Michael “Venom” Page fighting a professional boxing match three weeks after decimating David Rickels in Bellator 200 should have told you how serious he is about segueing back and forth between MMA and the sweet science.
But just in case combat sports fans still aren’t clear, MVP reiterated those intentions Tuesday, while appearing in a New York City press conference to announce the launch of DAZN’s streaming service in the U.S. Page wants to get to a point where he’s regularly alternating between MMA and boxing soon and over the duration of his career.
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“My thing is while I can, I will,” Page told Sporting News. “I’m comfortable doing both. I’m capable of doing this — capable, comfortable and skillful enough at a high level as well. I know I can do this. It’s going to take time for people to believe it. The more people I keep putting down, the more their beliefs will go up.”
Page, 31, has cruised to victories in his two pro boxing bouts: first scoring a third-round TKO over Jonathan Castanoin October 2017, before recording a second-round KO of Michael Ciach on June 15 both in his native London.
But Page says he has been lobbying for boxing fights for years and that “nobody’s interested.” And he understands why.
For starters, fighting Page presents a lose-lose type of situation for a top boxer. If he defeats Page, critics and fans alike would simply reason that said boxer was supposed to beat an MMA fighter in the ring. If he loses to Page, though, his boxing career would seemingly never be the same.
“It’s an unnecessary risk for them,” Page admitted about boxers agreeing to fight him in the ring.
But there’s another factor that have boxers probably thinking twice before signing on to throw hands with Page — his unorthodox style.
Against Rickels in May, Page did everything from a Harlem Shake to completely dropping his hands and getting low in a taunting stance right out of Street Fighter. And he pulled off much of the same antics boxing against Ciach in June, lulling his opponent in, before connecting on calculated strikes.
“For any type of boxer — and there are different styled boxers, obviously — but for any style boxer that I’ve seen, my style is going to be a difficult thing to deal with,” Page continued. “It’s just not seen. It’s the same benefit I have when I’m in MMA. Boxers don’t have training partners that can mimic what I do, so, the first time they get a taste of me is when we’re actually in the ring or cage … and it’s usually too late by then.”
So, how does Page plan to combat these factors in order to establish himself as a legitimate contender in boxing? Well, his plan is simple — keep dominating in Bellator MMA, while making the most of each and every boxing match until boxers can’t deny him an opportunity any longer.
“Their automatic excuse right now is, ‘Well, you’ve only had two fights.’ Before that, ‘you only had one fight.’ Before that, ‘you haven’t had a fight in boxing,’” Page said. “I have to develop the record where people can’t say no.”
In that regard, Page’s wildly-entertaining style and growing popularity should certainly help. His in-cage hijinks during the Rickels fight helped him go viral to the point where 50 Cent, who was in attendance for Bellator 200 at The SSE Arena, Wembley, dedicated multiple Instagram posts to MVP.
Like this one:
@michaelvenompage is no joke, he told me, l got this FiF this what l do.??get the strap. Power July1
And this one:
?this guy @michaelvenompage is the real deal he talk that shit then back it up.?get the strap #lecheminduroi
Coincidentally, Page told Sporting News that he and 50 shared the same flight to NYC this week and that the rap mogul vowed to link up with him.
“It’s nice to have guys of his caliber so interested,” Page said. “It’s my style that he saw and he fell in love with and then I proved it to him [during Bellator 200].”
Page admits that his in-fight antics are part diversion tactics, part opportunistic via embarrassment, but all measured.
“My antics in front of you creates frustration,” Page explained. “When you fight off of emotion, you’re going to make mistakes. I’m waiting for you to make that wrong decision. When you decide to bite on it, I’m like a sniper in that sense … I’m very accurate.”
When it comes to a boxer with an unorthodox style that Page appreciates, only one name comes to his mind.
“[Vasyl] Lomachenko. That guy is one of the only people I truly enjoy watching,” Page said. “There are fighters that I enjoy watching, but after you get the result, I’m satisfied. Now, with him, you get the result and cool, you’re satisfied. But then, I want to go back and dissect every interaction that he did during that fight. He’s something special. He can be in front of you, then behind you, then back in front of you and not be hit, but hit you about four or five times.”
Added Page: “I’m a massive fan of body movement and combat sports isn’t just about landing strikes. It’s body movement and I think he understands that the way I do, so, I’m a massive fan of him.”
Whether MVP can legitimize his name in boxing remains to be seen. Until then, Page will participate in the Bellator’s welterweight grand prix tournament, which begins on September 29.
“This tournament is going to have everybody who’s anybody in it,” Page said. “The winner of the tournament can truly say he’s the champion.”