Jose Canseco came out swinging but didn’t last long in his debut in mixed martial arts.
The former Oakland Athletics slugger was defeated by South Korean super heavyweight Hong Man Choi by a knockout just 1 minute, 17 seconds into the first round at Yokohama Arena.
The referee stopped the fight when the 7-foot-2, 330-pound Choi knocked Canseco to the mat and started punching his head.
“That’s a big man,” Canseco said after the fight. “I ran into one of his left jabs and that almost knocked me out. You have no idea how scary it was facing a man that big.”
Canseco did land the first blow with a right to the upper body of Choi but that was all the damage he could inflict on the Korean giant.
Shortly into the fight, Canseco hurt his right knee and was unable to do much after that.
“I hurt my knee back home real bad but I didn’t want to disappoint the fans,” Canseco said. “I knew that at some point during the fight my knee was going to give out and once I was down I knew I wasn’t going to get up. He’s just too heavy to move.”
Canseco came into the arena to “Wild Thing” with a baseball bat on his shoulder. The way things turned out, he probably should have kept the bat.
He took a few swings of the bat after the fight was over and was helped out of the ring by his girlfriend, Heidi Northcott.
Canseco, who hit 462 home runs over 17 seasons in the major leagues, has had several fights inside the ring since leaving baseball but has never taken on professional fighters like Choi, who improved to 2-2 in MMA.
He boxed Danny Bonaduce, a former “Partridge Family” child star, to a draw in a celebrity match in January. The 1988 AL MVP, who named alleged steroid abusers like himself in his two books, lost to former Philadelphia Eagle Vai Sikahema in his first foray into celebrity boxing.
By his acknowledgment, the baseball outcast needs the money. It’s one reason why Canseco has accepted a wide variety of offbeat jobs to make ends meet.
He said he will work on getting his knee back in shape before taking on any more fights.
“I have no idea if I’ll do this again,” Canseco said. “I’ve gotta get my knee better before I commit to anything like this.”
The Associated Press