While some boxing traditionalists have shunned MMA as the wicked stepchild of combat sports, there are more and more pugilists coming out in support of it.
Current WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was resistant to MMA when he first watched, but as time passed he couldn’t help but become a fan of the athleticism and skill involved.
“I wasn’t such in Russia when I watched it live the first time, and to be honest I didn’t really like it before. But when I was watching it, I got into the style of MMA and I think I have a lot of respect for MMA fighters. It’s a very tough sport. I don’t think I’m ready to practice it and fight in the cage, I think I’m too old for it, but I have a lot of respect,” Klitschko told the Jim Rome Show recently.
MMA incorporates a lot of different art forms into one sport, and that’s what Klitschko learned to appreciate about it. He knows it’s not easy to pick up one technique, much less the dozens that MMA fighters routinely learn and eventually master.
“Because you have to have a lot of abilities. You have to be so multi-functional, you have to be a wrestler, you have to be a good kickboxer, you have to be a good boxer, you have to be with good condition. We can go forever what they have to be to keep winning for a long time and be a champion, consistent champions, it’s very difficult,” Klitschko stated.
While there have been a few crossovers between MMA and boxing through the years, don’t expect Klitschko to become one of them. He’s firmly cemented in the boxing world as a multi-time champion taking home multi-million dollar paydays, so he’s not going anywhere.
What Klitschko might do, however, is learn to incorporate MMA into his workout routine, and maybe pick up a few new techniques along the way.
“I don’t want to fight, but I want to try,” Klitschko said. “I want to try the fitness. Just get in an MMA gym and just practice certain things. I used to wrestle, and I did judo when I was younger. As training, as fitness, perfect. Fighting, no.”
Klitschko next competes on March 3 in Germany against Jean-Marc Mormeck.