‘Russian’ boxing legend challenges Fedor Emelianenko

Fedor Emelianenko wants a fight with Mike Tyson, but another 'Russian' former legend has his sights set on the 'Last Emperor.'

By: Zane Simon | 1 month ago

One of the greatest fighters in PRIDE history—and, in fact, in MMA heavyweight history in general—wants to make a move to the boxing ring. Fedor Emelianenko retired from mixed martial arts competition earlier this year, on a loss to Ryan Bader; the final fight of his 23-year cage-fighting career. Well, the final MMA bout, anyway.

Boxer Roy Jones Jr. at a 2021 Media event. Russian
Boxer Roy Jones Jr. at a 2021 Media event. – Valery Sharifulin IMAGO/ITAR-TASS

In a recent interview on the MMA Hour, Fedor revealed that he hoped to test his skills in the boxing ring sometime in the near future. In fact, he even had a fight and a date already in mind: None other than ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, on the Francis Ngannou vs. Tyson Fury PPV card in Saudi Arabia in October.

“We watched the fight on TV of Roy Jones Jr. vs. Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson would be an interesting fight,” Emelianenko told Ariel Helwani, adding that a bout with Tyson on the Ngannou/Fury card would be “awesome.” “He has a big name, he’s a legend. … It would be interesting because you can see a lot of his videos on YouTube and all over the place, he’s still in good shape. He still works pads, he still has that same power.”

Roy Jones Jr. calls out Fedor Emelianenko instead

For a whole number of reasons (age/health/price) the idea of Mike Tyson vs. Fedor Emelianenko taking place in a boxing ring in the next 3 months—or any time ever—seems like an absolute pipe dream from the ‘Last Emperor’. That doesn’t mean he’s out of options for a fight that would still raise a few eyebrows, however.

The other half of that Tyson exhibition fight, Roy Jones Jr., is younger, has stayed much more active, and doesn’t have a massively successful set of secondary businesses to lean on for all his monetary needs. Would it have the same level of insane PPV appeal as another return to action for the former heavyweight champion? Absolutely not, but unlike Tyson, RJJ sounds like he’s absolutely up for the idea.

“Fedor doesn’t need to box Mike Tyson. It’s high time he had a fight with me,” Jones told Russian news agency TASS. “I’m sure that it will be an incredibly big event.”

“We are both Russian athletes and it would be very interesting.”

Roy Jones Jr. became a Russian citizen nearly a decade ago

The former undisputed light heavyweight boxing champ was granted Russian citizenship all the way back in 2015, after fighting inside the country numerous times over the previous five years. The then-46-year-old claimed at the time that his regular business dealings inside the country often resulted in difficulties while traveling, and that citizenship would make things much more simple.

Ironically, he’s never competed in Russia again since Russian president Vladimir Putin granted his request. In later years, RJJ has stated that he sees himself as something of an ambassador between Russia and the United States.

“I go [to Russia] a lot,” Jones said in a 2018 interview. “When I was offered the opportunity to see the Russian citizenship they said 95% of the population knows me.

“I’m like, ‘You know what, here’s the opportunity to where not on a political level but on a lower you can kind of merge these two countries together and stop some of all the crazies that goes on, all the angle and hostility, all of the cold wars’.”

Fedor has wanted this fight before

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the idea of a fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Roy Jones Jr. has hit the news. Back in 2021, when the former PRIDE heavyweight champion was still under contract with Bellator, the two men bandied the idea of a boxing match about a bit. Nothing ever came of it, but Emelianenko definitely sounded like he wanted the fight.

“I would be interested [in fighting Roy Jones Jr.],” Emelianenko said in an interview at the time. “I have already worked with Denis Lebedev (who beat Jones in 2011), with other guys [in boxing]. I have been boxing myself since 2000. So, yes, it would be interesting to have such a fight, but not with bloggers and singers, not with people from outside the world of sports. Roy Jones is a legend of world boxing, so of course, it would be interesting to do it with him.

“He has such a track record. He will always be Roy Jones, although he will no longer have that crazy speed.”

Considering that RJJ struggled to handle another former MMA star, turned pro boxer in Anthony Pettis, recently, it feels a lot more like a bout against Emelianenko would make for an interestingly (if still thoroughly washed) competitive fight. Is it a bout anyone needs? No. But it seems a lot more likely than that Tyson fight.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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