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Boxing and mixed martial arts are often portrayed as bitter rivals, as in the above debate between UFC announcer Joe Rogan and boxing promoter Lou DiBella. But the boxer Roy Jones Jr., who decided to put some MMA fights on the undercard of his own upcoming boxing match with Omar Sheika on Saturday night, has a very different view of the relationship between boxing and MMA.
When I interviewed Jones about his upcoming March Badness event, he said he was thrilled at the opportunity to promote boxing and MMA on the same card.
"People are always trying to separate the two and make it a big rivalry," Jones said of MMA and boxing. "Why does it have to be a rivalry? Why would one have to be better than the other? You can have your own personal preference, but mixed martial arts is what it is and boxing is what it is and they're not against each other. They're still two forms of fighting man to man. If you like one you've got to like the other one. There's no reason to like one and not like the other one. And if you're going to do either one, you should try to learn things from the other one."
I think Jones basically gets it right, and I find it baffling that some people think there's an either-or proposition for fans, that you have to choose to enjoy either boxing or MMA. There are some in the boxing world (like DiBella in the above video) who feel the need to denigrate MMA, but Jones isn't in that camp at all. I'm not sure that boxing/MMA co-promotions are really going to catch on, but I'm glad Jones is giving it a try and attaching his well-regarded name to the idea.
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