For better or for worse, 46-year-old UFC legend Anderson Silva will return to the familiar platform of pay-per-view fighting on Saturday, only this time it will come in the sport of boxing.
Silva (34-11, 1 NC in MMA) will take on former boxing middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 34 KOs) in an eight-round professional bout at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico. The bout shares co-billing with an exhibition pairing Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. against Hector Camacho Jr.
It may have been many decades ago but Silva, the former UFC middleweight champion, took part in a pair of professional boxing matches in his native Brazil -- in 1998 and 2005 -- and finished with a record of 1-1. This time the stakes and level of attention placed upon the fight are much different, as is the contracted weight.
According to Silva, this weekend's celebrity fight was contracted for 82.5 kilos, which equates to roughly 181 pounds. What makes that significant is that Silva fought most of his MMA career at 185 pounds, along with a handful of spinoff fights as high as 205 pounds. Chavez, on the other hand, won a world title at 160 pounds in boxing yet never won a meaningful fight again above that weight despite multiple attempts to resurrect his career at 168 and 175 pounds.
In fact, it's that Chavez, 35, has become such a laughing stock in professional boxing due to his lack of professionalism -- from drug suspensions and a lack of discipline in training to outright quitting in the middle of fights -- that has the potential to make this circus matchup oddly competitive.
As long as Silva can make the weight in a healthy manner at his age, he will have enough of a size advantage on the chronically underachieving Chavez that this could get interesting.
"We hope so [that Silva made a mistake accepting the fight,]" Chavez's father, Julio Sr., told "Morning Kombat" on Thursday. "The thing that worries me about this fight is the weight. My son has never fought at this weight before so it is something that I am very worried about."
As far as his recent track record, Chavez has been horrible. He asked out of a fight against light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara in 2015 when they met at a catchweight of 172 pounds. Chavez was also lifeless and unwilling to let his hands go in a PPV loss to pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez in 2017.
The last fight of major note for Chavez came against former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs in 2019 when Chavez, after failing to make weight, asked out of the fight again claiming injury and was pelted with trash and beer by the pro-Mexican crowd in Phoenix. Chavez's next fight against unbeaten Mario Abel Cazares ended in a technical decision loss after an accidental cut forced Chavez to retire once again.
"In the contract, it's 82.5 kilos and that's a good challenge for us -- for Chavez and for me, too," Silva told "Morning Kombat" this week. "But I think everyone is prepared for that and are prepared to make a good show in this fight.
"I love to fight and I'm so lucky that I am here. I am so excited to challenge myself in boxing."
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Asked if he needs to win this fight in order to continue possible future boxing fights in this big-money celebrity era against anyone from Logan and Jake Paul to Oscar De La Hoya or Roy Jones Jr., Silva said he's simply focused on giving his best effort.
"Everything is connected -- entertaining the people, winning the fight and showing my respect for boxing," Silva said. "As of right now, I'm just going to try to do my best. I don't need to prove anything to anybody. I'm an athlete and I train to win and anything is possible. I accepted this challenge but I don't like to do anything that would disrespect the boxing community. I'm trying to do something special in the ring on Saturday for my fans.
"Listen, everything is possible in this sport right now in terms of entertainment. I don't know if I will fight boxing again very soon or if I will fight in jiu-jitsu. But I am looking to do my best on both sides."
Saturday night will be a big one for the whole Chavez family. The card, dubbed "Tribute to the Kings", will also feature Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. in a special exhibition bout against the son of his former foe in Hector Camacho Jr. Chavez Sr., 58, took part in a special exhibition last year as well when he went three rounds with Jorge Arce for a third time. Camacho Jr., 42, has not fought professionally since 2014.
Plus, Chavez's other son, Omar, will return to the ring for the first time since 2019 when he rematches Ramon Alvarez. Chavez scored a TKO over Alvarez in their first meeting in 2017. Alvarez also represents the last win of Chavez's pro career as he lost a pair of fights in 2017 and 2018 by decision. He's never been knocked out.
Below is all the info you need for the fight card with how to watch the festivities as well as a prediction for the co-main event.
- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Anderson Silva, eight-round contracted weight
- Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. vs. Hector Camacho Jr., special exhibition
- Omar Chavez vs. Ramon Alvarez, middleweights
- Date: June 19 | Location: Estadio Jalisco -- Guadalajara, Mexico
- Start time: 9 p.m. ET | How to watch/stream: FITE TV
When Chavez Jr. is involved, literally anything is possible. Yet, even with the size disadvantage, his youth and experience should be enough to outbox the older and far more inexperienced Silva, in terms of boxing, over the eight-round distance.
The key for Chavez, as it always is, will be his commitment to the body. Provided he put the work in training camp and pushes the pace against Silva from the opening bell, the combination of Chavez's jab and willingness to get inside should be more than enough to stay out of trouble and cruise to a decision.
For Silva, he's going to have to use what's left of his quickness and feints to land the type of big punch that would dissuade Chavez's forward progress. Making such a transition back into boxing after years of perfecting his MMA striking skillset won't be easy and fans shouldn't expect him to. Unless he can use his size as a weapon inside, this could be a long night for the "Spider."
Pick: Chavez via UD8