Anderson Silva has done the impossible many times during his legendary career, but now he can add a victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to his long list of accomplishments in combat sports.
On Saturday night in Mexico, the 46-year-old former UFC champion put on the performance of a lifetime as he dominated Chavez Jr. for the better part of all eight rounds in the co-main event for the Tribute to the Kings pay-per-view.
When the fight was over, there was no doubt Silva had done more than enough to win, although the judges returned a puzzling split decision on the scorecards. Two judges gave Silva the fight with 77-75 scores with the third official handing the same score to Chavez Jr.
Regardless of the scoring, Silva still walked away victorious as he celebrated with his son and his father by his side.
“I feel so happy,” Silva said afterwards. “I need to say thank you cause my coach worked with me a lot. I need to this because I love fighting and boxing is my dream for many, many years and I need to prove my respect for boxing. I can’t come in here and not do my best.”
Despite the odds against him, Silva didn’t show any nerves stepping into a professional boxing match for the first time in more than a decade. Silva stayed active on the outside, moving around the ring and jumping in for the occasional shot.
In return, Chavez Jr. showcased good defense as he walked Silva down with his best punch in the opening round coming with a stiff left that snapped the Brazilian’s head back.
Always known for his head movement and defense, Silva was elusive as he started to get more comfortable in the ring, flicking out his jab and then launching power punches in succession with Chavez Jr. in retreat.
Late in the third round, Chavez Jr. walked Silva into the corner when he started digging to the body with a series of shots but the former UFC champion was inviting him to throw even more as he smiled after the bell rang.
Possibly after taking what he believed were Chavez Jr’s best punches, Silva was brimming with confidence as he went on the attack, unleashing combinations in succession including a few powerful uppercuts that were giving the former WBC champion problems.
It appeared that Chavez Jr. was getting tired and frustrated, only uncorking a right hand as his best weapon in order to back Silva off. That didn’t seem to deter crafty Silva, who just kept stepping into his punches and he began finding a home for a right jab that was constantly catching Chavez Jr. off guard.
As the action faded late into the fight, Silva was even more active with his punches as he took full advantage of Chavez Jr. slowing down and trying to catch his breath. Silva even managed to open a cut under Chavez Jr.’s right eye and he was getting desperate with time running out.
A plea from his coaches brought Chavez Jr. to the center of the ring to start the final round after recognizing that he probably needed a knockout to win. While there was more urgency, Silva was still absorbing his best punches and then coming back with hard shots of his own.
When the final bell sounded, Silva threw his hands up in victory, confident that he had just pulled off a massive upset by beating a nearly 60-fight veteran in only his third professional boxing match.
Of course, Chavez Jr. disagreed with the outcome but it was hard to argue with the result giving the damage he took over eight rounds, especially compared to Silva.
“It could have been draw,” Chavez Jr. said. “I failed to throw more punches. He didn’t really do much damage. But it was enough for a draw.”
Prior to the event, Silva wasn’t ready to commit to any future fights as he was solely focused on his battle with Chavez Jr. Now with a win added to his boxing record, Silva seems to be keeping his options option as the ageless wonder continues to amaze.
“Now I go back to home. My son has a fight very soon,” Silva said. “I go back to help my team and maybe I’ll fight very soon.”