‘Showtime’ for Kimbo, Noons

By Jake Rossen Oct 31, 2007
As EliteXC's first year as premium cable's only MMA attraction draws to a close, company president Gary Shaw and a host of athletes sat in on a telephone conference Wednesday to discuss EliteXC: Renegade, a Showtime offering set for Nov. 10 at 10 p.m. EST.

Of the attractions slated for the card, which will be broadcast from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, most intriguing was Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson.

Slice gained infamy for a series of Internet videos depicting him in bare-knuckle brawls, a life he professed to have left behind the minute his exhibition MMA bout with Ray Mercer headlined a Cage Fury Fighting Championships card on June 23.

He was expected to face veteran David "Tank" Abbott for the CFFC in October. After CFFC chairs canceled the event, Slice signed with EliteXC.

Originally set to oppose Mike Bourke, who dropped out Monday with a shoulder injury, the reformed street fighter will now face Bo Cantrell (Pictures).

"I thank God you guys were able to come through and snatch me up," Slice said, referring to Shaw and the Abbott debacle. "I was upset I wasn't going to get a chance to fight…. Sometimes I get tears in my eyes when s--t don't work out and I can't get a fight."

Slice, who trains under Bas Rutten (Pictures) and Shawn Tompkins (Pictures), has won accolades from Rutten for being a respectful student. To help prove his resolve, Slice has abstained from smoking and other vices.

"I haven't had sex in four months," he said. "I haven't had a drink in five or six months. I'm pretty pure and backed up, and I'm ready to fight."

It's that discipline, believes Slice, that will prove rewarding both in the ring and financially. "I hope I don't sound too ghetto," he said. "I just came off the streets yesterday. I'm on a paper chase, after the dollar signs. I'm a pro now, taking this seriously. A guy puts me in an armbar, you gotta break that s--t off. I'm not tapping out. I don't know what tapping out is."

Of the Internet videos that won him fame with YouTube aficionados, Slice admitted his behavior wouldn't have met with approval from athletic commissions: "I used to enter those things high. I was smoking me a blunt before I'd go out there. It's not the same now. I know the guys fighting me are professionals. I've got to bring my A-game."

Somewhat overshadowed by Slice's brash persona were KJ Noons and Jake Shields (Pictures), who will also be notching appearances on the Nov. 10 card. Noons will face Nick Diaz (Pictures) for Shaw's freshly created 160-pound weight class and its title; Shields will fight Mike Pyle (Pictures) in a bout that was to be for the 170-pound belt before Pyle was said to be "unhappy" with the promotion.

"Mike Pyle (Pictures) didn't want to fight for the belt," Shaw said. "We gave him the opportunity. He's unhappy. Jake was willing to fight anybody … this will probably be our last fight with Pyle."

Of his motivation for creating the new weight classes, which Shaw plans on having at 140, 150, 160, 170, 185, 205, and 205-265 pounds, with a super heavyweight class for those more than 265, Shaw proclaimed a concern over fighters cutting massive amounts of weight before contests.

"The reason is, I believe in the safety and welfare of the fighters," Shaw said. "I'm very concerned about fighters cutting these drastic amounts of weight, not only a week before but the night before. Fighters fit much better in certain weight classes."

Noons, who recently defeated Edson Berto after breaking his hand early in the first round, decreed that Nick Diaz (Pictures) would be a worthy opponent.

"Nick is the No. 1 guy in the world," Noons said.

He also refuted talk that Diaz brings with him more ring experience: "I've got nine pro boxing fights and 19 pro kickboxing fights…. I've got more ring experience than Nick. Granted, Nick has fought bigger names and better opponents, but as far as experience, I'm right up there."

Between comments from his athletes, the candid Shaw surprised some listeners when he asserted that Slice could potentially be a world heavyweight champion in boxing, and that he would entertain the idea of booking the fighter in the squared circle.

"I believe he has the ability to be a world champion in boxing," Shaw said. "Kimbo is going to be the first MMA fighter who will be a heavyweight champion in boxing. He'll walk out with two belts."

Shaw later acknowledged that he had yet to actually meet the 33-year-old, 235-pound Slice, and that he had not yet approached him with an offer to box.

Additional Notes:

Shaw would not rule out having a single-night tournament similar to the one planned by Strikeforce…Slice would welcome both a match with Abbott and a rematch with Boston police officer Sean Gannon, whom he faced in a bare-knuckle gym bout in 2003… Yves Edwards (Pictures) is a possibility for the Nov. 10 card…Shaw is "very interested" in Josh Barnett (Pictures) but had no further comment…EliteXC has discussed hosting the Frank Shamrock (Pictures)-Ken Shamrock (Pictures) bout…Despite his viral fame, Slice said he purchased a computer only this past year…Shaw admitted that the garish dragon seen during an early EliteXC broadcast, which acted as a fighter entrance, "sucked. We left it in Mississippi."
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