As Clay Collard prepares for his return to the boxing ring on Saturday night while simultaneously getting ready to participate in the upcoming PFL season, he’s dismayed at the attention being paid to YouTube celebrity Jake Paul and his list of high-profile call outs.
A former UFC fighter turned boxer, who competes on the Shakur Stevenson vs. Toka Kahn Clary card this weekend, always keeps a watchful eye on both sports he calls home. He was definitely excited to see Mike Tyson battle Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition bout but he wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic when it came to Paul serving as the co-main event against ex-NBA player Nate Robinson.
“It was awesome. Even as old as they were, you still saw glimpses of their younger days,” Collard told MMA Fighting about Tyson vs. Jones. “It was fun to watch but the whole Jake Paul fight was a joke. Now the guy’s running his mouth saying he wants to embarrass MMA fighters in the boxing ring. He ain’t fought nobody. He ain’t fought no prospects. He’s beaten up a couple bums and he thinks he’s hot sh*t and I think it’s a joke.
“I can’t wait until he gets in there with someone who is an actual boxer or an actual fighter, who has been training their whole life to do this, and they just smash him. To me, it’s just a joke.”
With more than 25 MMA fights under his belt as well as a 9-2-3 record as a professional boxer, Collard certainly has a better grasp on both sports than most.
He scoffs at Paul’s insistence that he would dismantle MMA fighters in the ring just because they’re not as experienced in boxing but if the 23-year-old influencer wants a real fight, Collard is game.
“If they’re going to pay me, I’d love to smash that guy’s face,” Collard said. “Just because I think he’s a joke. I don’t think he belongs in the ring. It’s just my opinion. He beat up an NBA guy and neither of them have a year’s boxing experience, if that. He’s a joke. The fact that he’s using his YouTube stardom or whatever to weasel his way into the sport when people have been working their whole life to make the money and be in the big show. It’s just embarrassing to me. It’s taking away from the realness of the sport. I think he’s a joke and if somebody wants me to beat him up, I’d do it for free honestly cause I don’t like that sh*t.
“Go back to making YouTube videos. Cause if you get in there with a real fighter, I promise you, you won’t be knocking out anybody.”
When it comes to real fighting, Collard has experienced plenty of that with his sixth boxing match of 2020 scheduled for Saturday night.
Collard was originally expected to compete on the undercard of the recent fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez but he tested positive for COVID-19 just days ahead of the event. He says ultimately he was asymptomatic when it came to the coronavirus so he suffered no real symptoms or illness but he still had to delay his return until now.
“I’m super excited that I’m able to wrap up the year and get another fight and in my opinion, another win,” Collard said. “I’m ready to go out there and do it.”
If all goes well on Saturday night, Collard would actually like to book one or two more boxing matches in early 2021 before he officially joins the PFL roster as he restarts his MMA career.
While his resume reads that he hasn’t competed in MMA since 2019, Collard promises that he’s never stopped training for the sport but his main attention has been paid to boxing. Now he’s ready to show how much he’s learned when competing as part of the PFL season kicking off next year.
“I’m very excited,” Collard said about coming back to MMA. “Like you said, never stopped training mixed martial arts. It’s always something I’ve been working at. I’m really excited to get in there and showcase my skills and hopefully bring home that belt. I’ll finally get to buy the backyard that my dogs deserve.
“I think as far as striking goes on the feet, boxing is king. As far as how much it’s helped me, it’s improved my game light years. Just my range is better. My eyes are better. My speed is better. My power’s better. All around, it’s only made me a better fighter. I plan on proving that in PFL.”
Collard exited the UFC in 2015 before putting together a 4-1 record outside the octagon in smaller, regional promotions.
With everything he’s learned from boxing coupled with continued training in MMA away from the watchful eye of the fans, he expects everybody to be surprised by his performances once he officially joins the PFL roster.
“I’m not even the same person,” Collard said. “I’m more mature mentally, physically. I believe my fight IQ is one of the best in the game. I’m just excited to go out there and show that I’m still here and let everybody know that I’m a force to be reckoned with.”