Sylvia and Ray Mercer
will now meet in a heavyweight mixed martial arts bout at
Adrenaline III this Saturday at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham,
The matchup of former UFC champion and former boxing champion will
headline 14 additional MMA bouts in the cage. The event will no
longer be regulated.
Originally scheduled as a six-round boxing bout, Adrenaline owner
and promoter Monte Cox said he made the decision to re-categorize
the match on Thursday.
“I got a call from the Pennsylvania commissioner saying that the
boxing match is illegal because we weren’t getting regulated by a
U.S. commission,” said Cox on Thursday.
With no regulatory body present in Alabama, the Canadian-based
River Cree Combative Sports Commission had agreed to step in and
oversee the event.
Cox said he believed he had completed all the necessary
requirements asked of him, which included procuring a letter from
Alabama’s governor welcoming the Canadian commission into the
However, Association of Boxing Commissions President Tim
Lueckenhoff told Sherdog.com that neither he nor the ABC
organization had been approached directly to regulate the bout.
Further, Lueckenhoff said he’d thought Sylvia-Mercer would be an
MMA contest and not a boxing bout. Lueckenhoff said federal law
currently has no jurisdiction over MMA bouts, but laws are in place
over boxing under the Professional Boxing Safety Act.
In a press release issued by the ABC on Thursday, the organization
denounced the “unwarranted and illegal” boxing match. The release
also noted that the River Cree commission, as well as referee John
McCarthy, had withdrawn their involvement from the bout and
“Canadian boxing commissions are not authorized to supervise boxing
matches in the U.S.; and, patently, it is wholly inappropriate for
one representative from a Canadian boxing commission, together with
an MMA referee, to supervise a boxing match,” said Bruce C.
Spizler, chairman of the ABC legal committee in the release.
“I told the promoter I would do it if it was a sanctioned event,”
McCarthy told Sherdog.com Thursday. “As soon as it became apparent
that that would not happen, I pulled out.”
In March, it had been reported that the New Jersey State Athletic
Control Board (NJSACB) said it would not regulate the bout,
prompting Cox to move the bout to another venue.
“Everyone thinks I came to Alabama because it’s unsanctioned here,”
said Cox, “but why would I go to so much trouble to try and get
this event regulated if that were the case?”
Cox also said the Mashantucket Pequot Athletic Commission, which
oversees events at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, had agreed
to regulate the event in March, but a financial agreement could not
be reached with the casino.
The event was moved to Alabama for sponsorship opportunities, Cox
said. Cox said he would not be able to procure new regulation for
the event in time.
Sylvia (24-5) has not competed since he succumbed to a rear-naked
choke from former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Fedor
Emelianenko in just 36 seconds at Affliction “Banned” 11 months
ago. The 33-year-old has dropped back-to-back bouts for the first
time in his career but holds victories against former UFC
heavyweight champions Andrei
Arlovski (twice) and Ricco
Rodriguez, among others. His only professional defeats have
come to Emelianenko, Arlovski, Antonio
Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy
Couture and Frank Mir, all
of whom are ranked in the top 10.
The 48-year-old Mercer (0-0), a former heavyweight boxing champion,
has made only one appearance in mixed martial arts, as he submitted
to Kevin "Kimbo
Slice" Ferguson in an exhibition match regulated by the NJSACB
back in 2007. Mercer compiled a 36-7-1 mark in professional boxing
and won a gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Saturday, June 13