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“Who wants it?” – Irish MMA star and McGregor sparring partner to make boxing switch

One of Ireland’s leading mixed martial arts stars has indicated that he wants to make a move into boxing.

Artem Lobov requested a release from his contract with the UFC promotion which has been granted and ‘The Russian Hammer’ would send out a ‘come and get me’ post to many of the other major MMA promotions.

Just a few hours later though the 32-year-old training partner of Conor McGregor also suggested a move into the square circle, claiming that “boxing is a great sport but it lacks entertainment lately. Time to bring the big guns! Who wants it?”

An immensely popular figure within MMA, Lobov has promised to “take over” boxing and has already sent out a few call-outs, namedropping both Amir Khan and Paulie Malignaggi – who is currently embroiled in a ‘saga’ with McGregor.

Born in Nizhny Novgorod in modern day Russia, Lobov would move to Ireland in his mid-teens where he would pick up mixed martial arts in DCU before eventually finding himself in John Kavanagh’s Straight Blast Gym.

An Irish citizen, the southpaw describes how he was “born in Russia and forged in Ireland” and carries the flags of both nations to the ring.

Turning pro in 2010, Lobov would move into the UFC in 2015 via their Ultimate Fighter Series where he has remained since, racking up a 2-5 record [full record: 13-15-1].

Operating at featherweight [145lbs] and lightweight [155lbs] in the octagon, Lobov would most likely operate at welter [147lbs] or light middle [154lbs] in boxing.

Indeed, if he does change codes, the Dublin-based fighter already has coaching offers, with Paul Hyland from the Hyland Boxing Academy – which is based in SBG Tallaght – offering to help out Lobov.

There has been plenty of cross-pollination between the two sports in recent years.

Antrim cruiserweight Conor Cooke [2(1)-0] returned from boxing following a spell in the octagon, Tallaght super feather and MMA promoter Declan Kenna is set to debut soon, while Cork feather Colin O’Donovan has also competed under expanded rules. Most successfully, top UFC contender and McGregor defeater Joseph Duffy of Donegal racked up a 7(2)-0 record in 2013 in between stints in the cage.

Another SBG fighter, Cathal Pendred, would state his desire to box professionally in an effort to improve his skills for MMA but this would never occur. Then, of course, there is Lobov’s sparring partner McGregor [0-1(1)] who had a high-profile fight with five-weight champ Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in August 2017 in which he was stopped in the tenth round.


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie