Alongside the rise of celebrity boxing, combat sports over the last half decade have seen an increasing interest in seeing MMA fighters take their skills from the cage to the ring. After all, there may not be much fun or novelty in seeing a pro boxer who has never grappled a day in their life try to fight their way out of full mount, but there’s still some lasting curiosity around seeing a ‘lifelong martial artist’ try their hand in a set of 10oz gloves.
The past few years have seen legends like Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva, Anthony Pettis, and even Tito Ortiz all test their pugilistic mettle. Some to surprisingly impressive results, others to appalling failure. It’s also seen a few fighters pursue absolute pipe dreams.
Anyone remember when Kamaru Usman was talking about fighting Canelo Alvarez? Or what about when Cain Velasquez was chirping at Tyson Fury? Or what about Francis Ngannou, and that nonsense he was talking about with fighting Fur… oh, wait.
Sean O’Malley wants Gervonta Davis
After beating Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292, and winning the bantamweight title in the process, ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley revealed that he had some big plans out ahead of him now that he’s champion. Most notably, he wants to follow in the footsteps of Conor McGregor and get a massive boxing crossover fight. And Gervonta Davis is the man he’s chosen as his target. It’s a fight O’Malley has been chasing for some time.
“And then I do think, in the future, Gervonta Davis sounds like a big fight for me,” O’Malley explained back in 2022. “I would love to go over to the boxing world,” he said. “I know people love it, they hate it, they don’t want to talk about it. ‘MMA never beats boxers.’ But I’m in the entertainment business and I believe in my skills.
“I truly think that in four or five years, that if I’m double-champ, or if I’ve been the bantamweight, been the featherweight champ, and Gervonta Davis is still a superstar, there’s no reason I can’t go over there and perform for the fans in boxing and put his lights out, too and become the biggest combat sports athlete in the world.”
A complete pipe dream? A fantasy fight with no grounding in reality? A super fight that absolutely nobody asked for or needs to see happen? All these things may be true, but that hasn’t stopped the discourse from reaching Davis’ camp.
Gervonta Davis’ coach responds to Sean O’Malley
It wasn’t enough that recent Gervonta Davis opponent Ryan Garcia tried to warn Sean O’Malley away from his foolish course of action, Davis’ coach, Kenny Ellis has issued his own dire prediction. Boxing reporter Elie Seckbach recently caught up with Ellis for an impromptu interview, and got his thoughts on O’Malley.
“Tank would whoop his ass, first round,” Ellis said, although clearly barely familiar with who O’Malley even was (transcript via MMA Fighting). “S—t, any top lightweight would beat him: Tank, Shakur, Haney, all them guys would beat him, [because] they’re boxers. All of them would knock him out.”
“He’s not a boxer, he doesn’t have professional punches. He’s an MMA fighter, they don’t perfect punches like boxers.”
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for O’Malley to respond to that claim, via social media.
Sure, it’s a fine dunk from the MMA Lab talent. Davis is, in fact 5′ 5.5″ (the kind of exacting height measurement that only the vertically challenged would necessitate). But, it also necessitates the question, if O’Malley doesn’t think Davis is big enough to hurt him, why call him out? It’s clearly all bravado from the MMA side of things, he can’t beat Tank Davis, and nobody in their right mind thinks he can. Not even Sean O’Malley. It’s pure bluster made only for the social media era of trash talk.
Sean O’Malley and Tank Davis are never going to fight
The fine folks over at Bad Left Hook weren’t any kinder about Sean O’Malley’s chances of besting Davis inside the ring, but they had a notable charitable view of the UFC’s business model and their openness to a fight like this one.
Yes. If the money is there, and if UFC and PBC can work it out, then the fight can be made. O’Malley seems to really want it, and it’s not like Tank or his team have ever been averse to disappointing diehard boxing fans with matchups, in part because Davis can sell a fight very easily without worry all that much about diehard boxing fans. Add in a curious UFC fan base, and you have a blockbuster in the making.
It’s been so long since Conor McGregor was anything like the remarkable force he once was inside the Octagon, that many may have forgotten that the UFC had to be dragged into the Mayweather/McGregor bout kicking and screaming. They did everything they possibly could to shoot down, ignore, and stamp out interest in the fight, before McGregor’s persistent negotiations with Mayweather and his willingness to get licensed to box forced their hand.
Even after making a ton of money, the UFC has shown absolutely zero interest in cross-promoting their stars as boxing attractions. The world’s largest MMA promotion would rather walk away from the bargaining table with Francis Ngannou than let him fight Tyson Fury. A bout many felt had no chance of getting made was, in fact, quite clearly right there on the table and will take place this October 28th with the blessings of the PFL.
Sean O’Malley can talk up his desire for a fight with Davis. Enough even that Davis could get interested in making it happen. But unless O’Malley is interested in leaving the UFC, everything he has to say about the fight will just be idle chatter.
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