Trading Places

Anderson Silva weighs-in for UFC 82: Pride of a Champion. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Throughout history there’s been a good amount of athletes who have tried their hand at multiple sports. While we likely won’t have another Bo Jackson for a long time, there are still those select few that go out of their way in order to show prowess in a sport that is not their own. Tony Gonzalez and Terrell Owens are a good, recent example of this.

Mixed martial artists aren’t an exception to the rule. It’s pretty prevalent that fighters train and compete in various forms of the martial arts. However when it comes to the big dogs these days, MMA and Boxing, it’s been a one-sided affair for the most part.

Floyd Mayweather has expressed interest in converting to the world’s fastest growing sport. Tommy Morrison made up his own set of rules. Eric “Butterbean” Esch has found moderate success but will never become anything more than just a sideshow attraction in the sport. Yosuke Nishijima will be none of the above.

The same goes for boxing’s criticism of MMA. We all know about the comments of Mayweather, Morrison, Marvin Hagler, and Jim Lampley but for the most part, MMA’s harsh words concerning boxing have been few and far between, save Dana White and his promoting expertise knocking the sport’s wrongdoings of recent years.

So what about mixed martial artists going into boxing? I’m not talking about fighters like Nick Diaz, Melvin Guillard, and Vitor Belfort, guys that only have a handful of professional fights under their belt.

To this day only Chris Lytle and Marcus Davis have made a splash in both ends of the spectrum. MMA for the most part doesn’t have an answer to boxing’s constant claims that no one from their sport can achieve success in the other.

Until now.

No, I’m not talking about Kimbo Slice. While I’m sure his years of fighting in the streets of Miami and training with American Top Team have molded him into a formidable striker in every aspect, I’m still dismissing Gary Shaw’s recent comments concerning Slice’s potential of becoming a force in boxing’s heavyweight division as nothing more than a marketing ploy.

Immediately after his win over Dan Henderson earlier this month, Anderson Silva mentioned that he is interested in entering the professional boxing ranks, namely to take on former pound-for-pound phenom Roy Jones Jr. The idea has since been repeated, both by Silva himself and his manager, Ed Soares.

Two questions come to mind concerning Silva’s potential venture: Should he do it? Will it happen?

Ever since Silva made the comments about Jones, I’ve seen various bloggers and fans alike both love and hate the idea. Personally, I think Silva doesn’t have anything to lose by challenging Jones. He’s obviously a very talented striker.

His style may not be totally compatible in the ring but Silva’s work ethic in the gym could make the transition a bit easier than many think.

With that said, just because Jones may no longer be in his prime and is getting older with each passing day, doesn’t mean that he won’t provide a solid challenge for Silva. After all, he’s won a slew of titles in four different weight classes and remains a dangerous fighter.

We have to remember that knees and kicks aren’t allowed in boxing, taking two-thirds of Silva’s striking repertoire away. I don’t see Silva fairing that well in a bout with Jones, at all. No matter how hard or often Silva trains leading up to the bout, Jones’ experience and overall skill will trump anything that Silva will bring to the table.

Then again, Silva certainly has the ability to prove the doubters wrong.

Regardless, I’d still like to see it and so would many others. It would be an historic event. One of the best ever in one sport going up against a potential all-time great in another. Boxing vs MMA. It’d be huge.

Would it even take place though? While one would automatically assume that Dana White and the UFC’s infamous exclusive contracts would prevent Silva from stepping anywhere near a ring, Jones Jr. is historically stubborn himself, usually only fighting on his terms and when he feels like it these days.

Then again, everybody has a price. White’s past association with boxing is strong enough to at least make him consider things. If White and Don King (who I believe has the promotional rights to Jones but I could be mistaken) could strike a deal where both sides could come out of the proceedings better than ever, we could be witnessing history in the making shortly.

The timing couldn’t be better. After dispatching of Felix Trinidad last month, Jones has nothing on his plate. While a possible championship rematch against Yushin Okami looms for Silva, it’s nothing that a top contenders fight between Okami and Nate Marquardt couldn’t solve.


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