There was a lightness, a giddiness about Anderson Silva in the weeks main as much as his return to long-awaited boxing.
“At this moment in my life, I’m just doing something I like to do,” the UFC legend lately advised The Post through Zoom. “I’m free to fight MMA again or boxing or kickboxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, anything. Because I like [to] fight. I like challenges.”
The first aggressive problem of the post-UFC section of Silva’s fight sports activities profession arrives Saturday evening at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, when he’ll step into the ring for the primary time in 16 years towards Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at an occasion dubbed Tribute to the Kings.
The pay-per-view occasion carries a advised retail price ticket of $39.99, with the primary card scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The final time he laced up boxing gloves — that are of course bigger than MMA gloves — got here in his native Brazil towards debuting fighter Julio Cesar De Jesus. He gained that combat by second-round knockout, lifting his document in the boxing ring to 1-1 after having dropped his personal professional debut in the game 23 years in the past. That’s half a lifetime in the past for the 46-year-old, and it got here a few yr earlier than he signed on with the UFC, the place he grew to become probably the most completed middleweight in the game’s historical past.
Those two bouts, although a long time in the past, are extra boxing expertise than another current high-profile combined martial artists have taken in with them as they’ve tried their hand at boxing. Conor McGregor made his professional debut towards the legendary Floyd Mayweather Jr. 4 years in the past, and Ben Askren did the identical when he confronted YouTube influencer-turned-major boxing draw Jake Paul in April. Each was stopped by his respective opponent.
But even with somewhat bit of professional boxing expertise below his belt, to go together with a long time of coaching in the self-discipline alongside his MMA and different particular person self-discipline coaching, Silva is aware of that this opponent is a distinct beast. It’s not fairly the step up McGregor made towards Mayweather, however Chavez Jr. has competed as a high-level boxer for years.
“A long, long time ago,” Silva says of his previous as a pugilist. “Of course, it’s a different level right now, but I try to enjoy [it]. I try to [absorb] and learn new technique with my team.”
The journey seems to be most attention-grabbing to Silva. He’s keen about boxing and was overtly discussing his need to field all-time nice Roy Jones Jr. way back to 2008, a couple of years into his prolonged reign as champion at 185 kilos. That’s a combat Silva gained’t rule out for the longer term, though he’s content material to take alternatives as they arrive.
As a bonus for Silva, he’ll be sharing the cardboard along with his opponent’s father, the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., as he returned for an exhibition towards Hector Camacho Jr. — himself the son of the elder Chavez’s profession nemesis.
“This is a special show,” Silva stated with a large smile. “Julio Cesar Chavez [Sr.] is a good fighter. It’s the last fight. I’m a big fan, and I fight on the same card [as him]. It’s incredible for me. I’m very lucky.”
Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 34 KOs), who missed the contracted 182-pound weight restrict and because of this forfeited $100,000 to Silva, would determine to have the gang on his facet. He’s additionally 11 years youthful than the MMA legend, and he’s been in the ring with some of the very best middleweights in boxing in current years, together with Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs and Sergio Martinez. Those bouts account for 3 of his 5 defeats, together with quitting after the fifth spherical towards Brooklyn native Jacobs — towards whom Chavez Jr. additionally did not make weight, forfeiting $1 million in the method.
The son of the legend has had a peculiar run the previous few years, which might be one thing that works in Silva’s favor. But Silva is a martial artist at coronary heart and respects the hazard all opponents current, regardless of the self-discipline.
“Every single fight is dangerous,” Silva stated. “When you go inside the cage or go inside the ring, it’s danger.”
Silva’s MMA spotlight reel is full of a various array of strikes and submissions. He’s leveled opponents with knees, elbows, kicks and punches. He’s punished elite wrestlers and grapplers with chokes. Before ending his 14-year UFC tenure on a 1-7 stretch (with one different victory overturned by a optimistic check for a pair of steroids), Silva had amassed a 33-4 mark with 26 finishes, many of that are among the many most iconic assortment of KOs and tapouts in the game’s relatively-young historical past.
Perhaps probably the most spectacular show of how harmful his palms are, in explicit, got here in a one-off combat up a weight class in the midst of his middleweight title run, when he schooled Forrest Griffin simply eight months after the opponent had misplaced the sunshine heavyweight title. Almost solely using his palms for the three:23 the bout lasted, Silva channeled Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix” in avoiding Griffin’s punches and dropped him on three events. The final one got here on a jab whereas transferring backwards, prompting a floored Griffin to all however say “No mas.”
Silva nonetheless is grateful for the “magic moment” that got here from that combat towards Griffin, whom he known as “a legend in the sport” and professed his gratitude for going through in August 2009.
“I remember watching a lot of videos about Muhammad Ali, and it inspired me a lot,” recalled Silva of the leadup to the Griffin bout. “I go, ‘I’ll try to do the same [on] this night.’ I trained hard, tried to enjoy the moment and pass the real heart, you know, how much I’m happy when I fight. And that fight, I think I was successful in this fight.”
But that was MMA, and it was 12 years in the past. Silva has understandably misplaced a step in his mid 40s. He recovered from a fractured decrease leg suffered on the finish of 2013. He was completed by head strikes for the primary time in seven years final October in what was the ultimate combat of his UFC profession.
And but Silva is snug along with his myriad accomplishments coming into his return to boxing and is content material to soak in the expertise as he continues his martial arts journey in a distinct self-discipline than the one combat followers have been watching him in for thus a few years.
“I try to enjoy because, in this moment in my life, I’m so happy,” stated Silva, once more flashing a large, happy smile. “I don’t need to prove nothing for anybody. I just try to enjoy every single moment.”