Junior dos Santos | UFC's Champ vs the Klitchkos in Boxing?
Junior dos Santos, UFC's heavyweight champion and top-rated mixed martial artist in the same division, believes he'd be ready for a ring battle against either of the Klitchkos after only three months of training.
The popular 6'4" (1.93 m) Brazilian won UFC's most coveted title in November by knocking out Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds. Velasquez was dropped by an overhand right and the bout was stopped soon thereafter.
Junior dos Santos (15-1 in mixed martial arts), who recently defeated former UFC top gun Frank Mir at UFC 146, told Tatame.com last year of his intentions to box in the 2016 Olympics which will be held in Rio de Janeiro.
"My trainings begin and end with boxing. There are dynamics and strategies I'm already used to. But I'll test myself, it's inevitable," dos Santos said. "Who knows, [maybe] I get an Olympic medal. Everything's possible."
Competing as an amateur boxer in the Olympics would be a formidable, if not impressive, accomplishment for UFC's heavyweight champ. But competing as a boxer against the sport's most dominant professional heavyweights is an altogether different matter and its unlikely any commission would sanction such a mismatch.
Earlier this year, the UFC champ told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, "I was thinking about boxing, you know... [But] My main objective is to keep my belt. I already love who I am as an MMA fighter but I wanna have a boxing fight one day.... I'm a boxing guy. This (a bout with a Klitschko brother) would be a good challenge for me and a good experience..."
When asked if he could hang with the Klitschko brothers in the ring, dos Santos replied, "Give me three months of preparation and I could fight with anyone in the world... boxing or MMA."
Courtesy of Sherdog.com
Taking nothing away from dos Santos, he's an excellent striker by mixed martial arts (MMA) standards but woefully lacks the poise, technique and experience to compete with polished, top-level heavyweight boxers after just three months of training... and possibly several years.
Most professional boxing trainers would assert dos Santo's chances against a top heavyweight boxer are laughable. A more realistic question would be: Can Junior dos Santos compete with boxing's world class amateurs on the Olympic level?
Junior is nimble for his size, possesses good speed and punching power (at least by MMA standards) and is very athletic so it would be interesting to see how far he could go in amateur boxing. But as long as dos Santos is contractually under the UFC banner, chances are minimal, at best, he'll be allowed to compete as a boxer anytime soon - amateur or pro.
Most boxing insiders believe UFC president Dana White is too smart to allow any of his fighters to partake in boxing with accomplished pugilists. After all, witnessing UFC stars like Junior dos Santos and Anderson Silva get annihilated by amateur boxers or journeyman pros, in a boxing match, would likely expose his fighters' vulnerabilities in stand-up striking and seemingly do little to further UFC's image.
If MMA has truly conquered boxing as the world's most popular combat sport as some MMA fans believe, why do so many elite-level mixed martial artists want to box?
Perhaps boxing is still the world's most popular combat sport as income and international acclaim for its top pugilists far exceed the revenue and individual fanfare generated by their MMA peers.
Main photo from Sherdog.com