Recently, Nick Diaz has verbalized a level of dissatisfaction with where his MMA career is going. This has him thinking about taking a break for a few moments from the sport of mixed martial arts to pursue a professional boxing match. At first, the name floating around out there for him was Fernando Vargas. But more recently, the talk has turned to Jeff Lacy, which would be a bold move for the MMA champion.
“They don’t have anybody else for me to fight now (Strikeforce),” Diaz told Inside MMA. “I’m better than all these guys they have. The guys they have ranked above me, I’m sure they don’t want to fight me. So, I don’t know, I don’t see much of a future in this sport for me, I honestly don’t. Especially if there’s not a whole shitload of money going on. I’m signed into some contract that I don’t know anything about. I don’t know anything about that s***, I got a manager. All I know is that my life’s a living hell, full of training, grueling exercise, training everyday, cater to everybody else and not worry about myself sort of thing.”
Nick Diaz may very well have the best pure boxing skills of any experienced MMA welterweight. He’s got a great jab, straight left, and understands how to use the cumulative effect of punches on opponents as well as anyone. After all, we are talking about a fighter that defeated KJ Noons, a professional boxer with an 11-2 record, in a recent MMA bout that was really all about their stand up (mostly hands). That said, Diaz only has one true professional boxing match to his credit (unanimous decision victory). So the fact that he wants to take on Jeff Lacy, a former Olympian and International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion, certainly has some people taking notice. On one hand, Lacy has lost two straight boxing matches and hasn’t looked the same since a loss to Joe Calzaghe in 2006. On the other, as much as Diaz works his stand up and trains with excellent boxers, Lacy has a huge experience advantage over him in the “sweet science,” having posted over 200 amateur bouts and a 25-4 professional record (17 (T)KO’s).
Said another way, even if Lacy hasn’t looked anywhere near as good as he used to, he’s still a guy that has gotten in there with the likes of Jermain Taylor, Robin Reid, Peter Manfredo Jr., Joe Calzaghe, and Roy Jones, Jr. So it’s no surprise that if the money is right, Lacy is down with the idea of taking on the Strikeforce champion.
“Nick has accomplished a great deal in mixed martial arts and is certainly one of the best in the sport,” Lacy said in a statement. “But getting in the ring with me for a boxing match is a path he needs to be very wary of taking. I’m willing to put it all on the line anytime, anywhere.”
“For the right price, I’m more than interested in heading to his turf and putting my fist in his mouth and silencing him.”
Some might compare what Diaz is planning to do with what James Toney tried to do in reverse when taking on Randy Couture at UFC 118, but the majority of this is vastly different. Toney had almost no MMA training coming into his fight with Couture; whereas if Diaz does jump into the boxing world, he’s already got a ton of training and even a professional bout under his belt. In other words, there’s a world of difference between he and other professional MMA fighters taking the plunge, as friend and teammate Gilbert Melendez said on Inside MMA recently.
“I know I can’t hang with (top level) pro boxers, I’m realistic, I know I’d get smashed,” Melendez said. “Nick Diaz goes (to) spar with Andre Ward and to me is the best 167 pounder in the world out there and he survives. He has bad days; he might even have good days and that’s the toughest guy in the world. If he can hang with him and have good days against him, I think Nick Diaz will do just fine with someone like Fernando Vargas and a lot of guys out there. (Diaz) spars a lot of tough guys. He’s already doing it, he’s already there. He’s also not naive about stuff, so I think it’ll be great for him.”
In the end, Lacy at his best, even now, will likely be a tough pill for Diaz to swallow. Diaz might be best served with a couple tune up fights beforehand; though that isn’t what he’s going to do- remember, he’s clearly seeking high sums of money here. Still, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Diaz perform admirably, as his toughness, cardio, and general background says this is possible. But Lacy is a very fast and bold move for him to make in the boxing world at this juncture.
Looking forward to seeing what happens.