Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson is changing careers yet again after a short-lived attempt to transition from MMA to the sport of boxing. Slice, who first became famous from his viral videos, is now set to start a professional wrestling stint in Japan with The Inoki Genome Federation, and his scheduled debut is slated for February 5, 2011. This latest move came after Slice's brief foray into pugilism, which was delayed by Slice's appearance on the popular reality series Survivor last year.
Kimbo's limited mobility due to a bad knee and his lack of enthusiasm and drive led his handlers, namely Promoter Jared Shaw, to conclude boxing is no longer an option for the former street fighter:
"Upon his return, he didn't show me any interest in boxing, so we just decided for right now to put it to the side," Shaw said. "Due to the wear and tear on his body, he wasn't able to perform up to the standard we wanted him to."
Jared Shaw is the son of Gary Shaw, who was one of the first people to ever mention the idea of Slice going into boxing. Slice has a natural peek-a-boo style of stand up fighting reminiscent of Mike Tyson, and Gary Shaw recognized that early in Kimbo's MMA career with EliteXC. At one point the plan was for Slice to compete in both sports at the same time, but it wasn't until the UFC released Kimbo that his boxing plans seemed to be truly serious.
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During one conference call I participated in during the early days of EliteXC, Gary Shaw gushed about Kimbo's natural boxing ability and seemed intent on getting his newfound talent into a pair of boxing gloves. When I asked Slice during the call what his ultimate goal was in MMA, he admitted he was in it for the money. "It's all about the paper," he told me. Another reporter asked him what the difference was between his backyard fighting and fighting in the cage. He explained that before all of his street fights he would get high on drugs, but for his MMA fights he cleaned himself up and quit both drugs and alcohol to work with legendary MMA Fighter Bas Rutten as a trainer.
Rutten eventually gave up on Slice not too long before Seth Petruzelli took just 14 seconds to demolish him in a fight that was supposed to be between Slice and Ken Shamrock. Slice resurrected his MMA career and wound up as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter. The show exposed Kimbo's weaknesses, and above all of his shortcomings his battered knee seemed to be the number one concern. Dana White was particularly outspoken about Slice's damaged knee and "blew up his spot" in many ways by talking so much about it on the show. Slice still made it through the show and faced a reluctant-to-engage Houston Alexander in his first sanctioned UFC fight. He won by unanimous decision despite Alexander targeting the bad knee with a series of leg kicks in the fight. Another veteran of the same TUF show, Matt "Meathead" Mitrione ended Slice's UFC career with a one-sided beat down that led to Slice's release and retirement from the sport.
Though it's not clear yet what prompted Ferguson to go from street fighting to cage fighting to fake fighting, the most likely reason is that wrestling in Japan will provide him an opportunity to gather more "paper" with far less risk. Perhaps it was all that hype about Brock Lesnar quitting the UFC to go back to the WWE (a story that turned out to be entirely false) that made the dollar signs dance in Kimbo's head. Maybe he thinks that a year or two in the Japanese circuit will lead to a big money WWE contract of his own.
Although I would have rather seen Kimbo bash someone up against the ropes in a boxing match, I suppose I will just have to wait for the next Kimbo viral video featuring him jumping off the top rope to bash someone.