tales to be told with a chuckle and a shake of the head, a reminder of the time when optimism crashed headlong into the solid wall of Mayweather’s defense.

Image: When Pretenders Step into the Ring: The Harsh Reality Check

Ah, and how could we forget the pièce de résistance of our era, the crown jewel of boxing novelties, none other than Jake Paul himself? Ah yes, the man, the myth, the meme. Jake has single-handedly turned boxing into his personal playground, where the line between a genuine fight and a circus act becomes blurrier with each “bout.”

His fights, if we’re being generous by calling them that, are a masterclass in social media hype over athletic merit. It’s like he’s playing a game of “Who can I fight next that will make the internet implode?” rather than challenging himself against seasoned boxers. Each event is less about the sport and more about Jake strutting around the ring like a peacock, his feathers adorned with dollar signs instead of eyes.

It’s clear that these crossovers are more about noise and less about the actual sport. While these MMA fighters and YouTube stars might be tough in their own arenas, stepping into the squared circle is a whole different ballgame. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight, except the knife is made of rubber.

So, to all the MMA fighters and YouTube “personalities” (stop making stupid people famous!) out there thinking about donning a pair of boxing gloves for a quick payday or some extra clicks, maybe just don’t.

Stick to what you know, and leave the sweet science to the professionals. After all, there’s a reason they call it the “art of boxing,” and last time we checked, art wasn’t about making a mockery of the canvas.