Anderson Silva's post-UFC adventures are off to a strong start. Fighting in his first professional boxing match in nearly 16 years, the 46-year-old Silva defeated former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by split decision Saturday night at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The judges scored the bout 77-75, 77-75, 75-77, per the pay-per-view broadcast. The cards didn't quite reflect the fight, which saw Silva dictating the pace and throwing slick combinations in a dominant showing. Chavez Jr. looked lost fighting on his home turf, and there were only a few instances where he gave Silva any trouble.
MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reacted to the fight, and also showed Canelo Alvarez congratulating Silva on his win:
The win improves Silva's boxing record to 2-1. His previous matches were both in Brazil, a stoppage loss in 1998 and a win by knockout in 2005. In the meantime, Silva put together a legendary run in MMA, going 34-11 with 23 knockouts. He was released from his final UFC contract in November. That gave him a chance to return to the boxing ring, which he had been waiting to do for a long time, per ESPN's Marc Raimondi:
Chavez might have thrown away any remaining goodwill from boxing fans with his lackluster showing. He had a golden opportunity to get a high-profile win and breathe some life into his sagging career, but the same issues that have plagued him for years cropped up again.
According to Raimondi, Chavez forfeited $100,000 of his purse to Silva because he weighed in at 184 pounds, two pounds above the limit set for the fight. Chavez also failed to make weight for his fight against Daniel Jacobs in 2019 and has been suspended indefinitely by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for declining a drug test.
Despite having far less experience as a traditional boxer, it was Silva who showed more aggression from the start. Chavez didn't look comfortable firing against the southpaw, which gave Silva a couple of opportunities to go on the front foot and drive the fight to the ropes in what turned out to be a slow first two rounds.
Chavez showed flashes in the third, trapping Silva in the corner and tagging him with a couple of body shots. Even then, the offense left plenty to be desired, as Silva was comfortable enough to do a little showboating, daring Chavez to attack.
Silva split the guard with a big right uppercut early in the fourth, and from that point on, it looked like Chavez was the guy who had traded in the Octagon for the boxing ring, not the other way around. Here's a look at the uppercut, via FITE TV:
Silva looked increasingly comfortable moving around the ring, picking Chavez's lax defense apart. He did very well in tight spaces, finding the angles for his power shots. Chavez looked tired and bereft of ideas. By the end of the sixth, Chavez had a mark on his eye, while Silva was spotless.
Chavez showed he still had some fight in him in the final round, but by then it was too little, too late, and Silva had done plenty to earn the upset victory.
A lifelong devotee to combat sports, Silva can go anywhere he wants to from here. Boxing will offer some lucrative paydays if he wants to go up against celebrities or big-name fighters. He's also hinted at possibly doing some kickboxing or muay thai as well. Whatever he chooses to do, fans will follow him because it's clear he will give nothing less than his best effort.