“So to cure the stigma that we don’t like MMA or that we’re against it, to prove my point, I’m going to start promoting them too,” Jones said. “And they have a huge fan base too. They love fighting. Boxing. Ultimate fighting. It’s all still fighting.”
Jones said he does not understand the boxing-versus-MMA mentality.
“Why do people keep trying to pull us apart?” he asked. “Why not come together and make for an even bigger situation and make it better for both sports? MMA has something that boxing doesn’t have, which boxing needs to acknowledge.”
For those out of the loop, Jones' Square Ring Promotions will be putting on a pay-per-view show on March 21 from Pensacola, Fla., which will mix MMA and boxing for the first time on a "major" show.
On the boxing side, 40-year old Jones (52-5, 38 KO) will look to get back in the win column following a horribly one-sided loss to Joe Calzaghe in their bomb of a November pay-per-view, which had a lot of money behind it but was promoted terribly and featured an undercard that was even worse. He'll face 32-year old Omar Sheika (27-8, 18 KO), who hasn't fought since September 2007 and has lost both of his last two notable fights (Jeff Lacy and Markus Beyer).
Also, recently signed Square Ring cruiserweight contender B.J. Flores (22-0, 14 KO) will supposedly be in action, but we'll see if he has the guff to take on a legitimate opponent or if he'll just protect his IBF ranking and fight some schmoe, as he did on January 23, when he fought as a 207-pound heavyweight against 261-pound Matt "Hurricane" Hicks.
The MMA side is a little more interesting. Seth Petruzelli, the man who knocked out Kimbo Slice and then questionably dressed as him for Halloween, will take on former WEC light heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion Doug Marshall. In a heavyweight bout, noted troublemaking punk rocker bleehhh!!! Jeff Monson will fight Roy Nelson, and in the big interest-generating hail mary, former forgettable WWE star Bobby Lashley will be fighting.
I sort of want to think Roy is doing this for some sense of unity, but really I'd bet the farm that he's doing this to hopefully piggyback on the popularity of mixed martial arts -- or more accurately the popularity of UFC, which more people are starting to realize but few have yet to grasp -- and sell some PPVs in a crap fight against an opponent that hasn't fought in 17 months. Jones-Sheika is for Jones an attempt at a sure bet that he can win another one, let the Calzaghe loss get washed over, and land another money fight later this year. That's all it is.
And by including MMA, he's hoping to convince more people than loonies like me to pay for this card. If boxing and MMA are going to unify the fanbases (and it's unlikely to see any more of a crossover than it already has), it won't be because of fights like Jones-Sheika or Nelson-Monson.
Bad Left Hook and Bloody Elbow will be teaming up to cover "March Badness," as I'll handle the boxing portion of the show and BE's Brent Brookhouse will be doing the MMA portion. It should be an interesting night. But I guess at least in terms of the SB Nation combat blogs, Roy's unity mission is a success already.