At the time, Silva was on top of the world as the best middleweight in the UFC and arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in all of mixed martial arts, which meant there was little chance the promotion was going to allow him to take a risky boxing match while he was still serving as their champion.
Years later, the UFC allowed Conor McGregor to engage in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather but Silva never got the chance until he left the organization and received an interesting call while he was on vacation with his family.
“I’m in Brazil on vacation, I’m training but not training for a fight and my manager called me and said ‘you have an interesting fight, I don’t know if you’ll like it or not but that’s the fight you have offered’ and I said whoa, that’s great,” Silva said about an offer to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on June 19.
“I said let me check it out and I’ll call back. Two days [later], I thought and I said I can do that. I accept the challenge. I accept the opportunity to do something in this sport, too.”
Almost exactly one year before he debuted in the UFC, Silva did pick up a win in his second professional boxing match while competing in his native Brazil.
While his path eventually led him to focus solely on MMA, Silva never forgot about his boxing aspirations, which is why he was so intrigued by the opportunity presented to him for the upcoming fight against Chavez Jr.
“It’s a good challenge for my mind, for my body because I learn everything new,” Silva explained. “Because boxing it’s not about your punch and beating the guy. It’s more technical. You need to take care about the technique, the position for your hands, your legs, your feet, this is amazing for me. I’m learning a lot and I’m enjoying my moment because this is very special.
“This is the one in my dreams in my entire life to fight in boxing at this level. I’m lucky. I pray every day and thank you god for giving me the whole opportunity, for giving me the salute for continuing to do my job, to continuing doing something I love. I’m so happy.”
On paper, Silva is a massive underdog going into the fight largely due to the vast experience advantage that Chavez Jr. will have with nearly 60 professional bouts on his boxing resume including past battles with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs and Peter Manfredo Jr.
Chavez Jr. also comes from the lineage of boxing royalty considering his father, Julio Cesar Chavez, is considered one of the greatest of all time after going 89-0 before tasting his first career defeat.
Of course, the now 46-year-old former UFC champion understands the daunting task ahead of him but don’t expect Silva to be intimidated or overwhelmed by the situation just because he’s not supposed to win.
“I fight for many, many years ago, I fought amateur, I fought professional, not this same level of boxing,” Silva said. “I made it successful in a different sport, in muay Thai and MMA. Now, everything I do inside the MMA world, I think I complete my mission. Me and my team, and I put my heart and whole passion into this sport. Now I need to do something for myself.
“Right now I’m having fun. Of course it’s a fight, it’s a real fight that I accept the challenge. Because when other people ask me about the fight, they say whoa that’s a good challenge for me but the difference for this fight … it’s a real fight.”
Obviously, Silva respects Chavez Jr. and the skills he’ll bring into the ring with him on Saturday night in Mexico.
The odds are stacked against Silva but that won’t stop him from giving everything he’s got in training with hopes of giving the performance of a lifetime when he straps on the gloves and starts throwing punches with Chavez Jr.
“It’s an amazing challenge but I don’t think about how much Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is a good one. I try to make my side better,” Silva said. “I try to make my training better. Because boxing is a different sport but it’s a contact sport. It’s a fight. I live my entire life in fight world and when you go inside the ring, it’s the same energy. You feel the same power inside your heart, inside your mind.
“The difference is because the technique and the rules but the other is the same. It’s two good fighters and you try to do the best you can. I try to make every single day something better in my training. My responsibility is making this fight good for showing my respect for the boxing community.”
Silva has said that boxing Chavez Jr. was something he did just for himself because boxing has always meant so much to him but he doesn’t know if this will be his only fight.
In an age where MMA fighters are receiving huge paydays to crossover to boxing including Silva’s former rival Vitor Belfort recently agreeing to a showdown with Oscar De La Hoya, he knows there will be opportunities beyond his bout this weekend.
That said, Silva is only focused on what’s directly in front of him and he’ll think about what comes next when the time is right.
“Let’s go see,” Silva said. “I have an amazing team right now training. Everybody helps me a lot to continue doing something special. For me, I talk to my kids everyday, try to make something for inspiring people to be successful and make something for others. That’s what I try to do everyday.”