Are you already bracing yourself for the latest crossover fight, battle of legends, boxing vs MMA showdown – in fact, you can pretty much call the upcoming Antonio Tarver-Frank Mir fight whatever you want to call it – or have you not heard the news? Yes, it’s true, 52-year-old Tarver will face 41-year-old Mir on April 17, the fight to take place on the Jake Paul-Ben Askren card in Atlanta, this offering to go out on Triller pay-per-view. Yes, that’s right, fans are expected to pay to see this stuff. But what kind of stuff will we witness when Tarver and Mir collide in a fight that is scheduled for ten rounds and will be fought under boxing rules?
Both Tarver, the former light-heavyweight champ, and Mir, the former UFC heavyweight champion, have seen better days. Both guys should know better than to keep on fighting at such an advanced age, Tarver especially. But with the whole sport of boxing currently experiencing a, how shall I put it, strange period, where nostalgia is king and exhibitions along with the return of former greats is hot stuff (Lennox Lewis even appearing to sling his hat into the ring of action, suggesting he will fight Mike Tyson in a rematch “if the people want it”), this is the kind of oddity of a match-up that we have come to expect.
Tarver, 31-6(22) and never stopped, last fought back in August of 2015, when he and Steve Cunningham plodded through a 12 round draw. Tarver, who fancied himself as a heavyweight, looked dreadful in his fight prior to that, when he managed to spring to life in the seventh round and stop a far from interested Johnathon Banks. You have to go back to 2008, to Tarver’s decision win over Clinton Woods, in order to find his last meaningful win. Mir, a southpaw like “The Magic Man” who ran out of magic years ago, is 19-13(10) as an MMA fighter. He has never had a boxing match, though the man who is fluent in the arts of karate and Jiu-Jitsu says he has always wanted to try his hand at The Sweet Science.
Mir is taking on some unexpected debut here.
Both men can be expected to enter the ring in shape, Mir especially. But that aside, this whole thing is basically a lottery. Will it be an embarrassment, for both fighters, but more importantly, for the sport? Will one of these two veterans who should have stuck to commentating (where both guys have been excellent) get hurt? Will the April fight surprise us and actually turn out to be a good, fun fight? Your guess is as good as mine.
We’ve seen some crazy moves on the part of former boxing champs these last few months – the Tyson-Jones affair, Paulie Malignaggi and now DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley moving into bare knuckle fighting (where Mir himself seemed headed) – but this match-up might just take the biscuit. Who wins, Mir or Tarver? A better question might be, will both guys get out in one piece? If not physically and mentally, then at least from a reputation standpoint. Or is it too late for that?
Let’s wish both men the best of luck. They will need it.