The future of the heavyweight division will not be gloving up on Saturday night in Oklahoma.
No, Kimbo Slice, we can safely say, at age 37, taking part in his first amateur or professional boxing match, is not the future of the heavyweight division.
But that doesn't mean I don't wish his fight against 39-year-old James Wade, holder of an 0-1 mark as a pro, was off TV. On the contrary, I'd love to see how the man whose career was launched off his skills in backyard brawls, and transitioned to a romance in the MMA realm, looks in the ring.
Actually, I can pretty much predict what Slice will look like. He will look fearsome, the epitome of a man who you'd not like to be stuck in a dark alley with in a strange city at an ungodly hour. He will rush at Wade, and blast him with a dozen unanswered blows, and Wade, for the second straight fight, will fall to the canvas and stay on the canvas until the ref has safely reached the count of ten. I'd venture to say more than two minutes won't elapse before Slice is declared the winner in his boxing inaugural.
I dare say it would have made more sense to me had this occurred back in 2007 or so, when Kimbo's knees were that much sturdier. Instead, he debuted as a mixed martial artist in November of that year. To his credit, he bit off a big chunk of challenge.
Really, no one can say Slice didn't give it a full go. He had eight bouts in MMA, two exhibitions and six real scraps. He went 1-1 in exhibitions, splitting fights against Ray Mercer and Roy Nelson, and 4-2 in sanctioned contests. But if it were me managing him, I'd have tried mightily to get him right into the sweet science, where his blend of a fearsome look–lord, this guy was tailor made to fight Stallone in a Rocky flick, wasn't he?–and decent boxing skills* maybe would have allowed him to get to 15-0 within two years, and maybe land him a multimillion dollar shot against a Klitschko.
Maybe, I say, as Slice periodically loses his train of thought in his pursuit of athletic accomplishment. He started training to enter the ring the end of last year, changed his mind, went on hiatus, did some film work, and then re-changed his mind.
At 37, with that much more wear and tear on his body, and his mind, having put up with a boatload of being told what to do, the odds are good that Slice's boxing foray gets halted before too long, before promoter Gary Shaw gets him to the promised land, a megabucks cashout fight.
The promoter, to his credit, isn't overselling Slice as the next big thing, the man to rescue fight fans from the rule of Klitschko.
Shaw said Slice has been training with striking coach Randy Khatami, who isn't a boxing trainer, and Shaw isn't all that enthused by that choice. He'd set up Slice with Alfredo Angulo's trainer, Clemente Medina, last year, and that tutor-student relationship would've sat better in Shaw's mind. Are we going to see a Klitschko killer on Saturday night if we are at the Buffalo Run Casino, Gary?
“It's more to see how comfortable he is in the ring and he knows to make a move, he's got to change trainers, get more disciplined,” Shaw said. “The best thing for him is the heavyweight division is really light, so he can move up quickly.
“I don't think he'd be ready for a Klitschko in six months. I think he'd be ready to move up substantially in six months. I'd like to fight him every six to eight weeks. We'll see what we have. I'm not interested in a Butterbean type of guy. If he can box, he can box. If he can't box competitively on that level, we'll step back in a different direction.”
Hey, you bustin on da Bean?
“I want him to fight more than four rounders,” Shaw explained. “He's got a lot of pride and to be king of the four rounders, that's not Kimbo Slice.”
I sort of threw up my hands at the entirety of the division when I watched that pacifists's waltz between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye, a match between two reluctant men who both looked like they were better suited off for a vocation that didn't involve possibly getting hit hard on the chin, they were so risk averse. Sure, Klitschko is technically skilled, and part of me can appreciate his skills, his discipline. But I'm a fan of fighting, and his brand of fighting, ultra cautious, robotic, isn't my thing. I'll venture to say there could well be more goofy drama, and thrills, and humor, in this Kimbo Slice entrance into boxing than anything I've seen from Wlad since he used to meltdown when his chin got touched.
*=I showed Emanuel Steward video of Slice in action, from his backyard butt-thrashing days, last year, and Steward was impressed. He liked Slice's head movement and ability to put his punches together. So you can scoff at his skills if you want, but just know Steward didn't scoff. Part of him was likely thinking with his manager brain, knowing that with that look, and persona, he and Slice could make money together.