Beating Jones Jr. Is ‘Huge For MMA!’

MMA News

Beating Jones Jr. Is ‘Huge For MMA!’

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Anthony Pettis is representing team mixed martial arts (MMA) this weekend (Sat., April 1, 2023) at Gamebred Boxing 4 in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

No, it’s not a joke. The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight titleholder, Pettis, is stepping into the boxing ring for the first time in his professional combat sports career when he faces off with the legendary Roy Jones Jr. in a Heavyweight affair.

Pettis’s bout will headline the card and act as his first appearance since coming up short in the 2022 Professional Fighters League (PFL) semifinals against Stevie Ray in Aug. 2022. “Showtime” already had it in mind that he was done at 155 pounds following the season, leading him to start his bulk and answering this opportunity weighing 205 pounds.

“Most of the MMA guys that came over to boxing besides Conor McGregor weren’t fighting top-level boxers,” Pettis told MMA Fighting. “I’m coming over and testing myself against one of the greats. It’s huge to get this win. It’s huge for mixed martial arts as a sport, for myself, for my coaches. My coaches have been busted their ass for this.

“I’m not going to go out there and let this fall through my fingers,” he continued. “I’m going to go out there and I think he’ll be surprised by my boxing skill set. I’m not going to go out there and fight like an MMA fighter. I’m going to fight like a boxer.”

Jones Jr., 54, hasn’t fought in a pro boxing match since his 2018 unanimous decision win over Scott Sigmon. Two years later, however, “Superman” participated in a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition bout against Mike Tyson, resulting in a split draw (watch highlights).

At age 36, Pettis (25-14) has essentially been there and done that in MMA as a former UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion. He’s not calling it a career just yet in the sport he made his name in yet, but a lot will depend on how well his boxing debut goes.

“Now that this opportunity with boxing is in front of me, I’m hiring the right guys, I’m spending the money on the right team, the right sparring partners,” Pettis said. “Everything I need to do to take this 100 percent serious. I guess I don’t want to look past this fight. I’m fighting a G.O.A.T. in his arena. I’m going into the ring, so I can’t go past that. I’m focused on April 1 and we’ll see what comes after that.”