Jones, Wilder, Pacquiao and more: Six boxers who competed in other sports

While all of these fighters have achieved a lot as boxers, their path could have easily taken them into other sports…

Deontay Wilder's sporting story really is extraordinary. He competed in American football and basketball while he was in high school.

He had the opportunity to make a career in either sport, though the birth of his first child in 2015 led to him changing his plans.

She was born with spina bifida (a spinal condition) - so sport was understandably put on the backburner.

'The Bronze Bomber' did not even lace up a pair of boxing gloves until he was 20 years old. He was trained by Jay Deas in Alabama and Wilder took to the sport quicker than most.

Wilder Ortiz

His natural sporting acumen set him up well as he won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He turned pro later that year and he became world heavyweight champion at the start of 2015.

Wilder has been tormented by Tyson Fury in recent years. Ahead of their first fight in 2018, 'The Gypsy King' mocked the American:

"He couldn't make it in American football or basketball, because he wasn't good enough.

"Fighting's all I've ever done. Wilder came to this as a third option. It ain't genuine - he's a fake and a fraud."

Given how Wilder was pummelled by Fury, he may have wished he stuck to American football or basketball.

Katie Taylor (Football)

The Irishwoman is unique in that she competed at a high level in a sport other than boxing.

She made an impression on the international stage as a footballer for the Republic of Ireland. She was capped eleven times between 2006 and 2009.

Taylor was highly-rated as a youngster as she won the U19 Women's International Player of the Year award in 2004.

'The Bray Bomber' always had one eye on boxing, as her footballing commitments did not prevent her from competing in the amateur ranks.

From a physicality standpoint, her boxing training did help her to hold her own in football.

While she could have easily had a prolonged career in football, Taylor's boxing talent was clear for everyone to see.

She won five world championship gold medals as a lightweight before she vied for more glory at the 2012 London Olympics.

To the surprise of no one, Taylor won Olympic gold and she has established herself as one of the best female fighters of all time since turning pro.

The undisputed lightweight champion's best moment could yet be to come, however, as a historic clash with fellow great Amanda Serrano is set for Madison Square Garden in April…

Manny Pacquiao (Basketball)

Pacquiao retires

It is no secret that Pacquiao has a soft spot for basketball. His highly respected coach - Freddie Roach - once lifted the lid on his fighter's love for the sport:

"We do have a rule: Four weeks before a fight Manny's not allowed to play basketball. We made that a while ago."

The eight-division world champion's dream became reality as he joined the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 2014/15.

This came as he was announced as a player-coach of the Kia Motors Basketball team. An agreement was in place for other teams to not draft Pacquiao.

He picked himself for Kia eleventh in the draft. This saw him become the oldest ever rookie in the league's history (aged 35).

Pacquiao opted to retire from the sport in 2018. He did not exactly have a prolific record.

The legendary boxer's career-high of points in a game was four and he played fewer than ten games in the PBA.

Chris Algieri (Kickboxing)

The American has enjoyed a successful boxing career, but he is perhaps better known for his achievements in kickboxing.

Algieri won major accolades both as an amateur and a professional. Before turning pro, he won the USKBA Northeast Championship.

More glory was to come after turning to the pro ranks when he was aged 19. He won the ISKA world welterweight and WKA super welterweight world titles.

He was also a true champion as he made 20 successful defences of his world titles and he left the sport with a 20-0 record as a world champion.

Algieri made the switch to boxing in 2008 as he made his professional debut against Ken Dunham.

Speaking in 2013 - a year before his first boxing loss to Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight title - Algieri insisted that he did not need to box:

"My passion is for the sport of boxing. It's not to feed my family or get out of a certain situation.

"I am not chasing money or anything like that. I am chasing a dream in a sport that I love, and that's a pretty powerful motivator."

'The Fighting Collegian' now has a 25-4 record. His other three losses have come against Amir Khan, Errol Spence Jr and Conor Benn.

Claressa Shields (MMA)

Claressa Shields

The 26-year-old is one of the pillars of women's boxing. She is a two-time gold medallist both at the Olympics and World Championships.

Shields turned professional in 2016 and remarkably, from her twelve bouts, she has managed to become a three-weight world champion.

'T-Rex' must have got a bit bored of only being one of the best women's boxers around, as in 2020, she signed a three-year deal with MMA organisation, the Professional Fighters League.

She defeated Marie-Eve Dicaire in March 2021 to hold onto her WBC and WBO super welterweight titles. In doing so, she also added the IBF, WBA (Super) and The Ring titles to her collection.

Following this triumph, she made her MMA debut in the main event of PFL 4 in June against Brittney Elkin. Shields triumphed in her debut as she stopped her opponent...

Shields suffered disappointment in her second bout last October though. At PFL 10, she was bested by split decision against Abigail Montes. The judges scored the clash 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 in Montes' favour.

She has since turned her attention back to boxing. Back at middleweight, Shields retained her belts against Ema Kozin earlier this month on the Chris Eubank Jr-Liam Williams undercard.

Shields faced off with Savannah Marshall post-fight and the rivals are set for a huge unification bout later this year.

Roy Jones Jr (Basketball)

Roy Jones Jr

'Captain Hook is one on his own in the boxing world as he won titles from middleweight right up to heavyweight.

The multiple-time Golden Gloves was never scared to take on a challenge over the course of his 75-fight career.

Jones Jr is a four-weight world champion and he is justifiably billed as one of the greatest pound for pound boxers of all time.

Roy Jones Jr

Like Wilder and Pacquiao, Jones Jr also dabbled with basketball during his boxing career.

The American has also been one to achieve the unthinkable, and he made history in June 1996.

On the morning of a fight, he played in a professional basketball game. Later that same day, he battled Eric Lucas at the Jacksonville Coliseum.

In doing so, Jones Jr became the first athlete to compete in two professional sports on the same day.

The basketball game did not put the IBF world super middleweight champion off too much, as he defeated Lucas. The challenger retired after the eleventh round as Jones Jr clung onto his title.

Basketball clearly runs through the family, as his eldest son (Roy Jones III) is hoping to make it into the NBA.

Who knows, he might follow his father in becoming a boxer at some point. You would be foolish to write off anyone from Jones Jr's lineage after everything he achieved.

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