In 2008, a fight between boxing legend Roy Jones Jr, then 39, and UFC star Anderson Silva, then 33, was proposed, or at least the idea of a fight between the two — in a boxing ring — was proposed.
Silva was riding high as one of the top fighters in the mixed martial arts world, seen by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at that time, while Jones was already years past his best days. But in boxing, Jones figured to still have the edge. He’d just beaten a blown-up, coming-out-of-retirement Felix “Tito” Trinidad in a 170-pound fight on Jan. 19 of that year, while Silva was coming off of a second round submission win over Dan Henderson at UFC 82.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Jones would wind up fighting and badly losing to Joe Calzaghe in Nov. 2008, and continued to fight in boxing — to mostly poor or just plain ignored results — until a 2018 retirement bout. Silva would keep on winning in UFC until losing back-to-back fights to Chris Weidman in 2013, and while he has most recently fought in Oct. 2020, he’s 1-5 with a no-contest since then.
The fight has been brought up seemingly once a year for the last 13 years, and it’s a pretty new year, so here we are again.
Silva’s 45 now. Jones is 52. And yet Jones still wants the fight:
First of all, congrats to Roy on getting what he really wanted: a bit of extra exposure for his new music.
But I have no doubt that Jones (66-9, 47 KO) would fight Silva if there were a real offer. And I also have no doubt there’d still be some interest in that fight.
Silva (34-11 in MMA) is now a bona fide legend, a first ballot Hall of Famer in his sport without any question whatsoever, same as Jones was already by 2008. (I realize Silva probably already was by 2008, too, but just conversatin’ here.)
He’s long past what he was in his prime, and obviously so is Jones, even more than 13 years ago. We last saw Jones in Nov. 2020, facing Mike Tyson in an exhibition bout. He wasn’t in very good shape, quite honestly, but he also hadn’t trained for a real, actual fight, no matter what either of them said in the build-up. And the fact of the matter is, Tyson-Jones was a huge pay-per-view hit, and only a small minority of those who laid down $50 to see it came away disappointed by the exhibition nature of the contest or the show in general.
Now obviously the No. 1 draw of Tyson-Jones was Mike Tyson. Jones was a star in his day, but Mike Tyson was the star in his day, stretching far, far beyond boxing. He’s a recognizable global sporting icon and, to many, the last true heavyweight superstar. And the Jake Paul vs Nate Robinson novelty fight had something to do with the buy rate, too.
But we’ve seen that people are still attracted to nostalgia. There’s a reason Triller have signed Antonio Tarver, and have him set to fight Frank Mir. Tarver — who beat Jones twice and lost, controversially, against him once — is not the big star Jones was, certainly not the big star Tyson was, but he has some name value.
Older demographics can drive pay-per-view sales; generally speaking, they probably have more disposable money than younger audiences, and they might be more bored, too. Jones’ fan base has gotten older, obviously. So has Silva’s. But they do still exist. And most of them, believe it or not, are not purists. They just like who they like.
Jones-Silva probably doesn’t sell a million on pay-per-view, but you don’t have to sell anywhere near a million to make good money, either.
You have to think Triller would be interested in this, or maybe some other upstart company. (I mean, who knows? None of us saw Triller coming, really.) Jones can do as he pleases. Silva was released by UFC in November, so that’s no issue for him to do what he wants. He’s said he wants to continue fighting.
As crazy as it is, this might be the time for Jones-Silva.
If it happens, will you pay to see it?