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Top 10 boxers to compete in MMA

James Toney vs Randy Couture
Credit: UFC 118 live broadcast

Without a doubt, the most publicised crossover in combat Sports took place last August as Conor McGregor stepped into the boxing ring, where he lost against the undefeated Floyd Mayweather.

Since then, there have been rumours suggesting that Mayweather, who is retired from boxing, could be set to soon step into the UFC Octagon, possibly in a limited-rules rematch against McGregor.

Such a match would be fitting, as both men made big money from their boxing contest, and it would be hard to see them turning down a second fight if they could pocket anywhere near a similar amount of cash.

Should Mayweather complete the crossover, he will not be the first boxer to do so. Today, we look ten boxers who paved the way by crossing over and competing in MMA.

10. Mike Bernardo

The late Bernardo had a boxing record of 11-1-1 and won the World Boxing Federation world heavyweight title in the final match of his career. Six months after retiring from boxing, he competed in his one and only MMA fight, against Nobuhiko Takada at Inoki-Bom-Ba-Ye in 2001. The match ended in a draw.

9. Milo Savage

In what many consider to be the first MMA fight of all time, Milo Savage, then a top-ranked boxer, took on ‘’Judo’’ Gene LeBell in December 1963.

During the fourth round, LeBell performed a left harai-goshi and followed it up by locking in a rear naked choke. Just seconds later, Savage was out cold and Lebell was declared the winner.

8. Holly Holm

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During her 11-year boxing career, Holm won 18 championships across eight different weight classes. The 36-year-old Holm also has kickboxing experience and her standup skills made her a force to be reckoned with when she debuted in MMA in 2011.

‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ famously knocked out Ronda Rousey to claim the UFC women’s bantamweight championship in 2015, and is 11-4 overall in her MMA tenure.

7. Art Jimmerson

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Infamously wearing one glove, Jimmerson faced off against Royce Gracie at UFC 1 in 1993. Unfortunately for Jimmerson, it was soon apparent that he was not adept at dealing with grappling techniques. After just two minutes, Gracie forced Jimmenson into submission.

6. Erin Toughill

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Former American Gladiator, kickboxer and BJJ practitioner Toughill had lost only once in her boxing career until she took on Laila Ali in 2005. After falling to a TKO defeat and retiring from the sport two years later, Toughill turned her full attention to MMA, where she was able to carve out a 10-3-1 record. She retired from combat sports in 2011.

5. Ricardo Mayorga

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During his time in boxing, Mayorga was a respected fighter and a former holder of the WBA, WBC, Ring Magazine and lineal welterweight titles; he also held the WBC super welterweight title from 2005-2006. He has a less than successful MMA record, however, which stood at 0-3 with one no contest.

4. Kimbo Slice

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After initially finding fame through the internet, street fighter Kimbo Slice rose to prominence in MMA with a spell in Elite XC and his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter.

Although he suffered embarrassing losses against the likes of Seth Petruzelli and Matt Mitrione, Slice boasted a decent MMA record of five wins from eight fights, as well as a professional boxing record of 7-0, before he passed away in June 2016, aged 42.

3. Ray Mercer

An amateur starlet, Mercer won gold in boxing at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. He went on to have a successful career in professional boxing, where he held a record of 36-7-1 and boasted the IBF inter-continental, NABF and WBO heavyweight championships amongst his accomplishments.

Mercer initially tried his luck at kickboxing in K-1 and tasted defeat at the hands of Musashi and Remy Bonjasky, before infamously knocking out former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in his sole MMA fight in 2009.

2. James Toney

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Toney is regarded as one of the best boxers of his generation, having held IBF titles at middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight. He also defeated John Ruiz in a WBA world heavyweight title match, but the result was overturned to a no contest after Toney failed a drugs test.

As a result of his confidence, he managed to smooth-talk Dana White into giving him an opportunity to compete in the UFC in 2010 despite having had no MMA experience whatsoever.

Toney competed just once in the UFC, with his sole match coming against former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture. As was expected by many UFC pundits, Couture made light work of the fight as he quickly took Toney to the ground with an ankle pick and submitted him during the first round.

1. Muhammad Ali

The legendary Ali took on pro wrestling luminary Inoki in a fight under special rules in 1973 in Tokyo, Japan. The contest was largely viewed as a publicity stunt and for the majority of the fight, Inoki simply laid on his back, kicking at Ali’s legs. The result was ultimately declared a draw.

With MMA increasing in popularity at a meteoric rate in recent years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a professional boxer who hasn’t talked up their chances of competing against the UFC’s elite. But who will be the next star to crossover between combat sports?

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