Tom Aspinall doesn’t like the state of boxing.
Earlier this month, Aspinall won the interim UFC heavyweight title when he knocked out Sergei Pavlovich in the first round at UFC 295. And as a new UFC heavyweight champion, Aspinall has taken it upon himself to join Dana White’s battle against the sport of boxing.
Speaking to talkSPORT Drive on Wednesday about his recent win, Aspinall answered a question about what it’s like to stare down an opponent before a fight, and the interim heavyweight champion took a sideswipe at boxing.
“If you’re fighting in the top 10, top five in the UFC, everyone is elite,” Aspinall said. “Everyone is there to win. I don’t mean to say anything bad about boxing, but a lot of them fights, you know who is going to win and who is going to lose before they step in there. The UFC, it’s 50/50 from the get go. Everyone in there is there to win, and you can see that. You can see that in their eyes staring across. You’ve got some massive, scary guy looking back at you. It separates the men from the boys, that.”
Aspinall is not entirely naive to boxing, as he’s friends with and previously served as a sparring partner for WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and so when pressed on the topic further, Aspinall explained his grievances with the sweet science.
“I am a massive boxing fan,” Aspinall said. “I absolutely love the sport of boxing, [but] I absolutely can’t stand the boxing model. Hate it. I hate the way boxing is going at the moment because I love the sport of boxing. I love the science. I love the defensive techniques, which is amazing. I absolutely love watching actual classic, traditional boxers who are defensively brilliant — it’s my favorite thing. The way the sport is going at the moment is absolutely terrible.
“You can literally look at a card, you can look at an Eddie Hearn show, a Frank Warren show, any other promoter’s show and know — say there are 10 fights on, you can know at least eight of the winners before the bell rings on any of the fights. I can’t stand it. We’re talking about the top guys in the world, none of them are fighting each other. What is this?”
It’s an interesting comment from Aspinall as 2023 has widely been viewed as a banner year for boxing, with numerous high-profile bouts including Terrance Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr, Devin Haney vs. Vasyl Lomachenko, and Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton, among others.
Meanwhile, Aspinall is now gunning for a title unification bout with Jon Jones next, one which seems unlikely to happen. Instead it appears that Jones will likely face former champion Stipe Miocic when Jones returns from injury next year.