The ring is full circle: Holm would consider a return to boxing - Albuquerque Journal

The ring is full circle: Holm would consider a return to boxing

In this Dec. 10, 2004 file photo, Holly Holm dances around the ring after winning the IBA World Title belt by defeating Terri Blair. Holm said recently she would consider a return to boxing if the offer was agreeable. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal file)

Holly Holm hasn’t fought in more than 14 months. Currently rehabbing a knee injury, she has nothing yet scheduled for 2022.

Yet, the ever-popular Albuquerque MMA fighter has done multiple interviews with multiple entities of late, asked and answering a wide variety of questions.

Among the answers:

Having turned 40 in October, she’s not talking, or even thinking, about retirement.

If the UFC offered her a fight in its 145-featherweight division, in which she has fought twice before, she wouldn’t necessarily turn it down. But the 135-pound bantamweight division, in which she once held the title, remains her focus.

The ongoing debate about who’s the best boxer in the UFC, the former world boxing champion said, is barely worth discussing. Boxing is not MMA, and vice versa.

By far the most interesting question, however, and by far the most interesting answer, came from an interview with veteran combat-sports journalist Lance Pugmire.

Would Holm entertain the possibility of a return to the ring, almost nine years after she left boxing to exclusively train for MMA?

Absolutely, she said, as long as the fight was for a world title.

“I miss boxing,” she told Pugmire. “It’s always going to be part of my heart. So, you never know. Maybe I will go back.”

Three things prompted Pugmire’s question: Holm’s upcoming induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, the fact that she has only two fights left on her UFC contract, and his having heard that there’s interest in Holm from the camp of world lightweight champion Katie Taylor (20-0, six knockouts).

On Wednesday, Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s longtime Albuquerque promoter, confirmed the rumors. He told the Journal he’s been in touch with Taylor’s manager, Brian Peters, since before the Irish Olympic gold medalist turned pro in 2016.

Is Holm-Taylor, then, a possibility?

“Most definitely,” Fresquez said.

Holm made it clear to Pugmire that, for now, her pursuit of the UFC bantamweight title she once held remains her priority.

Still, her interest was clearly piqued by the question.

The Albuquerque left-hander is the only combat-sports athlete, man or woman, who has held both a world boxing title and a UFC title. No one has held the two simultaneously.

Claressa Shields, Holm’s teammate at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA and a world champion boxer, made that her goal when she came to J-W. But after Shields lost her second MMA fight in October, her prospects of achieving that objective took a dip.

As of now, Holm has neither an MMA title nor a boxing title. But, she told Pugmire, “A lot of fighters are trying to go back and forth (between boxing and MMA), and nobody’s doing it successfully.

“I can. I know I can. I know I can go back to boxing and still be a champion.”

Holm was 31-2-3 in the ring, with world titles in three weight classes.

THE GOAT DEBATE: Pugmire postulated that, should Holm return to boxing and win a world title, that title and her accomplishments in MMA would at least put her in the conversation as the greatest female combat-sports athlete of all time.

Let’s wait, Holm responded, and see what happens.

“I feel like I’m still striving. I’m still going for greatness,” she said. “So I don’t look at it as I’m the GOAT, like I’ve already done it. I’m still wanting more.

“In order to be the GOAT, it has to be for the accomplishments you already did.”

FIRST UP: Jackson-Wink MMA welterweight Chris “Breezy” Brown, it appears, will be the first New Mexico pro fighter to compete in 2022.

Brown (7-3) is matched against Steve Jones (8-2) of Longview, Texas, Friday on an LFA card in Dallas.

The card will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass, starting at 7 p.m.


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