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Ex-UFC champ Frank Mir faces Antonio Tarver in boxing match on Ben Askren vs. Jake Paul undercard

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former UFC champion Frank Mir will cross over to compete in boxing for the first time ever when he faces Antonio Tarver as part of the undercard for the upcoming Triller card headlined by Ben Askren vs. Jake Paul.

Multiple people with knowledge of the booking confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Thursday after Mir first mentioned the fight on social media.

“I am a competitor,” Mir wrote on Twitter. “I have been all my life. I take on challenges to grow and better myself as a person. I have always wanted to test myself in the boxing ring so when this opportunity arose I jumped on it. See you April 17th Antonio Tarver.”

A 32-fight veteran in MMA, Mir is widely considered one of the best heavyweights in the history of the sport as a former UFC champion and top contender throughout most of his career. He most recently fought in the Bellator cage, where he outpointed Roy Nelson via unanimous decision at Bellator 231 in October 2019.

Mir has faced a who’s who list of competition over the years, but this will be his first foray into boxing after he made his MMA debut back in 2001.

On his Phone Booth Fighting podcast with Richard Hunter, Mir said he was training in preparation for his debut with BKFC, with whom he signed this past fall, when an offer to fight Tarver was presented.

“It forces you to push yourself, and at the end of the day, it makes me a better warrior all the way around, which only makes me a better coach for [my daughter] Bella [Mir],” he said. “Now, instead of doing bare-knuckle boxing, it looks like my next showing will be a full-blown boxing match.”

Mir faces Tarver, who will return to the ring for the first time since 2015 when he fought to a draw with Steve Cunningham. The 52-year-old former champion, who’s held the WBA, WBC, IBO and IBF light heavyweight title and IBO cruiserweight titles, is best known for a trilogy of fights with Roy Jones Jr., where he avenged a majority decision in their first fight with a pair of victories in their next two meetings.

Mir vs. Tarver joins the upcoming pay-per-view card that will see Askren also cross over into boxing for the first time against Paul in the main event. Mir said the event could take place in Atlanta or somewhere in Florida.

“It’s very reminiscent of my first UFC fight,” he said. “I think I’m obviously being brought in on the B-side. I’m known in MMA more for my grappling than my striking, so I think it’s something where I bring a name, but maybe not dangerous to him on the surface. So hopefully, I’ll train hard and prove them wrong. I’m not going to make it any illusions about it. This is probably a safe warmup fight in their minds in what their corners are looking at.”

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