Last week, top heavyweight Dereck Chisora announced his intention to cross over into MMA, to the applause of nobody.
Dereck Chisora is one of the baddest men on the planet, in the boxing ring that is. Chisora is one of the top-ranked heavyweights in the world and has been in the ring with a who’s who of the boxing world. Having faced the likes of Dillian Whyte, David Haye, Tyson Fury, and Vitali Klitschko, Chisora is one of the top heavyweight draws in the sport. However, Chisora announced last week that he was intending to cross over into Bellator MMA if his anticipated bout against former cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk doesn’t happen by July.
The announcement was met with little to no response. Whether it is due to current world events unfolding at the moment, or the constant teasing by boxing and MMA stars that they will cross over into the opposite sport, nobody seemed to care about Chisora’s announcement. The bout would likely be a one-off for Chisora if it did happen, as he is already 36 years old and would make significantly more money in boxing. However, Chisora isn’t the only boxing star to have his announcement into MMA have a lukewarm response.
We’re not talking fights like James Toney taking on Randy Couture here, or even something like Ray Mercer vs. Tim Sylvia. We’re talking about former boxing stars who attempted to crossover into MMA and had nobody care. With that being said, here are a few of boxing’s most interesting crossovers into MMA.
Tommy Morrison (48-3-1 Boxing, 1-0 AMMA)
Tommy Morrison is one of the most tragic stories in boxing. Morrison was a former heavyweight champion who at one point was one of the brightest prospects during the 90s heavyweight boxing scene. Morrison would make good on his prospect status in 1993, as he would defeat George Foreman to become the WBO heavyweight champion. Morrison would lose that belt two fights later, but would still be a popular fighter in the 90s. However prior to a fight against Arthur Weathers in 1996, Morrison would test positive for HIV, and his combat sports career was effectively over.
Morrison would go into the shadows for over a decade, but in 2006 Morrison attempted to make a return to the ring. Claiming that his positive test was a false positive, Morrison went around the world attempting to get any athletic commission to license him. Morrison would return to the ring twice after testing positive in 1996, winning both fights, John Castle and Matt Weishaar in 2006, and 2008 respectively. However sandwiched into those two bouts was an amateur MMA bout in 2007.
Finding information on the fight is like attempting to get blood from a stone, but what is known about the bout is that it was little more than a boxing match in MMA gloves. Opponent John Stover was reportedly told before the bout by the promoter that there would be no grappling, knees, or kicks. Morrison would quickly get the knockout victory at 2:08 of the first round, breaking Stover’s nose in the process. According to reports of the fight, Morrison would be rained down with boo’s in the aftermath, and would never fight in MMA again.
Morrison would sadly pass away in 2013 due to cardiac arrest, septic shock, and multi-system organ failure. According to his widow, he tested negative for HIV during his autopsy.
Ricardo Mayorga (32-12-1 (1) Boxing, 0-3 (1) MMA)
Ricardo Mayorga is probably one of the wildest men in the long illustrious history of boxing. Mayorga’s record may not impress, with a not extremely stellar 32-12-1 record. However, once you look into the Nicaraguan’s record, you see that he fought basically every big name he could in the early 2000s. He battled the likes of Vernon Forrest, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, and more. Mayorga was one of the biggest heels in boxing, having used his brash trash talk and fun fighting style to get many big paydays throughout his career. However, years after his prime, Mayorga ventured into the world of MMA.
Mayorga had once been scheduled to fight in 2010 against UFC veteran Din Thomas, but that fell through. Mayorga’s first official MMA fight was for the Nicaraguan promotion Omega MMA in 2013, Mayorga would secure a second-round TKO victory against Wesley Tiffer. However, the bout would be overturned after the commission saw that the blow that led to the stoppage was an illegal knee to the spine. Mayorga’s next fight would be in the main event of World Series of Fighting 1: Central America.
Mayorga would find himself submitted by Rene Martinez in the first round, foreshadowing exactly what he would be doing for the rest of his MMA career, losing. Mayorga would next lose a close split-decision to Sergio Ortiz in Costa Rica, he would get another crack at Ortiz in his next fight at WSOF 2: Central America. He would again lose via submission, which turned out to be the final bout of his MMA career.
As of 2020, Mayorga has yet to retire in the sport of boxing. His last fight was in 2019 against the debuting Lester Martinez; he was dominated and stopped in the second round.
Butterbean (77-10-4 Boxing, 17-10-1 MMA)
Eric “Butterbean” Esch will forever be one of the greatest characters to come out of the world of boxing. Standing five feet, eleven inches, and weighing anywhere from 300 to 400 pounds, Butterbean rose to popularity in the 90s for being a small, portly man who loved to knock dudes out. Esch had quickly earned a 66-3-4 record along with being the IBA Super Heavyweight champion of the world heading into 2004. Esch’s biggest moment came the year prior, as he faced one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time in Larry Holmes, with the two going the distance, and Esch knocking the former champion down in the final round.
However, just before the beginning of 2004 Esch signed on to fight in K-1. He would face the smaller Genki Sudo and lose via second-round submission. This part of the story is known. Many remember Esch’s fight against Sudo and his quick loss against his smaller foe. What many forget, is that Esch stayed committed to MMA for over a decade. Esch would rebound from the loss to Sudo to go unbeaten over his next seven fights. The streak earned him a shot in PRIDE Fighting Championships. Esch would face the popular fighter Minowman in his first outing and would lose via submission.
After the loss, Butterbean continued to fight consistently in MMA and boxing. He would knock out Sean O’Haire (of WWE fame) in his next fight, and despite losing to Rob Broughton his next time out at Cage Rage, Esch would rebound with three straight wins. Some of his best wins came in this stretch, defeating James Thompson via TKO, and Zuluzhino via submission at the last ever PRIDE show. Esch was actually once scheduled to fight Mark Hunt in PRIDE before it closed, oh what could have been.
Butterbean would continue to fight until 2011 in MMA, retiring with a record of 17-10-1. Shockingly, he would finish with more submission wins than knockout wins in his career. Having nine submission victories compared to eight wins via knockout. He would retire with more submission victories than UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn. Quality of competition not withstanding, it certainly wasn’t a terrible run.