In what’s shaping up to be a landmark fight, former WBO heavyweight boxing champion, “Merciless” Ray Mercer, will face famed street brawler, Kimbo Slice, at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday, June 23rd.
Q. First of all, what made you decide to take a fight under mixed martial arts rules?
A. I haven’t boxed in almost two years. This is something I have always wanted to do. I don’t have too much going on right now so I thought I would give it a try. This is Kimbo’s first MMA match too, so I felt it would be a good fight.
Q. This is the first time in history that a boxer of your caliber has done something like this. How do you feel you will handle yourself in the cage?
A. I think I will do well. He will try to duke it out with me until we hit the floor. When it comes to punching, I have the advantage.
Q. Do you feel, in some way, like you are risking the credibility of boxing as a combat sport by taking on this challenge? In other words, if you lose, people will say 'See that, MMA is dominant over boxing.' Your thoughts on this?
A. I really don’t care what people say. Ray Mercer is going to do what Ray Mercer wants to do. Mohammed Ali fought a wrestler a long time ago and it didn’t tarnish boxing one bit. I believe a true champion should do new things and not be afraid to put it on the line. I’m doing something that no one else has done.
Q. What do you know about your opponent Kimbo?
A. Well, he doesn’t really have any boxing skills, but he’s tough and he hits very hard.
Q. How effective do you think a good street fighter can be in prize fighting?
A. Standing toe to toe with any man you can get tagged with a lucky punch. But in this case, I feel I can hold my own. He doesn’t have any ground game either, and I consider myself streetwise too.
Q. What do you think Kimbo's chances are against you?
A. Like I said, he hits hard, and he throws those wild hooks, but it comes back to the boxing skills and his lack of experience. He is built and very strong, but it takes more than that.
Q. A lot of top boxers like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Antonio Tarver have been critical of MMA, saying that its nothing but a street fight that takes minimal skill, at the same time saying boxing is an art that takes a certain level of athletic talent to succeed at a high level. What do you think about these statements?
A. No disrespect, but I think they are wrong. You take guys that have been doing MMA for 10 or 15 years, I don’t think a boxer could beat them. In boxing, you have a Ref that stops the fight if they fall, but as soon as an MMA match goes to the ground, the boxer is out of his element. On the floor, they can elbow or knee you. It does take a lot of skill to be a boxer, but that’s true in any sport. It takes a special kind of individual to fight MMA. I love boxing, it’s my sport, but this is totally different. Each has it’s place.
Q. Is this a one shot deal for you as far as MMA goes or are you looking to establish yourself in the sport?
A. I won’t know until we see how this one goes. I am taking it one step at a time. I am kind of old to start a brand new career. That’s extreme, but not impossible.
Q. Do you have any type of training in grappling?
A. Not at all, but I ‘m a big fan of wrestling. I’ve been watching it for years.
Q. What happens if the fight goes to the ground?
A. I do have a guy that I am working with. He is helping me with my base and defense, etc. I am working also with a guy from American Top Team.
Q. Anyone you’d like to thank?
A. Yes, thanks to my sponsor, Bobby Farrell, the President of First Valley Funding. And, to the fans, I am living my dream, doing what a man has to do. But please remember, boxing is my first love.