Ray Mercer - "It's Gonna Take A Lot Of Power To Get Tim Sylvia Out Of There"
Exclusive interview by James Slater - Warrior Ray Mercer, the former Olympic gold medallist and former WBO heavyweight champion, takes part in a most fascinating fight this coming May 30th in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Facing "Merciless" will be MMA star Tim Sylvia, and the bout will be fought under boxing rules. Sylvia has always wanted to give the noble art a try, and he embarks on his debut against the still teak-tough 47-year-old in just over two month's time..
Article posted on 17.03.2009
Very kindly taking time out to speak with me about the upcoming bout where two big names from different sports will clash, Ray gave the following answers to my questions earlier today.
James Slater: It's a pleasure to speak with you, Ray, always. So, this fight against MMA's Tim Sylvia, is it definitely on for May?
Ray Mercer: Yes, it's definitely on - May 30th, at The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.
J.S: I have to admit, I know next to nothing about MMA, but I of course know you well from all you have achieved in boxing. Are you looking forward to the fight?
R.M: Oh, yeah. I'm real excited. I did one other bout in MMA, an exhibition with Kimbo Slice, but this time the fight is gonna be boxing rules, so I won't be all nervous in the dressing room like I was against Slice. Then, I was going into his element, now Sylvia is coming into my element.
J.S: Have you been in the gym since your win over Richel Hersisia last September?
R.M: Oh, yeah. I'm always in the gym - that's what I do, get ready to get ready. I'm always waiting for an opportunity, so I stay in shape.
J.S: So the fight will be a boxing contest. How many rounds is it scheduled for, and what size gloves will you be wearing?
R.M: It's scheduled for eight three minute rounds. The gloves, I'm not sure. It's boxing rules so I think they'll be around ten ounce or twelve ounce at the biggest.
J.S: I read that Tim Sylvia has always wanted to try his hand at boxing. Is he crazy in taking on a puncher like you in his first bout?
R.M: Well, I don't know. I mean, he's a big dude! He's about six feet, eight, so it's gonna take a lot of power to get him out of there. I think it will take combinations and stuff like that to stop him. He'll pose me with some complications due to his size, but I'll be trying to get inside on him and get the advantage that way. And I have the advantage in this fight, because it's gonna be fought in my element as I've said.
J.S: Are they expecting a sell-out crowd, Ray?
R.M: I think it will be a sell-out. There will be MMA and boxing on on the same night, and those guys from the MMA crowd are crazy (laughs), so I think we'll have no trouble filling the place. I'm the main event, so I'll be on last. I'm expecting a good night, an exciting night.
J.S: And is it pay-per-view?
R.M: I'm pretty sure it is, yes.
J.S: What do you know about Sylvia? I mean, is it really worth watching tapes of him in action in MMA? He's not gonna be fighting that way against you, after all.
R.M: I've seen quite a lot of him. He's a two-time MMA world champion, so he's gotta know something! I mean, it's a tough-man thing (MMA). Those guys, they really fight. He's sure to know how to handle himself in any kind of fight. I do think he'll be too slow for me, though. But he's big so it's going to be a tough fight. It's a David against Goliath type thing.
J.S: Yes, but which way? You're the Goliath when it comes to punching power, even though he's the bigger guy!
R.M: Yes, well, we'll see. I think the fans will enjoy seeing this fight. One thing I do think for sure is he won't stay away, I think he'll come forward until I land a bomb. It's gonna be rough!
J.S: What would happen if, say, you were pounding him and in a flashback scenario for Sylvia he suddenly reverted back to MMA and tackled you or something?
R.M: I have thought about that. That's just not anything I can control. But I plan to get him out of there before he has the chance to have any flashbacks (laughs). I think he likes to box upright, in a stand-up fashion, but until you get hit hard you never know how you might react. We'll see.
J.S: Have you been doing just regular sparring for this fight?
R.M: Yes, regular boxing sparring. There won't be any MMA type stuff in this fight, it's just gonna be boxing rules.
J.S: What are you hoping a win over Sylvia will lead to for you?
R.M: If I beat him, I'm supposed to fight another guy. But actually, I'm not even thinking about what may come next - I just want to win this fight first. I want to stay busy and keep myself in shape and keep my mind active.
J.S: Do you still plan to have more "proper" boxing matches after this fight?
R.M: Yes, for sure. That's really what I'm about - I'm a boxer. But I've got to stay busy until something is offered to me. Also, here in America boxing has slowed down a great deal, especially the heavyweight division. We don't have a heavyweight champion over here and it seems all the big fights take place in Europe now. We sit and watch boxing on ESPN now. The good thing about that, though, is that it's free (laughs). Hopefully, I'll get a fight offered to me next - against a David Haye or someone (laughs).
J.S: So you've had just one bout in MMA.........
R.M: And also some K-1 fights. I had two of those. I fought in Japan and in Korea. The first K-1 fight I had, I kind of just went over for the money, and they ended up putting me in with the world champion. He was kicking me and I had shoes on, so he knew I wasn't gonna kick anything back. I tried my best to KO him, and I almost did. I put him down with an uppercut and I nearly got him out. But he got back up and in the third round he beat the shit out of me. But I stood in there and the crowd loved me. They asked me at the airport to come back, they liked it so much! The second fight, I got kicked in the head and I thought,' forget it!' I don't need to get kicked in the head, no-one does.
J.S: Which would you say was the tougher sport, either K-1 or MMA, or boxing?
R.M: In boxing you need skill, but in those two sports I'd say there are more ways to get killed (laughs). They really fight in those sports - they really fight hard. They're crazy! There are certainly more ways to get hurt than there are in boxing.
J.S: Well, it's been great speaking with you, Ray. I must say, I'm intrigued by the May 30th fight. I'm not sure it will be shown here in the UK, but maybe it will. Anyway, best wishes for the fight. For my last question, do you have a final prediction for the fight? I know it's tough predicting when the fight is such a new venture for you both.
R.M: Yeah, it's tough. You know, I can't really give a prediction. I will say though, that I don't think the fight will go eight rounds.
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