What was the tune they sang in Bugsy Malone? So you wanna be a boxer? Well, apparently top mixed martial arts contender Nick Diaz wouldn't mind giving it a try at some point in the near future, despite very little evidence suggesting it's a wise career choice. Moreover, you'd have thought boxer James Toney's ill-fated leap the other way in 2010 would have sufficiently deterred any like-minded individuals from attempting something similar.
But, no, if Diaz' words are to be believed, a move into boxing is something he has contemplated for a while and is something that may soon become a reality. Fed up of being dragged to the ground, he has baited Floyd Mayweather, Fernando Vargas, Jeff Lacy and Sergio Martinez, and seems entirely serious in his quest to be dramatically shown up in a boxing ring. The welterweight contender even has a promoter, Don Chagrin, doing the hunting for him.
"It's the type of match-up that will undoubtedly shake up both the MMA and boxing world for years to come," said Chagrin. "Nick Diaz is the first MMA fighter that I've seen throw punches like a boxer. That's what got my attention when I decided to sign him. Diaz can make the crossover to boxing."
Now for a reality check. While I'm happy to be proved wrong, the chances of Diaz finding boxing success at any notable level equate to about the same as a Jamaican bobsled team winning gold at the Olympic Games. No, John Candy (R.I.P), it ain't going to happen. In fact, in order of potential humiliation, I'd position the called-out roster something like this -- Mayweather, Martinez, Lacy and Vargas. Lacy and Vargas could be bad for Nick's ego, while Mayweather and Martinez could be bad for his health.
So where does this obsession to box come from? Well, as anybody who has seen Diaz throw down can attest, his hands, chin and desire to stand and bang are the USPs of both him and his brother, Nate. They love nothing more than a close-quarter tear-up and, more often than not, the power and unorthodoxy of their fists result in opponents falling at their feet.
Yes, it's true, as far as mixed martial artists go, Nick Diaz throws hands as well as anybody out there. He is riding a tremendous 10-fight win-streak and recent victories over fellow bangers Paul 'Semtex' Daley and KJ Noons have merely furthered his striking legacy. We're now almost at the stage where, should an opponent choose to stand with Diaz, it's very likely they'll end up in a heap on the floor.
Aside from an earlier cuts stoppage defeat to Noons, Diaz hasn't been thoroughly beaten for five years. Crucially, though, he suffered an agonizing run of three defeats in the UFC, against the likes of Sean Sherk, Diego Sanchez and Joe Riggs and, in the process grew a serious dislike for wrestlers and anything not resembling a shoot-out. In fact, Diaz has openly expressed his disdain for wrestlers and lay-and-pray merchants and dreams of a day when PRIDE's yellow card strategy is reintroduced. With all that in mind, a shock move into the stand-up world of boxing eradicates any ground annoyance and would, one assume, put Diaz in his comfort zone for the duration of a fight.
That is correct. Well, at least in theory. A move into boxing -- especially at the level he is talking -- would also present Diaz with techniques, power and problems the likes of Daley and Noons were never able to offer. Even a super-sized version of Vargas, a former light-middleweight champion who'd now have to cut to make the UFC heavyweight division, is someone who has forgotten more than Diaz will ever know about pure punching and boxing instincts.
Like 'Lights Out' Toney's suicidal move into mixed martial arts last year, Diaz' protracted experiment in the squared circle wouldn't end in smiles and, though one would hope it never counted against him, may go some way to even discrediting his great recent work in his own sport.
What makes Diaz' willingness to explore all the more bemusing is that, unlike Toney, this leading welterweight contender is currently enjoying the form of his life and is a champion in his own right. While we all knew the 41-year-old Toney's trip to mixed martial arts was one triggered by desperation and a lack of alternative destinations, Strikeforce champion Diaz isn't in the same position. In fact, many believe Diaz to be the second best welterweight in the world, positioned snugly behind UFC welterweight ruler Georges St-Pierre.
Diaz also happens to be perhaps the only man capable of dethroning St-Pierre, a champion dominant but dull again at the weekend. In fact, a battle between St-Pierre and Diaz, good versus evil, so to speak, would be one of the more appealing matches left for GSP to taste in his natural weight-class. One assumes that, unlike Saturday's opponent Jake Shields, the heavy-handed Diaz would pose ample threat in any stand-up confrontation and, as a disciple of Cesar Gracie, would know enough on the ground to at least question GSP's advances down there.
More importantly, though, Diaz boasts the rambunctious and spiteful personality required to creep inside GSP's head and unleash a team of demons. After all, dominant though he undoubtedly is, St-Pierre's sixth successive title defence at UFC 129, again, highlighted what a complex and unsure fighter the great French-Canadian can sometimes be. He was overly hesitant with his strikes, panicked when blood started to run from a cut eye, and efficiently did the bare minimum to get the job done.
Whereas St-Pierre and Shields kept things respectful and pleasant ahead of their UFC 129 bout, Diaz would be expected to bait, goad and wind up GSP in a manner that may tip the cautious champion over the edge and disrupt his single-minded pursuit of perfection.
Truth be told, the timid welterweight division is in grave need of somebody -- anybody -- to drag St-Pierre from his comfort zone, if only to inadvertently prove to us all what a great champion the French-Canadian truly is. Until St-Pierre is tested in ways that shake his insecurities, he'll remain on this impressively comfortable path of five-round decision wins and minimal damage -- granted, a welcome luxury, if you're good enough.
So, forget the fact that Diaz will be Toney-d in any attempt to cross over into boxing, mixed martial arts needs the crazy Californian on board to wreak havoc in his own inimitable way. Let's be honest, without Diaz stirring things up, the welterweight division could become a boring spot to hang out.