The basketball player formally known as Ron Artest is closing in on a professional boxing contract. Metta World Peace, as he is known today, never hid his desire to get into fighting after his NBA career ends. His dad, Ron Artest, Sr. was an amateur boxer. Now the Lakers star is moving forward with his plans to tackle the sweet science.

Elie Seckbach, a reporter for boxing site EsNews, caught up with World Peace before Wednesday night's game with the Clippers. After being asked about Floyd "Money" Mayweather being sentenced to 90 days in jail, Metta dropped his plans to sign with the boxer's promotion company.

"I know Floyd, Money Team. I actually might sign to Floyd Mayweather's promotion," World Peace said. "I was talking to Lou DiBella and I was talking to Floyd. Briefly spoke to Bob Arum, but I think I'm going to sign with Floyd Mayweather. I'm going to fight as a professional later."

Known by his birth name in 2004, Artest was at the center of the "Malice at the Palace" as it was dubbed. With less than a minute to go in the game, players from the Pacers and Pistons got into a huge fight, which spilled over into the crowd. As a result, nine players were suspended -- including Artest, who ended up sitting out a total of 86 games (73 regular season, 13 playoffs for his actions).

As for his new plans to fight professionally, World Peace didn't expand too much on when he's planning to shift over to boxing. Asked if any of his Lakers teammates were aware of his proposed career change, World Peace said: "I can't tell them everything. There is too much stuff going on to say every little thing you're doing."

So who would win a fight between Metta and Kobe Bryant? "We would never fight; we are teammates. We would jump the other opponent," World Peace said.

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Kobe was asked if his reaction to his teammate World Peace closing in on a professional boxing contract: "If he (World Peace) wants to box, he can do that all he wants. He'll have to do it after the season and maybe someplace else," Kobe told Seckbach.

World Peace is making $6.7 million this season, with another $7.2 million guaranteed in 2012-13.

As for his out-of-this-world name change from Ron Artest to Metta World Peace, the Lakers star sounded like it was no big deal. "It was just something we just wanted to do; something different. We thought it was kind of cool so we just went ahead and went with it," World Peace said.

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