Artem Lobov and former WBA light-welterweight champion Amir Khan have had some longstanding issues with one another over the years.
Back in 2017, the pair actually got into a bit of a Twitter spat that sparked some bad blood.
Now that Lobov is no longer under an exclusive contract with the UFC, “The Russian Hammer” can pursue a fight with Khan. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Lobov now has some experience in the world of boxing. Bare-knuckle boxing to be exact. However, in his latest outing, he bested a former WBA welterweight champion in Paulie Malignaggi.
The victory solidified something Lobov already knew, as he told LowKickMMA. That being that the gap between MMA fighters and boxers isn’t as wide as people think.
“It’s something I already knew,” Lobov said. “The gap is a lot closer between boxers and MMA fighters, it’s not as big as people make it out to be. So I knew it was going to be very competitive. Also, given the nature of the fight, that it’s not a straight boxing fight, and the fact that Paulie is already in his forties, you know, I was sure I was going to get the win. So I was not surprised at all.
“I had hoped for a bit more action in the fight. I was hoping that after everything that had been said in the lead up to the fight I was hoping that Paulie would bring it, that he would come in and fight and try and do something – especially given the fact that he is the former world champion. But, however, he was still on his bike, he was running away, he didn’t want to engage, the referee didn’t let me clinch, so as a result, I didn’t do as much damage as I had hoped. But I won it comfortably.”
Lobov has now expressed interest in making his professional boxing debut. He’s open to rematching Malignaggi in a legitimate boxing match, pointing to the Logan Paul vs. KSI DAZN card as a possible landing spot for such a fight. However, Malignaggi isn’t the only opponent he’s seeking out. Lobov is still gunning for a fight against Khan, and is ready to fight him in bare-knuckle or a traditional boxing fight.
“Absolutely. I’ve been trying to get a boxing fight for a while now,” Lobov said. “I’ve been trying to get the Amir Khan fight. Doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment. I’m still on the lookout for a boxing fight. I’ve had my experience in the bare-knuckle ring now, I always train with the boxers. There’s a lot of very very high-level boxers in Ireland, I spare with them on a regular basis.
“I definitely want to try myself out in the boxing ring. Even if you look at my UFC losses, it was always due to wrestling. I was never really losing due to my striking. Even guys like Michael Johnson, I was making him wrestle. He didn’t want to stand with me. So I was never knocked out, even when guys threw head kicks at me. I was able to recover and keep marching forward.
“So to me, a boxing fight, I don’t see what the dangers for me would be. I definitely have the chin, I definitely have the power, there is no wrestling where they can just hold me down for the points – I see myself having a very very good chance.”
Lobov’s longtime MMA coach, John Kavanagh, threw his support behind a potential MMA fight between Lobov and Khan earlier this year. However, Lobov doesn’t think Khan would present much of a challenge for him inside the MMA cage. He’d much rather test himself against Khan under bare-knuckle or traditional boxing rules.
“Yeah, well definitely bare-knuckle boxing he’d have a chance – or straight boxing I’d fight him as well,” Lobov said. “MMA, I think the transition is too difficult for a boxer into MMA. There’s just way too many things that they need to learn. From kicks, to wrestling, to jiu-jitsu, this is years and years of transition. I know he’s teased about it, but unless he has been training non-stop in grappling and wrestling all that time, then that fight doesn’t interest me in MMA.
“I would still do it for the money, of course, if they offered it to me. I mean, but, I’ve always been after big challenges. I’ve always been after the hardest fights I could possibly get. And an MMA fight against Amir Khan would not be any of those things. Not even close. So, not very interested to be honest, but like I said, money talks, so if the money was there I’d do it of course.”
Khan once said it “would not be a problem” for him transitioning into MMA, and is more than opening to trying his hand at the sport one day. However, Lobov believes such talk from Khan is simply the former world champion trash talking.
“Yeah, pretty much, that’s exactly what’s happening there,” Lobov said. “I doubt he’s very serious because it would just take – I mean maybe at the start when they’ve never tried, boxers can be a little bit – they’ve participated in combat sports so they’ve got a lot of pride and ego, they don’t want to maybe admit that an MMA fighter would be a one-way street.
“They might think they’d be a bit competitive, but I guarantee you, that thought would be straight out of their mind the moment they try a sparring session the first time, even pretty much a beginner MMA guy, that’s only been training for a year, if they try to spar an MMA fight against someone like that, a boxer would very quickly realize they have no place in an MMA ring.”
Do you think Lobov and Khan will ever settle their differences?