UFC champion Kamaru Usman vows to stop Canelo Alvarez should they meet in crossover bout

Boxing match between respective sports' pound-for-pound No 1s has been mooted for later this year

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UFC pound-for-pound No 1 Kamaru Usman says he would stop boxing counterpart Saul "Canelo" Alvarez should the two face-off in a crossover boxing bout, a fight he thinks will happen in the near future.

The UFC welterweight champion, 15-0 in the world’s lead mixed martial arts promotion, has been tipped to make a temporary move into boxing later this year to take on Alvarez.

Usman, 34, has held the welterweight belt for three years, with five successful defences in that time – including once in Abu Dhabi, in July 2020 – lifting him to the top of the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Alvarez, meanwhile, sits atop the boxing equivalent having reigned supreme at super middleweight to become the division’s undisputed champion.

Last week, Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz claimed the Nigerian would knock out Alvarez inside three rounds, while also saying “all these boxers are cowards because none of them want to come to MMA”.

Speaking on Sunday to US outlet MMA Junkie, Usman said of the possible money-spinner against Alvarez: “Absolutely. Why wouldn’t it be a possibility? He said it himself. Pound-for-pound versus pound-for-pound. And what Ali meant in that is, they expect us to go over there. We’re real fighters. What would happen if me and him was out in the street?

“We’re real fighters and they expect us to come in and participate in their sport, their art. That’s why Ali said that. But, at the end of the day, I’m willing to step in there. I’ve got the [courage] to step in there.

“So it is what it is. But I do think that fight 100 percent needs to happen? The pound-for-pound versus the pound-for-pound: everyone says it can’t be done until they see it done. I’ve said it before, I will stop him.”

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Although boxing-MMA crossovers have become increasingly more popular, the most recent truly transcendent event took place in 2017, when former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor stepped into the ring to fight boxing great Floyd Mayweather.

Mayweather, seeking then to retire undefeated as a professional at 50-0, comfortably dispatched McGregor with a 10th round TKO.

“That’s the thing – we’re coming to entertain,” Usman said. “The Mayweather-McGregor, they entertained people with the way they talked and the way they walked. And we know Conor, the way he entertains, and so does Floyd. I get that.

“But Floyd is the absolute best defensive boxer we’ve ever seen, even though he took a very different approach in that fight. That was still that type of fight.

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“I’m a fighter, I’m going to come to fight. I’m always marching forward to fight and so is Canelo Alvarez. He marches forward to fight. He’s not just going to sit there and try to dodge punches all the time. He does doge punches, but he’s not trying to do only that and make it a defensive fight.

“And it’s not just that, we’re both the pound-for-pound best at the top of the sport right now. That’s never been done. It would be the greatest event in history and, of course, with [UFC president] Dana White behind me.”

On convincing White to green-light the Alvarez bout, Usman said: “Me and Dana haven’t talked about it, but it’s a fight that I want if Canelo wants to fight, and he said that’s he’s not opposed to the fight, then we’ll make the fight happen.

“It’s not too difficult. Dana White is the best promoter of the game for a reason. I think we can make that fight.”

Updated: March 14, 2022, 7:31 AM