When you think of boxing you think of someone like Gary Shaw. He should be the poster boy for professional boxing.
Real boxing folks have a kind of let-me-through kind of swagger and gruff laughter you hear after a bawdy joke. They’re tough, to-the-point and won’t let anybody punk them.
So why is Shaw working with mixed martial arts?
“My son Jaret, he’s 26, talked me into it,” said Shaw, whose son is a big follower of mixed martial arts. “He told me you’re going to be at the train station and end up as a bystander, not the engineer.”
Shaw along with Pro Elite XC and Showtime has combined forces to produce the first mixed martial arts fight card featuring Renzo Gracie and Frank Shamrock on a major cable television network. The fight card takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10, in Southaven, Mississippi at the DeSoto Civic Center.
After spending decades in the boxing world as a regulator, administrator and now as a promoter, Shaw is stepping over to the other side of the tracks to lend his expertise as a fight promoter.
“My view of the sports is different from others who have been in it for a while,” he said. “I have a different view that can serve well.”
During the last year a number of states have legalized mixed martial arts including California. Though a number of MMA organizations have funneled through various regions, Shaw feels no organization has presented the best of the sport.
“What I’m trying to do is let the best fighters fight,” Shaw said, adding the major MMA organizations are pushing the fighters that they want to have recognition and not necessarily the best fighters toward titles. “Let’s put a UFC fighter against a Pro Elite XC fighter or a Pride fighter to see who is the best. We have the platform to put these fights on.”
Boxing, he says, has more recognition for its champions, though there are several sanctioning organizations.
“In the end the people know who the true champions are,” he says of boxing. “When a guy from UFC holds up his belt, he’s only the UFC champion, not the champion of the world. The same goes for Pride champions. They need to fight each other.”
Showtime television will be offering some different looks into MMA by having cameras go into locker rooms and allow fans to see the step-by-step preparation during the night of a big fight.
“I’m a big NFL fan and that’s something I would love to see: what’s going on in the locker room,” Shaw said.
So what does a boxing guy say about boxing?
“I care about the sport,” he says of professional boxing.
Recently one of his fighters, Chad Dawson, captured the WBC light heavyweight world title by unanimous decision over Tomasz Adamek. On Saturday, Vivian Harris meets Juan Lazcano in an elimination bout for the WBC junior welterweight title.
Diego Corrales, one of the great punchers today, said Shaw, will be fighting as a welterweight. One opponent he mentioned was a possible match with Arturo “Thunder” Gatti.
“We’re still involved in boxing,” growled Shaw.
Yup, he’s a real boxing guy. But now MMA has a new player.