By Nick Tylwalk
Kimbo Slice and Jermain Tyler are coming to a boxing ring near you. Not against each other, though.
At least I hope not.
Let's talk about Kimbo first. The artist formerly known as Kevin Ferguson is set to make his pro boxing debut in a four-rounder on August 13. Slice will be a heavyweight, but not a huge one at 6-foot-2 and approximately 225 pounds.
How will Slice do in a boxing ring? Possibly okay if he's matched correctly. If you watched any of his MMA bouts, you already know that throwing bombs was his primary (some would say only) skill. The footwork and spacing is different for boxing than it is for MMA, but since Kimbo wasn't exactly a technician in the cage, he may not have to "un-learn" as much as other fighters would when making the switch.
Assuming he takes it seriously, promoter Gary Shaw can definitely use Slice to make both of them some money. He's a household name at a time American heavyweight boxing is at possibly its lowest ebb ever. People will tune in to see him because of the curiosity factor, including some who may not otherwise go near a boxing telecast. He's already 37, so don't expect him to ever be a world champ, but if he gets a few knockouts under his belt, I could see him in the co-feature slot on HBO or Showtime in 2012. He has the ability to draw eyeballs.
Now for the less exciting development on tap for August 13: Jermain Taylor returning to action after almost two years in retirement. The former middleweight champion is back with original trainer Pat Burns, has been cleared medically and has his eye on returning to the 160-pound weight class where he had all of his success in the middle of the last decade.
That's all well and good, and I've often used this space to champion the cause of boxers being allowed to fight as long as they want, provided they aren't risking serious long-term damage. I'm certainly not going to argue with the docs at the Mayo Clinic if they say Bad Intentions can put the gloves back on.
Still, as a fan, I've got to say I'm not particularly thrilled about seeing Taylor in the ring again. Boxers can and do recover from losses, even knockouts. But Taylor was knocked out in three of his last five fights, including the final two in brutal fashion. That makes his situation a little different.
Doctors can check to see if Taylor is recovered from a physical standpoint, but the mental side is a completely different story. Will he be gun shy after taking those last two beatings - and if he was, would you blame him?
A tentative Taylor is not one I relish seeing. His family and trainer (who really does sound like he has Jermain's best interests at heart) have apparently signed on, but let's hope no one is kidding themselves here.
Maybe I'll simply sit the first fight of the comeback out and see how it goes down. If Taylor seems to be alright, I'll watch his next bout, if only to get that horrifying mental image of Arthur Abraham separating him from his senses out of my head.
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