Frank Mir couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to cross over into the boxing world to take on Antonio Tarver.
In an announcement that came as a surprise to many, Mir (19-13 MMA), a former UFC heavyweight champion, has been booked to fight former WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO champion Tarver (31-6-1 boxing) in a 10-round boxing matchup under the Triller Fight Club banner on April 17.
Mir, who recently signed a deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, said he was preparing for his debut in that organization when he was approached roughly one month ago about the Tarver fight. He said it was simply too much to resist.
“It’s a great opportunity for a challenge,” Mir told MMA Junkie on Friday. “I’ve always wanted to step in the boxing ring. As mixed martial artists, we always like challenging ourselves at the individual aspects of what makes our sport the decathlon of the martial arts world. Competing against someone who is a legitimate former world champion (does that).”
Mir said he’s got no disillusions of what this fight is all about. He thinks the 52-year-old Tarver is trying to make a comeback to boxing and believes the other side is looking at him as an easy win or “warm-up fight.”
With zero professional boxing bouts to his credit, it’s up to Mir to prove that narrative true or false on fight night, he said. Mir’s intention is to show the best of himself and be a representative of MMA as a whole, and in his mind he could successfully achieve that, even in defeat.
“Realistically, this is a win-win for me because I’ve got nothing to lose,” Mir said. “I go out there, and even if I were to lose the match – and I intend on really trying to win this fight – win it early, I don’t know about going 10 rounds. I go the distance and look good, that’s a victory for mixed martial arts. I know what it’s like to be the guy defending your sport against and outsider coming in (like I did against Brock Lesnar). It’s really nerve-racking, so the stress is really all on his end.”
Mir said he hopes the unique matchup serves as a table-setter for him going forward. He hasn’t officially retired from MMA but hasn’t fought in the sport since October 2019, and booking a fight inside the cage doesn’t appear to be anywhere on his mind right now.
At 41, Mir said he’s reached the point of his athletic run that other forms of competition generate the most excitement, and stepping into the ring with Tarver certainly fits the bill.
“Honestly, I would love to keep doing this,” Mir said. “I’m 41, and I’m having my own midlife crisis. My wife makes jokes about it all the time. Most guys go out there and get a girlfriend or a brand new Corvette to drive; I’m out there sitting going, ‘Hey, maybe I can go into boxing. Can I get into the K-1? What wrestling tournament can I get into?’ I’m trying to find these different ways, because I know my window of competition is closing on me.”