I’m not sure if this a great marketing idea or a sad commentary on the state of the heavyweight division in boxing — or both — but if I am a boxing promoter I would be trying to sign Kimbo Slice to dump MMA for the sweet science.
If you don’t know the name, Kimbo was a You Tube sensation as a backyard brawler, who then got into mixed martial arts and headlined a couple televised cards until he got knocked out.
Now he is a contestant on the current season on Spike’s Ultimate Fighter UFC reality show. And in the episode that aired Wednesday night, he lost his first-round match-up when he got exposed for having no idea how to maneuver a UFC ring.
Here’s the bottom line – Slice has sledgehammers for hands, but has no idea how to fight when the contest goes to the ground – a must if you are going to succeed in MMA.
But Slice has one other thing, and he has it to spare – charisma. And I mean tons of it. His interview clips on Ultimate Fighter are fantastic, he is infinitely likeable and absolutely hysterical. That’s why all the promos for next week’s episode are totally centered on teasing a possible Slice comeback.
Now let’s talk about the heavyweight division in boxing. It’s a disaster. The latest heavyweight “title” fight featured Vitali Klitschko systematically abusing yet another pretender on HBO last weekend. Perhaps the greatest entertainment value during the fight came from my wife and friends who came over the fight, as we constantly tried to one-up each other with constant plays on the last name of said pretender: Arreola.
Basically, the heavyweight division stinks because there are two brothers who in essence share the heavyweight championship, and they have vowed never to fight each other. The problem is that there is no one – and I mean no one – within sight of the Klitschkos from a talent perspective. Every couple months, one of them goes out – usually in a packed arena in Germany – and disposed of some falsely built-up contender with a very methodical approach that rarely fails – and worse yet – only moderately entertains.
Starting to see the marriage? In one corner, you have a heavy-handed, charismatic brawler with a built-in following who can fight standing up but has no clue what to do on the ground. In the other corner, a heavyweight division devoid of anything remotely interesting, crying out for some sort of injection of personality.
Now I am not saying throw Slice in there against a Klitschko tomorrow, I’m talking about some fights to get his feet wet and build some interest. The tune-in would be great from the outset to see if one of the best-known brawlers is better suited for the ring than the octagon. Plus his personality could absolutely carry an installment of HBO’s award-winning 24/7 reality series leading up to a fight.
But no matter who he fought, Slice would do something to heavyweight boxing that no one has been able to do in too long – get people to remotely care.