With more former professional basketball and football players entering the combat sports space, it is harder to differentiate the real from the sideshow. With notable combat sports figures like Dana White claiming that boxing is “a broken business that is an absolute nightmare to try to fix,” the boxing business resembles a free-for-all.
Now even professional fighters are starting to cross that line.
When Chad Ochocinco fought on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul exhibition bout in Miami last summer, he probably didn’t think he would get called out later by a professional fighter.
The Boxing Clout Chase
However, recently, MMA fighter Chris Avila did just that, and he is looking to light a fire under Ocho.
“I think that’d be an exciting fight for people to watch,” Avila said to TMZ. “If he wants to fight a real fighter, he can box me. I don’t know if he’d accept it or maybe he wants to stick to fighting celebrities,” Avila continued. “But if he’s down to test his boxing skills, I’m down to fight him.”
Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson made his boxing debut in an exhibition that went the four-round distance against versatile pro fighter Brian Maxwell; not exactly a celebrity opponent. Perhaps Avila was alluding to Ocho’s only value to him?
However, the six-time Pro Bowl receiver did land some solid jabs and check hooks from a distance while avoiding severe damage from Maxwell over the first three rounds. Although he got knocked down in the fourth, he expressed how he hoped to inspire by stepping out of his comfort zone post-fight.
“My life has always been about taking chances and doing crazy stuff and this is just another one off my bucket list,” said Johnson in the post-fight press conference. “It’s a message for a lot of people who are scared to fail, scared to lose, scared to take chances to go out there and live. Don’t be scared to fail, it’s OK. I don’t box.”
However, the altruism Ocho attributed his fight to is not stopping Avila from looking to get his name up. Being a talented fighter for some is not enough anymore; now you need a name in sports or entertainment.
The Problem Child.
The 29-year-old fought in the UFC back in 2016. He is looking at August to jump back into a fight and wants a boxing scrap with Ochocinco on Jake Paul’s next card. Ironically, Avila’s last boxing match was on the undercard of the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight last December.
With YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul being the reigning organizer of unconventional bouts, Avila hopes his invitation will be considered for promotion by “The Problem Child.”
If Ocho is down, Avila could get his wish, as Paul is currently looking for a fight for former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis for his next bout in August. Paul has a television distribution deal with Showtime Sports.
Big Baby Boxing
Weighing over 300 pounds, reportedly, the 36-year-old Davis played in the NBA for nine seasons. He most recently played for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2014-15 season. Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions is looking for someone in the world of pro wrestling to fight Davis.
Although Jake Paul is starting to be considered an actual boxer-promoter, acting as the co-promoter last month for the Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano fight, he still understands how the shenanigans pave his lane.
But with athletes in other sports dabbling in the sweet science and fighters looking for a shot in the arm of popularity, boxing runs the risk of being misused and eventually diluted of its core appeal, technical mastery.