‘Relentless’ Lamon Brewster is a former WBO heavyweight champion of the world who, in 2004, knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in five rounds.
Before that, however, he was a small, meek kid on the streets. A ghetto kid. A vulnerable kid. A kid who, according to a 44-year-old Brewster, would have gravitated towards mixed martial arts and not boxing had he been given the chance – had MMA been a thing – back in the eighties.
Now a fan of MMA, Brewster, retired seven years, is able to see its virtues despite making his name in boxing. He even goes so far as to say it’s a route all ghetto kids should consider when times are tough.
“I really like MMA,” Brewster told Fighters Only. “I actually worked with Matt Mitrione a couple of fights back. He’s from my hometown. He’s a beast, man. A warrior. I applaud him for what he does. I respect him.
“I don’t disagree with MMA. As a matter of fact, if they had MMA when I was growing up in the street, I would have done MMA, not boxing.
“With MMA, it’s not about your size. Me being a little guy growing up in a neighbourhood full of bullies, I’d have been able to put dudes in choke holds and arm-bars. I’d been able to do all that and not use my fists.
“Kids are getting killed because they’re afraid of bullies. They get a gun to try and teach guys not to mess with them. Sometimes, in the case of the bully, they think the guy is so scared he won’t use a gun but he doesn’t understand how it feels. A lot of the time in the ghetto you’ve got guys running in groups and they single out the weak.
“These kids probably don’t have a father and their mother is at work. The mother can’t teach the boy how to be a man. He’s skinny. What does he do? He knows the only thing he can do is use the gun to stop himself getting beaten up or killed. He’s got to kill rather than be killed. The cycle then repeats itself.
“But if these kids grew up doing MMA… are you crazy? Bullies wouldn’t dare mess with one of these kids. The little kids would be able to break them down. It should be mandatory to put kids from the ghetto into MMA.”
Love of MMA to one side, Brewster is sticking with boxing when it comes to the crossover spectacle between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor on August 26 in Las Vegas. He’s picking the boxer to win the boxing match. More than that, he expects the boxer to win the boxing match.
“It will be like taking the best basketball shooting guard in high school in the entire United States and putting him against a prime Michael Jordan on a one-on-one,” said Lamon. “Boxing and MMA are two totally different genres. Boxing is a specialisation of the hands and feet and the strategy of hitting and not getting hit. MMA is a more wide range, from kung-fu to jiu-jitsu.
“Even if Conor McGregor was the hardest puncher in the world, which he isn’t, do you think that just because you can hit a hockey puck 200 miles per hour you’re going to win a PGA golf tournament against a prime Tiger Woods? No, man. In the words of Don King, his chances are slim to none and slim is out of town.
“This fight won’t go past six or seven rounds. McGregor will find himself in over his head and will be fighting only with heart. Once he realises his skills don’t matter, he’s going to resort to heart, like any man should. He’s going to try and stand his ground and he’ll go out fighting.
“McGregor is no joke in terms of the MMA world, but he’s in a whole different world now. He’s out of the pond and is about to enter the ocean with a killer whale. He might have been the big catfish in the fresh water pond, but we’re talking about a killer whale here.
“Floyd Mayweather, love him or hate him, is one of the greatest fighters the world has ever seen. How could you think for one second a guy like Conor McGregor would stand a chance?
“Every great boxer Mayweather has fought, from Jose Luis Castillo to Manny Pacquiao, had a puncher’s chance. You saw how they fared. If Manny Pacquiao, as great as he is, couldn’t beat Floyd Mayweather, why do you think a dude who ain’t even had a pro fight is going to win?”
Much like his fighting style, Brewster doesn’t hold back. He sees a Mayweather victory on Saturday as a mere formality and won’t allow you, me or anyone else to dispute that point of view. It’s a no-contest, he says. A mismatch. A sure thing. But it’s also a spectacle he’s keen to watch.
“Look at it for what it is: two worlds clashing,” said Brewster. “I’m happy to see it because many fighters have gone over to MMA and been shown to be out of their element. And now, for the first time, we get to see an MMA guy come into boxing so he can be shown he too is out of his element. That’s not to say boxing is better than MMA or vice versa, it’s just to say these are two different worlds and we should stay on our side of the fence.
“It’s like when Ali took on the wrestler (Antonio Inoki). We knew the wrestler was going to win and he did. But I’ll be watching, for sure.”