One of MMA’s all-time greats Anderson Silva successfully crossed over to boxing last night with a dominant decision win over Julio Chavez Jr in the squared circle.
Once the long-reigning UFC middleweight champion, the now 46-year-old Silva had only won once in his past nine MMA fights, but he appeared rejuvenated by the opportunity to fulfil a long held ambition to fight a big name in the boxing ring last night and appeared to turn back the clock at times, showing flashes of the striking and showmanship that made him a star well over a decade ago.
Silva had a size advantage over Chavez, but the former WBC middleweight champion boxer was 11-years his junior, still actively competes and held a 52-5 career record heading into this bout, making him the firm betting favorite pre-fight.
However, though Chavez edged out the opening round, Silva was already looking comfortable and showcased good footwork and solid defensive awareness, often catching his opponents punches on his gloves.
By the third round Silva was really starting to have fun in the ring, to the extent that after allowing himself to be backed up against the corner of the ring he dropped his hands and started demanding that Chavez come at him.
Not only that, but after successfully defending the blows that came and threatening with a counter hook and moving back to the center of the ring, Silva then purposefully backed up to the corner and waited for Chavez to follow him, which brought a big reaction from those watching.
We’ve seen Silva play these mind games before in the Octagon many times, and more often than not it’s a sign that he’s in the zone, and sure enough, from then on he began to clearly outbox Chavez Jr in the rounds that followed, and despite his age, he remained fresh, sharp and fleet of foot for the full eight rounds, even as his opponent began to wilt and increasingly sported damage to his face.
Both offensively and defensively Silva was on-point and he also showed the depth of his boxing ability by successfully getting the better of Chavez Jr at both range and close quarters.
In the end the fight went the distance, and of course given that Chavez Jr was on home soil in Mexico at an event celebrating the Chavez family, there was some shamefully biased judging, but thankfully Silva’s domination was clear-cut enough that it didn’t turn out to be an all-out robbery, with ‘The Spider’ being awarded a split decision victory (77-75 x2, 75-77).
However, most observers correctly scored the fight as a clear unanimous decision victory for Silva and with a considerably wider margin on the scorecards in his favor than the official judges were willing to admit to here.
So it was a great night for Silva and a pleasure for MMA fans to see one of the sports legends looking more like his old self than his MMA fights in recent years, while perhaps even open-minded boxing fans will have gained some new-found respect for the hall-of-famers abilities in the ring.