Kimbo Slice: From the Backyard to Cage Fury

28.05.07 - By Steven Shabo: The world will soon know. The world will soon know if the man they call Kimbo Slice can really fight. We will finally know if this Miami bodyguard is more than just a bare-knuckle brawler and super-hyped internet creation. On June 23, 2007, Slice will make his professional mixed martial arts debut against former heavyweight champ Ray Mercer at the Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

To this day, the legend has been well documented. In the early 2000ís, underground fight videos began appearing on the internet of Kimbo Slice brutally beating up opponents before small bloodthirsty crowds in backyards and vacant parking lots. These fights were wagered on and were completely unsanctioned and unsupervised. Furthermore, most of Sliceís scared opponents appeared to have very limited fighting ability which is what made these crude videos particularly cruel and savage. However, through all the savagery, Kimbo Slice went from violent obscurity to international stardom. Twenty years ago, the world would have never known the name of a thirty-something bare-knuckle fighter. But in the era of YouTube and My Space, Kimbo Slice has become something of a cult hero. Rolling Stone magazine even referred to him as the ďKing of the Web Brawlers.Ē

The question I ask myself is ďwhy?Ē Even after Slice lost one of his fights to a Boston Police Officer who possessed some raw mixed martial arts training, he was still offered $50,000 to fight a forty-five year old washed-up Ray Mercer. Itís been reported that the winner will receive an additional $25,000 with a $10,000 bonus if a knockout is delivered. Therefore, it is possible that the winner of this three round match could earn a potential $85,000 which is more money than Slice has ever earned from any of his bare-knuckle victories.

Perhaps, Kimbo Slice is simply a man in the right place at the right time. With the recent popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a flood of MMA start-up outfits have emerged on the scene with dreams of making big bucks. Slice could have become a professional boxer fighting for small purses with little hope of ever getting a title shot. But instead, he opted to become a MMA fighter where he could make the fast money. At a time when boxing has lost many fans as a result of rip off pay-per-views, undeserving champions, and suspect rankings, many have turned to mixed martial arts in search of a new brand of violence that delivers. And deliver it has, both HBO and Showtime have jumped on the bandwagon and have now included MMA in their sportsí programming.

The fight world recently watched the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight in what amounted to nothing more than a boring chess match. Yet, despite this, both boxers made a reported $70 million combined. Kimbo Slice will never see that kind of money in his lifetime. He will never possess the skill of either of those boxers no matter how hard he trains. But Kimbo Slice has something. He has something many boxers donít have nowadays. Maybe he is a throwback from another time. Maybe he should have lived in the day when fighters like Jack Dempsey ruled the world. When I see Kimbo Slice in those videos, I think of a ruthless gladiator spirit from years ago, when fighters fought in backyards simply for the love of the fight.

But even gladiators like Jack Dempsey wanted to get paid, the same way Iím sure Kimbo Slice wants to get paid. However, today, thatís the only thing many boxers appear to be concerned about. They fight safe boring fights and in return make a lot of money. To an average person that seems completely logical, make the most money with the least amount of risk. But for fight fans wanting to see a war, itís all wrong. But then again, wrong is usually right in the fight game. Does someone like Kimbo Slice deserve to be here? Does someone with questionable credentials, but willing to put it all on the line deserve to be center stage?

When I see an overpaid sore winner like Floyd Mayweather, I say yes he does. But in the end, it doesnít really matter what I think. It doesnít really matter if Kimbo Slice can fight. It doesnít matter if he beats Ray Mercer. It doesnít even matter if he fights a bare-knuckle match ever again. Kimbo Slice is here and for that reason alone, heís already won the fight.

Article posted on 28.05.2007

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