Long before Conor McGregor ever set foot in the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr., another boxing vs. MMA superfight idea was making headlines. No, not Ronda Rousey vs. Mayweather... but Anderson Silva vs. Roy Jones Jr.
At the height of his title reign, back in 2011, Silva vs. RJJ seemed like a distinct possibility. Or, as distinct a possibility as any kind of UFC champion crossing over into boxing could be, during an era where Zuffa seemed to have their talent firmly on contractual lockdown. It was a dream that got kicked around for years, along with Silva vs. GSP. More fodder for fan forums than anything that came close to fruition.
But, despite both men’s stars having faded in the time since it first materialized, it seems the idea has lived on. At least it has for the two of them, as Jones Jr. revealed in a recent interview for the Ask Gary Vee Show (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“I’m still trying to fight Anderson Silva right now,” Roy Jones Jr. revealed. “Me and Anderson Silva have been trying to fight way before Floyd Mayweather and McGregor ever thought about this. We’ve been trying to fight for nine years now and they would not let him get free to fight me. . . Me and him could have did this a long time ago and we were at the pinnacle of our careers when we first started talking about it so why they still won’t let us fight right now, I don’t know.”
RJJ went on to explain that, following the May-Mac spectacle, he hopes the UFC would be more open to the event, especially since he claims Silva has “14 professional boxing matches.” And while the veracity of that claim is contestable (Silva only has two officially recorded bouts), it does make him more experienced than Conor McGregor in the ring.
Outside of the UFC’s likely reluctance, the other major obstacle in the way is Silva’s latest USADA drug test failure. The former middleweight champion is still hoping to get to the bottom of what caused him to fail an out-of-competition drug test ahead of a planned fight with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Shanghai. And while Jones Jr. doesn’t seem to care much about it, until Silva is clear of the suspension, it seems like any potential fight plans are little more than a pipe dream.
But, that fact hasn’t stopped Silva from fully embracing Roy Jones Jr.’s plans. ‘The Spider’ took to Instagram shortly after RJJ’s interview to make it clear that he’s still just as interested in the bout as he was years ago when the idea first got floated.
“ok Roy Jr this is everything I've wanted for years,” Anderson wrote on social media, “long before all this happened, it will be a pleasure to step into the ring with you. I have great respect and admiration for everything you've done in boxing and everyone knows that this has always been my great dream. Let's make this event happen. I think we have this right, in fact this is something that both You and I are willing to do. So. Let's make it happen, Mr. Roy.”
Silva’s latest drug test failure is the second of his career. However, it is the first under the current USADA testing regime. It’s currently unknown how exactly his past history, or other potential mitigating factors could effect a potential penalty from the drug testing organization. Until then, Anderson Silva vs. Roy Jones Jr. will likely remain the superfight that never was.