Anderson Silva made a career in MMA out of making the impossible look possible. Now, he has done the same thing in boxing.
Silva, a UFC legend, defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. via split decision (75-77, 77-75, 77-75) in a shockingly impressive boxing performance Saturday night at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico.
A heavy underdog, Silva had not competed in boxing since 2005 and had just two pro boxing matches coming in. Chavez Jr., the son and namesake of Mexico's most popular boxing superstar, is a former WBC middleweight champion.
"I love fighting," Silva said in his postfight interview. "Boxing was my dream for many years. I needed to show my respect for boxing. I need to come here and do my best."
The bout was contested at 182 pounds with eight three-minute rounds. Chavez Jr. missed weight by 2.4 pounds Friday, forfeiting $100,000 of his purse to Silva. The event was dubbed "Tribute to the Kings" with the headliner pitting Chavez Sr. against Hector Camacho Jr., the son of his biggest rival, in an exhibition boxing match.
Silva's fight against Chavez Jr. started slow, but Silva started to gain confidence in the third round and looked like the vintage version of the MMA all-time great. He started dropping his hands and taunting Chavez Jr. in the third round, a stunning display, considering the enormous gap in boxing experience. Silva carried that confidence and started hurting Chavez Jr. in the fourth round with combinations and a long, straight left. Silva, a southpaw, showed off a solid, snapping jab as well.
Chavez Jr. had some moments with body shots and left hooks, but never really hurt Silva. In the seventh, Silva opened up a cut near Chavez Jr.'s right eye, which started bleeding worse in the eighth round.
"I think it could have been a draw," Chavez Jr. said. "I failed to throw more punches. He didn't do much damage. There were a few rounds that went back and forth."
Silva outlanded Chavez Jr. 99-53 in total punches and 60-41 in power punches, per CompuBox. Afterward, Canelo Alvarez, the world's best pound-for-pound boxer, came up to Silva and gave him a "salute," Silva said.
"I don't believe it," Silva said. "Canelo come talk to me. I'm so happy."
Silva has been talking about doing a boxing match for a decade or so, but had been under contract with the UFC. Silva always said a boxing bout with Roy Jones Jr. was a dream and goal of his. Maybe now it can happen at both of their advanced ages.
Silva (2-1) is one of the greatest champions in MMA history. The Brazil native held the UFC middleweight title for seven years, the longest reign in promotion history. "The Spider" owns the longest winning streak in UFC history (16) and the most finishes in UFC title fights (nine). Silva, 46, asked for his release from the UFC last November, and it was granted. He has just one MMA victory since 2012.
Chavez Jr. (52-6-1) has lost four of his past six fights. He is indefinitely suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and the Arizona Boxing & MMA Commission for refusing to take a drug test before a fight with Danny Jacobs in 2019.
Chavez Jr., 35, has never quite lived up to the lofty family expectations, though he does own wins over Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee. He has dropped high-profile bouts to Canelo Alvarez and Jacobs.
On the undercard, Ramon Alvarez, brother of Canelo, beat Omar Chavez, son of Chavez Sr. and brother of Chavez Jr., via unanimous decision.