(Video courtesy of YouTube/sugarrayhatton)
If you saw the movie “The Fighter” with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, you know who “Irish” Mickey Ward is. To the rest of us, he’s a former boxer who put in perhaps the best single round in boxing history against the late Arturro Gatti.
In an interview he recently did with East Side Boxing, Ward spoke about the influx of boxers crossing over to fight in MMA.
“I don’t really think that boxing needs saving, but [Mayweather fighting Pacquiao] would bring back a lot of people to the sport. I think it would bring a lot of interest back to boxing. I don’t think that boxing will ever go anywhere, because it’s the oldest sport there is. But there are a lot of people going to the MMA side,” Ward says. “You know what we need? We need the best fighters to fight the best fighters, and that way boxing would go back to where it was in the 70’s. Look at Bernard Hopkins; he will fight anyone in the world. He is the exception to the age rule. He is incredible.”
Ward, who is in the early stages of production for “The Fighter 2″ says that boxing fans have also started to gravitate towards MMA because boxing is getting stale due to it’s lack of action and mismatches.
“I kind of believe [that fans are leaving boxing for MMA]. I see it actually happening. There are more fights and more action,” Ward admits. “That’s why you have to have the best fighting the best. It’s all money, money and money. It’s positioning.”
It’s refreshing to hear a former boxer admit what’s happening, rather than deny it like some do. Bernard Hopkins used to be one of the most outspoken opposers of mixed martial arts in boxing, but training with some MMA fighters at his gym in Philly (and likely getting taken down and tapped out) has opened his mind.
He gave Gil Martinez an analogy that sums up the difference in the two sports perfectly and respectfully:
“You cannot take a shark out of the water and throw him in the jungle versus a lion. He will be destroyed. And if you put a lion in the water versus a shark, the lion will be destroyed,” Hopkins explained. “Just like boxing and MMA – they are two totally different animals. We need to remember that.”