Bellator MMA welterweight star Michael ‘Venom’ Page took a cheeky little swipe at UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor during a press conference in London earlier this week.
It was announced in July that Page had signed with Hayemaker Ringstar and that he intended to attempt the difficult transition from the MMA cage to the boxing ring at some point before the end of 2017. On Wednesday, the new promotional outfit, which is the joint venture of heavyweight star David Haye and former Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, confirmed that Page’s first boxing bout will take place inside the Indigo venue at the O2 Arena on October 20th. His opponent, however, has yet to be announced.
Speaking to the assembled media at the presser, Page, who has sparred with top boxers like James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. in the past, said that he is ready to shift his focus from mixed combat to pure pugilism.
“I’ve always boxed. I’ve always felt comfortable boxing, but I had a different focus – I was focusing on my mixed martial arts,” stated the 30-year-old. “But now, it [is] the right time.
“I’m actually really looking forward to this opportunity. I think it’s landed at the right time. I haven’t stopped doing my mixed martial arts – a lot of people keep asking me [that]. But I’m excited for this transition(via FightHype).
“I’ve seen how not to do it, so I’m going to try and take note,” he added with a grin.
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The last comment was an obvious reference to the aforementioned McGregor’s recent boxing odyssey, which ended in a stoppage defeat to former pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. on August 26th in Las Vegas.
McGregor started the fight well, winning the first three rounds on the scorecards of most observers but Mayweather seemed to be allowing the Irishman to empty his gas tank somewhat. As the fight progressed, the MMA star slowed down and Mayweather came on strong, eventually drawing an intervention from referee Robert Byrd with a barrage of punches in the tenth round.
After the press conference, Page made it clear that he had actually been impressed by McGregor’s performance but indicated that he felt the 29-year-old Pay-per-view sensation simply didn’t have enough time to prepare for the rigours of a twelve-round boxing match.
“[The fight] went exactly how I thought it would go,” Page told iFL TV. “It’s different training and ten weeks isn’t long enough time – I don’t believe – to actually get the adequate muscular endurance.
“I don’t think that there is anything wrong with his boxing ability over two, three, four rounds. I think in the third round you started to see him huffing and puffing. And in the fourth round you saw it go. I think if he took his time and actually took boxing seriously, then he could do well because he has got amazing countering ability, amazing reflexes, good timing, good angles. I think he done very well for MMA. To even last ten rounds with arguably the best boxer of all time was amazing.”
“But it was a prize fight,” added Page. “It was for show. It was more like a circus entertainment act.”
Page’s plan, however, is very different to McGregor’s. He has a long-term plan and intends to build himself up slowly before jumping in with a big boxing name.
“While I’m focused on MMA, my boxing rounds are just to sharpen my hands,” said the Englishman, who is still under contract with Bellator and is expected to return to the cage in the future. “I’m not going twelve rounds with veteran boxers. So in four rounds, five rounds, six rounds, I’m an awkward person to spar. Deeper than that, nine times out of ten, the boxer is going to come back. But this is now my focus. Now I’m actually training to be there for twelve rounds and there is a difference. Now I’m going to be ‘MVP’ for twelve rounds.
“I feel ready enough to challenge [top level boxers] if we are going four rounds, if we’re going six rounds,” he added. “I have to be real to myself. If I’m not going in there for a big circus fight, then there is no reason for me to be going twelve rounds. I need to build myself up properly.”
“I am honest. In the MMA world I was exactly the same. I am honest about where I feel I’m at. [After] six rounds, I start to feel it and then it becomes survival from there. I can still fight, I still got my movement that allows me to avoid some big punches, but I’m not being me. So, I don’t want to be in there for six rounds against a top fighter and I’ve done amazing for six rounds and then for the next six rounds I’m surviving. That’s not the kind of fight I want to be in.
“I want to make that when I start challenging these big names it’s because I am comfortable with being me for twelve rounds straight. I can go in there smiling, moving around, landing shots for twelve rounds – not for six, not for five, not for four.
“So what I want to do is go in there now for six rounds, four rounds – whatever it is they are going to offer me. I’m not even sure what it is yet. But it’s the early stages. [I want to go in] a few times, get my body used to it, get the training behind me, get the endurance in my shoulders and then I start calling out the big names.”
With his unorthodox style and explosive power, it will be interesting to see how Page, who plans to compete as a super-middleweight, fairs in his boxing exploits.
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