Though Conor McGregor is keen on a return to boxing following the Floyd Mayweather fight, he has requested that a boxer step into his domain of MMA.
Now having endured his baptism of fire against one of boxing’s very best in August, McGregor wants the likes of Paulie Malignaggi to reciprocate if they want the much vaunted pay-day.
“Ideally I would like to take one of the boxers into an MMA bout – someone come into my world now,” he told the BBC earlier this month.
“I went into their platform and faced the so-called best-of-the-best and I handled him pretty easily in the early rounds, before I got fatigued and got stopped.”
While the likes of Amir Khan have expressed tentative interest in facing the UFC lightweight champion on his turf, it’s been seen as a money fight rather than a competitive contest.
One man who genuinely believes he would “shock the world” however is former IBF welterweight champion, Kermit Cintron.
Cintron, who has fought the likes of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Antonio Margarito, spoke to SecondsOut.com about a potential crossover bout. Despite his 17 year career in the ring, a background in wrestling gives the Puerto Rican hope that he wouldn’t be out of his depth.
“McGregor is now looking for a boxer to challenge him in his own sport, his own turf. I personally don’t know any boxer that would step into the octagon and challenge an MMA fighter. With a background in wrestling, which I was pretty damn good at, and my boxing background, I believe I would challenge McGregor.
“He wants to defend his title against a boxer? I will step in and challenge him. Give me the opportunity and I will shock the world.”
That wrestling background informed the view of Mike Sloan of Sherdog that Cintron would have “torn most of the lower weight divisions asunder” in MMA had he opted for the cage at the beginning of his career.
“He would have been a top contender in MMA,” Sloan writes.
“Cintron wrestled in high school, and his accomplishments in that sport allowed him to compete at a respectable level in college. No, he was not an NCAA All-American, but he was good enough on the mat to hold his own.
Couple that with a ferocious banging style that gave birth to dozens of highlight-reel knockouts, and what we have is a dynamic combination that would have given MMA contenders all sorts of trouble.
To his credit, Cintron has long harboured a crack at the UFC’s best. In 2007, when the dispute between MMA and boxing was heating up, he was ready to face then-UFC lightweight king, Sean Sherk, for the $2m on offer to Floyd Mayweather to do so.
As that 2007 ‘The Sweet Science’ piece acknowledges though, Cintron’s belief belies the fact that his boxing and wrestling prowess doesn’t encompass kicks, knees, elbows, and jiu-jitsu – a component just as important to grappling as wrestling.