UFC star Jorge Masvidal has managed to do something rather unexpected: make boxing interesting again.
To be clear, that’s not in reference to mainstream boxing, with the Tyson Furys and Anthony Joshuas of the world. When top-tier boxing matches get put together, they can be tremendously entertaining.
They’re just so damn rare. Instead, what’s left is a hodge-podge of lesser knowns protecting records, and celebrity boxers unwilling to take the plunge into the sport completely. Which is no doubt why the likes of KSI and Jake Paul have tried to cater to the MMA fanbase. It’s younger, more prevalent on social media, and beating up retired MMA stars (yes, Dillon Danis might as well be retired, though his fight with KSI never did happen) is basically easy money.
Credit to Jorge Masvidal, however, who is wearing several hats these days including promoter, fighter, tequila salesman, and unfortunately criminal defendant: he recognized the MMA fanbase was tired of young kids beating old MMA stars who were primarily wrestlers. And so Gamebred put together a boxing card so crazy, it just might work.
The key ingredient? No Youtube “influencers” (a term ripe for an early burial) beating on martial artists in it for a paycheck. Instead, it’s MMA versus MMA, in straight stand-up, with Jose Aldo facing Jeremy Stephens, and Vitor Belfort taking on Jacare Souza.
In other words, fighters of similar age, similar skill, from the same era, competing strictly in boxing. And in your main event, the role reversal: an aged Roy Jones Jr. coming back for one last fight against former UFC champ Anthony Pettis. Which, Anderson Silva fight aside, is leaps and bounds more competitive than anything Jake Paul has ever done.
With apologies to Fight Circus and their Siamese Twin fight, Gamebred Boxing 4 manages to look like a fight circus without anything actually feeling completely carnival level. Well almost. Still, Pearl Gonzalez, who fights Gina Mazany, showing up to a press conference in a dress made of fruit roll-ups feels very on-brand for her.
Regardless, as the UFC slowly works towards getting back on a regular touring schedule after over-saturating the fight world with lacklustre Apex-based shows, Gamebred Boxing 4 feels like a breath of fresh air. It may not feature much in the way of meaningful fights — but in terms of entertainment value, it is vastly more palatable than your usual MMA-boxing crossover card.