Anderson Silva looked far more like a world-class boxer than his ex-middleweight champion opponent, carrying his skills over from the UFC cage to win a split decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in their sanctioned eight-round bout on the Tribute to the Kings at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico.
All three judges saw it 77-75 – two in favor of the former mixed martial artist from Brazil in his third professional bout, and one for the former WBC 160-pound champion in his 59th.
Boxing Scene agreed with the majority and also scored it 77-75 for Silva.
“I feel so happy. I needed to do this because I love fighting, and boxing has been my dream for many years,” Silva said. “I came here to do my best. I respect all the Mexican people. They’re very special people. Maybe I’ll fight again very soon.”
Silva threw 392 punches and landed 99, a 25 percent connect rate, compared to 53 lands in 153 attempts for Chavez. The Brazilian, who turned 46 in April, had been stopped in four rounds in his last UFC bout in October.
“It could have been a draw,” said Chavez, who forfeited $100,000 of his purse for failing to make the contracted 182-pound limit. “He really didn’t do that much damage. I felt good. I felt that he wanted to control the fight and make me fall into his fight.”
Silva was enthusiastic and looked quite comfortable in the fight’s first half, moving laterally in the opening round and occasionally jumping in with lead right uppercuts from his southpaw stance.
Chavez became more aggressive in rounds two and three and landed well to the body, though none of the shots caused significant damage. Silva, in fact, intentionally spent much of the third in the corner, waving the Mexican fighter in while holding his hands at his sides.
The Brazilian had his best early round in the fourth, taking a more aggressive approach and landing more uppercuts and a stinging jab that snapped Chavez’s head back late in the round.
Chavez looked increasingly fatigued as the fifth round began and he seemed increasingly frustrated, frequently complaining to the referee about Silva’s forearms and elbows and blows behind the head.
In fact, his corner implored him to get more active after the fifth, saying “He’s winning these rounds.”
Silva’s best round came in the sixth, when he again took the initiative and drove Chavez to the ropes with jabs and combinations, while Chavez resorted to simply winging desperate shots. He was equally successful into the seventh as well, appearing far more confident with his jabs and power punches as Chavez remained inactive and constantly pawed at a cut over his right eye.
Silva looked as fresh in the eighth as he had in the first, moving laterally around the ring and popping jabs and straight lefts as Chavez plodded toward him ineffectively. The fight was stopped briefly to give the ringside doctor a chance to look at the cut, but it was allowed to continue through the final minute.
“The fight was very close,” Chavez said. “I’m willing to face anybody and I’m ready to come back any time.”