LAS VEGAS — Clay Collard still considers himself a mixed martial artist, but he’s enjoying himself as a boxer while the coronavirus pandemic rages.
A former UFC fighter, Collard is signed to a deal with the Professional Fighters League, which in April canceled its 2020 season as a result of the pandemic.
Collard, a wrestler in high school, has boxed off and on to keep his hands sharp. And with no way to compete in MMA, he jumped on the opportunity Top Rank provided him.
He scored a split decision over previously unbeaten prospect David Kaminsky on June 18 in a fight in which he was expected to be little more than cannon fodder. He’ll return to action at the MGM Grand Conference Center in the Top Rank bubble on July 14 when he fights LT “Smash” Nelson.
“I just love to compete and when I am competing more frequently, I stay sharper and I perform better,” Collard said. “I just don’t like those long layoffs and getting to compete here and there. I think this is going to help me [in MMA] tremendously.”
Collard will bring a 7-2-3 boxing record with two knockouts into his next fight. And while that won’t conjure up thoughts of Floyd Mayweather, Collard hasn’t been fighting a bunch of tomato cans.
In his 12 pro boxing matches, he’s faced nine unbeaten fighters (including one who was making his pro debut). None of his opponents had more than one loss and the combined record of the 12 men he’s faced was 65-3.
That wasn’t by accident, Collard said.
“I like taking tough fights, even though I know it’s going to be a challenge,” Collard said. “That’s the route we took, fighting all those unbeaten guys and good fighters. Everybody’s always fighting sandbags and I just wanted to bring it to boxing that I’d take on the toughest, youngest prospects coming up.
“When you think about it, it winds up helping me. Yeah, I have a couple of losses, but fighting these kinds of guys has gotten me more notice and when I do win, it looks better for me than if I beat someone anyone could beat.”
He had a long amateur background as a boxer and fought more than 100 times before turning pro. Collard, who is 18-8 overall in MMA with a 1-3 mark in the UFC that includes a loss to one-time featherweight champion Max Holloway, knows that he’s often overlooked because he’s not solely a boxer.
But he said he never shortchanges himself.
“You hear all this about A-side and B-side and while a lot of people say I’ve been the B-side, that’s their opinion,” Collard said. “In my mind, I have been the A-side every time. I go in there to win. When we fought [Kaminsky], we heard about everyone talking how he was going to be this big thing and all of that, but we believed in ourselves. My coach [Ryan Ault] told me he thought I was the A-side and so did I. I didn’t go there looking to give him rounds or give him work. I went there to win. Sooner or later, they’ll realize I’m an A-side guy, too.”
Takam takes the spot
Top Rank has reached a deal for heavyweight Carlos Takam to replace Jarrell Miller on Thursday in a fight against intriguing prospect Jerry “Slugger” Forrest.
Miller failed an anti-doping test — shocking, I know — and was replaced by Takam, who fought Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight title in 2017.
Takam is a slight -135 favorite at the MGM Grand Sports Book. Forrest, who is listed as “Jerry Foster” on the “BetMGM” app, is +115.
Promoter Lou DiBella has been high on Forrest since seeing him lose a controversial decision on ShoBox in 2019 to Jermaine Franklin. DiBella signed Forrest earlier this year.
“I think that Jerry has a great chance to win and make a statement,” DiBella told Yahoo Sports. “I understand that he’s an underdog, and Takam clearly has the more impressive résumé, but Jerry is younger, busier in the ring, talented and hungry. Takam is 39 years old and on the tail end of his career. This is a definitive heavyweight crossroads fight.”
Garcia may be back
The WBC ordered an interim lightweight title fight between unbeaten hot prospect Ryan Garcia and former champion Luke Campbell. There was doubt whether that would ever happen because Garcia was at a contract impasse with Golden Boy Promotions.
But Garcia accepted the order and now the promoters have to work out a deal.
Garcia has been vocal about facing the best in the division and while Campbell is a cut below lightweights like Vasiliy Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis, he’s a big step up for Garcia.
Hopefully the fight is made, though it’s far from done yet.
The WBO on Monday ordered an eliminator between Garcia and Emmanuel Tagoe, but that will go by the wayside now.
Please no, Sergio
Former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, one of the classiest men in the sport in a career that ended in 2014 with a 51-3-2 record and 28 knockouts, has announced his intention to make a comeback.
Now 45, Martinez said he’ll fight Jose Miguel Fandino on Aug. 21 in Spain.
Nothing good can come of this. Martinez isn’t going to get anywhere near a title shot and boxing needs fewer, not more, 40-somethings taking punches to the head.
He said it
“The remote judging system does not pretend to challenge boxing structure. It is not a threat to boxing judges and their performance at ringside. It is simply an alternative that can be used at these difficult moments. However, it is bringing a series of very positive alternatives for boxing. To have six, eight or as many professional certified officials judge remotely is bringing a wide new wonder to the administration of our sport. It is a fact that the more judges officiate an event, the less possibility of a wrong decision, period. It is also a possible fun feature for fans during a broadcast.” — WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman on his organization experimenting with judges scoring fights in a TV studio and/or at home via television.
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