Baseball & Boxing, What Are The Chances?
Tomorrow Night in Tampa, FL, Jake Paul, who made his name across the platform YouTube, is set to fight former UFC Welterweight Champion, Tyron Woodley, in a rematch where Paul was able to knock down Woodley in the first bout. However, looking lower at the card there is two men, NFL RB Frank Gore and NBA All-Star Derron Williams, who have never boxed, made their names outside of the squared ring, and raises the question, can we or even could we, see a Baseball player, whether retired or currently playing, participate in a boxing match. You would think that it would be crazy thinking, but the way that the boxing landscape has changed and sometimes how tense and physical baseball can get, it’s not too far-fetched.
Over the last couple of years, boxing has become an open sport, and Jake Paul has been one of the key contributors when it comes to outsiders taking part. We have seen UFC fighters, non-fighting athletes, and even just social media personalities, with many of them succeeding in the process. These dream-like fights that have been made has created some tension among fans, as some fans believe that having a non-traditional boxer fighting a traditional or even in some cases, another non-traditional boxer, puts a bad light on the sport. However, what we have seen is not only an influx of media attention among the sport, but also the creation of actual talent in the sport as well, from the unlikeliest of individuals. Just to talk numbers alone, the Logan Paul, who is Jake’s brother, and Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s fight back in May of this year was able to rack in $50 million dollars in sales, which is truly a remarkable number, being that fight was held on a Sunday night. Just that stat alone shows the success that these dream bouts have been able to produce and with Frank Gore and Derron Williams fighting tomorrow night in their first boxing match ever, it proves that there is a want and a desire for one-off matches like these.
This goes into the question about the likelihood of seeing a baseball player boxing in the future. Obviously, if the tape hasn’t shown before, baseball players can throw hands if needed. One of the most iconic brawls has to be in Boston, when the Tampa Bay Rays visited the Red Sox in June of 2008, the year of the Rays 1st World Series run, where Coco Crisp, James Shields and both team’s dugouts ran out onto the field after Shields hit Crisp and battled in Fenway in a brawl that featured many haymakers. Another that comes to mind that was a personal rivalry, just like in boxing, is Hunter Strickland, who at the time was with San Francisco, and the reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, who was with the Nationals. The heated battle between Harper and Strickland on Memorial Day was brutal and Harper went guns a blazing after Harper was hit by Strickland’s pitch that day. While baseball has seen its fair share of boxing-like moments, the closest it may have gotten for a player fighting to become reality was in 2020, as Marcus Stroman, who signed a 3-year, $71 mil. deal with the Cubs just this offseason, challenged 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson to a UFC match after Larson made some choice words over a Twitch stream. The entire challenge went as far as to a Sportsbook actually releasing odds for the improbable fight.
If a baseball player were to ever step inside a boxing ring, it will be someone who is most likely retired. A few players that could make for some compelling fights would be Jose Bautista, AJ Pierzynski, or Josh Hamilton, with all of them having baseball brawling experience. As fans of the game, it would be a treat to see players going away from the sport and into a physically draining sport like boxing, however the possibility though of seeing a guy like Bryce Harper taking part of a boxing match could be unlikely. While, having a current top player from the MLB going in for a one-off boxing match could create media attention not only for the league, but also the player and team, the tricky part is some of the red flags that can be raised, which can include, having the possibility of a “bad look” occurring for the player and organization, when it comes to the fight buildup, and let alone, just the risk of health & injury for the contracted player. If a current player were to get in the ring, if ever, it would most likely have to occur in the offseason, however if the fight were to occur and the player were to be injured in the process, that could greatly damage a player’s career, free agency opportunities or even just being able to play for the club in the upcoming season. While this is just hypothetical, it is most likely bleak you will see someone like Harper or Stroman fight while still currently playing, so don’t get your hopes up. But a former player coming into the mix is likely. Now that there has been the influx of fighters from outside the realm of the sport and how baseball has been able to produce scrappy players over the years, I think a Baseball Player vs. Boxer match could occur. With just the payouts alone that guys can make from a one-off, it could attract players who want to give it a shot and have nothing to lose out of it. The money may not be as important to the ball players due to how much players have made over the last 20 years, but I think that the real possibility of a Baseball vs. Boxing Showdown is on the horizon.