Tim Sylvia tried it once. In June 2009 he entered the cage with a former professional boxing champion and looked to prove a point. There was some early movement and a leg kick. Shortly after that, however, ‘Merciless’ Ray Mercer loaded up on a right hand, the punch that had taken him to an Olympic gold medal and the WBO world heavyweight title, and cracked Sylvia flush on the jaw.
It was all she wrote. Out cold, Sylvia was done and dusted inside ten seconds. ‘Merciless’, indeed.
Now retired, Sylvia, a former UFC heavyweight champion, is able to view the defeat through philosophical eyes. It was an experiment gone wrong, one that doesn’t mean a whole lot in the greater context of his MMA career, and he was simply knocked out by the hardest pure puncher he ever faced in a ring or cage. Big deal. Let Ray Mercer – or any trained boxer for that matter – have an opportunity like that and he’ll take it; find yourself on the receiving end and you won’t remember much else.
Lesson learnt? Not quite.
This Saturday (August 26), Sylvia will, like the rest of the world, suspend his disbelief and watch as Conor McGregor, a mixed martial artist, attempts to somehow defeat Floyd Mayweather, a boxer, inside a boxing ring in Las Vegas. Boxer versus mixed martial artist, Sylvia knows all about that. He also knows Floyd Mayweather, while not possessing the power of a Ray Mercer, is arguably the finest pugilist of the modern era.
“I think it’s going to be a fixed fight to be honest with you,” Sylvia told Fighters Only editor Michael Owens. “If it’s going to be in the boxing ring, Floyd Mayweather’s going to have the upper hand. He’s one of the best point fighters there is. He’s not a knockout artist or anything like that. If you get close to him, he hugs you. On the break, he’s got his distance and he point-spars you. That’s how he wins s**t.
“I don’t see him jeopardizing his so-called legacy against Conor McGregor. I think he’s like, ‘Hey Conor, how would you like $75 million to let me win a fight?’ To be honest, I don’t think I’d say no to that, either. I don’t think Conor has a chance to win unless it’s MMA.”