by Brandon Richard
When doing press for the Nike Kobe 9 Elite launch, Kobe Bryant stated that watching Manny Pacquiao train in his boxing boots inspired the design of his ultra high-top signature sneaker. After all, basketball players and modern boxers look for similar qualities in footwear — light weight, support, breathability and superior traction for sharp, precise movements. And in a turn of events, boxers inspired by Bryant are now wearing the Kobe 9 Elite in the ring.
The most recent occurrence took place last night, when Lamont Peterson went to-to-toe with Danny Garcia in the main event of PBC on NBC. Peterson, wearing the grey-based 'Detail' colorway, moved around the ring with speed and comfort for 12 rounds, albeit in a controversial split decision loss.
Last month, John Molina Jr. battled Adrien Broner in 'BHM' 9 Elite.
This isn't the first time the worlds of basketball and boxing have collided. In 1999, Jordan Brand signed Roy Jones Jr. to a multi-year endorsement deal. Instead of having him fight in basketball shoes, the brand produced a line of boxing shoes, most notably the RJJ. Jordan continues to have a hand in the sport today, outfitting WBA super-middleweight champion Andre Ward.
It's a little premature to say that basketball sneakers are taking over boxing. Fighters prefer the higher cut for extra support and very few hoop models offer it the way the Kobe 9 Elite does. However, top fighters wearing the shoes does validate Bryant's early claims and provides companies like Nike with useful information for future ring boot designs.