Jr. will return to the ring on March 21 to take on the little-known Omar Sheika in a card that he's promoting himself, with mixed martial arts fights featuring Seth Petruzelli
and Bobby Lashley
on the undercard.
Combining boxing and MMA has been tried before, although never in a card featuring a fighter as well known as Jones. And although neither Petruzelli nor Lashley is anywhere close to being a great MMA fighter, they're both well known: Petruzelli beat Kimbo Slice
on national television in October, while Lashley was once among the most popular pro wrestlers in the WWE. Another MMA fight on the card is supposed to match Roy Nelson
against Jeff Monson
, although Monson's legal problems
could make that difficult.
The card will take place at the Pensacola Civic Center
and be shown on pay-per-view, but will anyone buy it? I have a hard time seeing this selling very well. Jones was once the best boxer in the world, but that was a long time ago. He's 40 years old now, and he got destroyed in his last fight, a unanimous decision loss to Joe Calzaghe. How many people want to spend $50 to watch an over-the-hill Jones against an opponent only the most hard-core of boxing fans have ever heard of?
I also have my doubts about the pay-per-view worthiness of the MMA offerings. Nelson vs. Monson and Petruzelli vs. Doug Marshall are OK fights, but not the kinds of fights that fans will plunk down their hard-earned money to purchase. Lashley is probably the biggest draw of the MMA bunch, but his opponent hasn't been named yet.
And then there's the question of whether boxing fans want to watch MMA and MMA fans want to watch boxing. In general, there isn't a lot of crossover between the two. I personally love both boxing and MMA and would love to see cards like this succeed, but I have my doubts.